Weekly Drawing ~ Ane Mulligan

Friday, September 19, 2014

It's Fun Friday at The Borrowed Book! This week's prize is available to residents inside the continental US only.

To enter:

Leave the time it took you to complete the puzzles in the comments section as well as your email address for notifying you if you've won. Winners will be drawn from ALL of the times, so the person with the fastest time may not be the actual winner, but by leaving your time, you double your chances.

Want another entry? Tweet your puzzle time and mention The Borrowed Book, get another entry. RETWEET our Tweet, get two entries!

Post your puzzle time on BB's Facebook wall and...you guessed it...get another entry!

Post it on your OWN Facebook wall and you could get as many as FIVE entries.

It's all a way to spread the word about the great giveaways on BB. So c'mon! Help us spread the word, and have a little fun at the same time. Enter all weekend long! Winners will be announced Sunday night at midnight.

This week's puzzle feature is brought to you by Ane Mulligan and her newest release, Chapel Springs Revival.

 Click to Mix and Solve

A Visit with Author Ane Mulligan

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea. She's a novelist, a humor columnist, and a multi-published playwright. President of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket, she resides in Suwanee, GA, with her artist husband , their chef son, and two dogs of Biblical proportion. Chapel Springs Revival is her debut novel.  "With a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel." You can find Ane at her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.

Have you always wanted to be an author? If not, what made you decide to write, and how long have you been at it?

I had no idea I would be a writer. I was five years old when I saw Mary Martin in PETER PAN, and I was struck with a fever from which I never recovered. Stage fever. I submerged myself in drama through high school and college, but, alas, Broadway never found my phone number.

As a kid, I was too ADHD to sit and write, but I loved to tell stories. Back in the stone age of my youth it was called lying. I spent a lot of time in the principal's office, until one day, he listened to me tell one. He recognized the future writer and I was off the hook. Until I grew up and learned to direct my energy, I played out my stories with my dolls, some lasting for weeks.

In 1996, I began writing plays for my church. My first one was published through LifeWay and the editor took everything I sent after that. It wasn't until I had left a job and was looking for something to do and Hubs said, "Why don't you write a book?"

And with those words, the idea was born for my first ever novel. Yvonne Anderson was one of the first people who critiqued my work. As a playwright, I knew dialogue. But that was all I knew. POV? Never heard the term. Omniscient? That's what God was. Show don't tell? How do I tell a story without telling? Yikes! But Y stuck with me, along with some other crit partners.

How sweet of you to say that, Ane! Really, though, we learned from each other along the way. What do you love about being a writer, and what do you like the least?

It's not that I dislike it, but creating the first draft is the hardest for me. I love the editing process, and my favorite part of all is the building of characters. I love to brainstorm and to dig deep into their psyches to discover their fears and secrets.

How do you get your best ideas?

From life. My debut book, Chapel Springs Revival, came from a conversation I overheard at church. Well, she was sitting right behind me. I couldn't avoid hearing. The young woman said, "I just learned that God has a perfect mate picked out for me, so I'm going to divorce John* and go find him."

In the sequel Chapel Springs Survival, I used something out of our son's life. There are stories everywhere, if you just look.

Writing is a sedentary occupation. What do you do for exercise?

I have a walking route I like. It starts at the coffee pot, goes through the refrigerator and past the chocolate cupboard before ending up at my writing chair. 

Umm... that doesn't count, dear.

What do you mean? Well, okay. I go to the gym three times a week with a good friend who feeds me story fodder.

Do you have any pets? Do you own them, or they you?

Anyone who follows me on Facebook knows all about our English mastiffs. When our old dog died, I didn't want another one. I wanted some time to travel, but Hubs and Son couldn't stand it. Within two months, we drove to Alabama and picked out Shadrach.

Christmas 2012, Hubs and Son decided we needed another one to keep Shadrach company. I said absolutely not. Absolutely Not's name is Oliver Twist.

Shad is eight years old and a respectable 220 pounds. Ollie will be bigger. At 18 months, he's already taller than Shadrach, and the vet thinks he should come in about 235 when he's full grown.


Mastiffs are like two-year-olds. They definitely own us.


A 200-pound two-year-old? Now there's a horror story waiting to be written.

Thanks, Ane, for stopping by and making us laugh. (You're so good at that!)



Readers, don't forget to come by tomorrow, when you can enter to win a free copy of Ane's debut novel, Chapel Springs Revival!

What's the Deal with Backstory? by Author Ane Mulligan

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Contrary to popular belief, backstory is a good thing. Now, before y'all call for a lynching party, let me tell you what it' good for and what it's not good for. After all, backstory helps you, the author know your character. What makes her tick? What formed her worldview? Why does he dislike women who have a good business head? 

Let's get the "not" out of the way first. The reader does not need to know the backstory of your characters to understand the plot—at least not in the beginning. A bit of mystery about the character is a good thing. It draws the reader onward to find out why this otherwise nice guy is so antagonistic to the heroine.

I always tell new writers to think of it this way. You're attending a party, and you host introduces you to a new neighbor. You start off the conversation by telling her your life history, and the new neighbor will be in jeopardy of whiplash, looking for the host to rescue her. 

Readers who are bombarded with backstory in the first few chapters of a novel with either ski over it or close the book for good. Either way, your time has been wasted by putting it in.

Now, let's look at what backstory is good for and how to discover it. First, I conduct a character interview (CI). Think of that as a journalist interviewing a subject for an article. In my CI, I dig and prod for the character's secrets and for his or her fears. What happened in their childhood that had a major effect of them?

After I've completed the CI, I write a stream of consciousness (SOC) backstory. This is where I go back two or more generations. People are the product of their ancestors' worldview. For example, let's say your great grandparents lived through the Great Depression. They probably could get more for a quarter than anyone you know. They taught your grandparents, who taught your parents. But did your parents continue that trait or did they, because of their more affluent status, break away from it?

It's within the SOC backstory where I discover so much about my character. Besides their worldview, I learn the lie they believe about themselves, and that lie will color their motivation, and that motivation will drive their plotline. 

In my debut novel, Chapel Springs Revival, my secondary lead, Patsy, comes from a loving home. Her mother is a well-known artist and her father a country doctor. She grew up without them around a lot. One might think her lie is that she's unloved, but that wasn't it. Patsy believes she's helpless – powerless to fix things. In her own life, she falls victim to it by ignoring problems. If she doesn't acknowledge it, it doesn't exist. 

Your characters will either fall victim to their lie or they will try to prove it wrong. Remember, the key is: Lie drives motivation drives plotline.

Much of what I learn never makes it into the manuscript, but if makes the characters come alive. They're three-dimensional and when they are real to you, the author, they become real to the reader. 

One of my beta readers said after reading Chapel Springs Revival, "I love the people. I want to find out more about their lives."


And that's the goal for backstory. 

While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, Ane has worn many different ones: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that's a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama director, multi-published playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. Her lifetime experience provides a plethora of fodder for her Southern-fried fiction (try saying that three times fast). She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. President of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket, Ane resides in Suwanee, GA, with her artist husband, her chef son, and two very large dogs. Her debut book, Chapel Springs Revival released Sept 8th.


Sunday Devotional: Weary in the Waiting

Sunday, September 14, 2014

(This post first appeared February 10, 2013.)

And let us not grow weary ...

But Lord, I am weary. I am so stinking tired.

... while doing good ...

Or, as the King James says, in well-doing. Which, as I recall from a Beth Moore study, I know is from a Greek term which carries the connotation of “being excellent.” Which translates to, don’t get tired of pursuing excellence. But just how long do I have to keep trying to be better, Lord? When am I “good enough”?

... for in due season ...

Yeah, yeah, when the season is right ... here we go with seasons. This is familiar territory. I grew up watching the fields being planted in the spring with various crops, saw them grow until you couldn’t see the dirt between the rows, and finally—finally as the days stop being hot, and the evenings are crisp and cool, and when the plants are finally spent and dead—

Oh.

Fall comes, the plants die.

The plants have to die, and then the harvest is brought in.

But it isn’t that way with every crop—summer gardens, for instance, can go on and on, and some plants actually produce for weeks before the plants are finally spent.

Still, there is plucking, and tearing, and in some cases, uprooting of the whole plant to get to that harvest.

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap ...


Is that it? Is there some part of me that must wither and die and be ready to fall away before You can bring the harvest, Lord?

... we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

And I wonder, how can I not lose heart when the wait is so long, when spring turns to summer, and summer turns to fall, and the green in my leaf is drying and the stalk is withery and dry?

But then—the wind of your Spirit blows over me, and I hear Your voice whisper, I have not forgotten you. You shall reap.

It seems a Catch-22: I will reap, but only if I do not lose heart—but I find the strength to not lose heart because I believe His promises are true, and therefore, I will reap. One of the weird and wonderful paradoxes of His word.

There is the heart of the matter—can we trust His word? He calls Himself Faithful and True—do we believe He keeps his promises? And when I’m at a point where I cannot hold myself to faith, does He hold me there?

Can we dare to believe the mystery that strength is to be found in the waiting itself?

From Isaiah 40 (NKJV):

27 Why do you say, O Jacob,
And speak, O Israel:
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
And my just claim is passed over by my God”?
28 Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
31 But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.


(Galatians 6:9 also from the NKJV)

Weekly Drawing ~ Holly Michael

Friday, September 12, 2014

It's Fun Friday at The Borrowed Book! This week's prize is available to residents inside the continental US only.

To enter:

Leave the time it took you to complete the puzzles in the comments section as well as your email address for notifying you if you've won. Winners will be drawn from ALL of the times, so the person with the fastest time may not be the actual winner, but by leaving your time, you double your chances.

Want another entry? Tweet your puzzle time and mention The Borrowed Book, get another entry. RETWEET our Tweet, get two entries!

Post your puzzle time on BB's Facebook wall and...you guessed it...get another entry!

Post it on your OWN Facebook wall and you could get as many as FIVE entries.

It's all a way to spread the word about the great giveaways on BB. So c'mon! Help us spread the word, and have a little fun at the same time. Enter all weekend long! Winners will be announced Sunday night at midnight.

This week's puzzle feature is brought to you by Holly Michael and her newest release, Crooked Lines.

Click to Mix and Solve

A Visit With Author Holly Michael

Thursday, September 11, 2014

 I think I always wanted to be a writer, but officially declared it at the age of six, after listing rhyming words on paper, then stringing them together with a few other pretty words. Thus began my early career writing poems to my parents and later, letters of love my mom called “testimonies” and kept in her dresser drawer.

I’ve been at it since. But as life has its ups and downs and crooked lines, there were seasons for writing and a long road between that first poem and getting published. My early work appeared in parenting magazines, Guideposts for Teens magazine, and other magazines. God led me in so many different directions with writing and I’m very grateful for the opportunities.

When my kids were little, I freelanced more for newspapers and magazines, and did ghostwriting, then later went to work full-time as a features writer for a Northwest Arkansas newspaper.  After a move and setting writing aside for a couple of years, a client for whom I’d done editing and script writing asked me if I’d write a novel for him. He later changed his mind on the project, but I was hooked and began a novel of my own: Crooked Lines.

Crooked Lines, my debut novel (released in July) threads the lives of two determined souls from different continents and cultures. The novel got its beginnings after listening to my husband and his clergy friends tell incredible stories about their lives in India as young seminarians—working in the slums, ministering to the untouchables in India’s caste system, serving lepers, meeting Mother Teresa. Amazing stories. Growing up in the America in the 1970-80s, I experienced a completely different world. And yet, we are all people created in God’s image who share similar hearts and emotions. In Crooked Lines, (fiction) Rebecca and Sagai seek peace and truth while struggling through life along parallel paths.

What’s Next:
I planned to release my novel, I’ll Be Seeing You, in November, (a contemporary Christian family drama about end of life decisions.) but I’m getting so many requests for a sequel to Crooked Lines, so I’m working on that now. I’ll Be Seeing You will follow the sequel, maybe in January.

Also, a fun story about another upcoming release:  A few weeks ago, my husband and I realized this December is the ten year anniversary of the tsunami that hit south India in 2004. We were there, 10 days after that catastrophe. We did a fast fund-raising event and had raised a good amount of money to donate to the victims, especially the orphans. My husband had lived and worked in the region of South India that was devastated, teaching in orphanages, for many years. So, discussing the anniversary of the tsunami, he suggested we write a “then” and “now” book chronicling the lives of the orphan children we helped during that time. That sounded like a fun project, but only one catch. I reminded him that we’d actually have to go to India, seek out all of the orphans, and write the book rather quickly to get it published by the ten-year anniversary. A few hours later, he’d booked tickets. I love that he’s so proactive and willing to travel and work with me on project. I love to travel, too and am always up for an adventure. So, we’ll be heading to India and working on that project in the upcoming months.

Another project: My son (Jake) and I have written a devotional contracted with Harvest House: First and Goal to Go: What Football Taught Me about Never Giving Up. Jake is an NFL player and type one diabetic. Release date will be the fall of 2015.

So, looks like a very busy fall and winter!


About Holly Michael: I’m a kaleidoscope, twisted and turned by the hand of God through a beautiful life of writing, traveling, and other incredible opportunities. Was a regular freelance ghostwriter and online editor for Guideposts for Teens/Sweet 16 Magazine, creator/editor of a magazine for Wal-Mart Corp., journalist, newspaper features writer, published in a variety of national magazines and local newspapers, script writing/editing for a financial corporation, book reviewer, and now writing 


fiction, blogging, and editor of Koinonia Magazine. I’m the wife of Rt. Rev. Leo Michael, an Anglican Bishop in the Holy Catholic Church-Anglican Rite. Mom to three great kids: Sweet Betsy and my two #81’s: Jake Byrne (San Diego Chargers) and Nick Byrne (Ragin Cajuns). I’ve been blessed to be able to travel extensively across the United States and internationally to India, England, Scotland, and Canada.


Make sure to stop by tomorrow, when you can win a free copy of Holly's novel Crooked Lines!



Platforms! Niches! Genres! Oh My! by Author Holly Michael

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

After years of working in diverse areas as a nonfiction writer—journalist, ghostwriter, newspaper features writer, editor—I dove into fiction writing without a platform. Gasp! Without a platform! 
I just thought I could write a book. Wrong! The books on how to write books spoke of platforms, niches, genres. 
As a hybrid—Fiction and Nonfiction—author, I didn’t have a niche. And worse, Crooked Lines didn’t fit into any genre. I had the general market in mind, but after publishing Crooked Lines, I’ve had reviewers on Amazon call it: Literary Fiction, Christian Fiction, Romance, and even “a book that can’t be assigned to any genre.” 
So….was I doomed? 
Hope not! 
Backing up….While writing Crooked Lines, I decided to at least try to get a platform going by starting a blog. But what kind of a blog? Everyone was doing writing blogs. Without a defined genre, I wasn’t sure what to do.  
I ended up naming my blog Holly Michael’s Writing Straight @ www.writingstraight.com Writing Straight is from the maxim: God Writes Straight with Crooked lines. Crooked Lines, of course, being the title of my first novel. Through life’s crooked lines and learning curves, people are the dots that connect. I wanted to create a website to connect people and to inspire and share about life and writing. 
Sometimes I blog about family, sometimes faith, sometimes my books, sometimes travel, and sometimes football. Yes, football. So, I have a blog, but it’s not really a platform. BUT…..maybe it is. See, here’s how I tied it all together (at least in my mind)… 
Faith, Family, Travel, Football: I have a traditionally published devotional coming out in 2015 co-authored with my son, an NFL player who is also a type 1 diabetic. My fiction is spiritually themed. My husband is an Anglican Bishop. We travel a lot and the locations we travel to become settings in my books. 

So, my point in this article is that you just need to write what you want. I understand the plusses of having a platform, niche, and genre, but if you don’t, it’s okay. The writing police won’t arrest you. First, write what you love and write it well. If you find you can write to a niche and genre, all the better. Your platform is ready made. Get your blog going, and blog away. But if you’re like me, an ADD hybrid author who’s all over the place, it’ll all work out fine. So far, it’s working for me.

I’m a kaleidoscope, twisted and turned by the hand of God through a beautiful life of writing, traveling, and other incredible opportunities. I’m the wife of Rt. Rev. Leo Michael, an Anglican Bishop in the Holy Catholic Church-Anglican Rite. Mom to three great kids: Sweet Betsy and my two #81’s: Jake Byrne (San Diego Chargers) and Nick Byrne (Ragin Cajuns). I’ve been blessed to be able to travel extensively across the United States and internationally to India, England, Scotland, and Canada.


Make sure to stop by Friday for a chance to win a free copy of Holly's novel Crooked Lines!