Thursday, April 16, 2015

Everything is new when you become an author for the first time. It’s as if you’ve had this momentum driving you toward publication and when you reach it, there’s this an entirely new world that opens up.

How long were you writing before your first publication?

I spent fifteen years as a professional writer and speaker before my debut novel was published in 2014. The years spent as a corporate trainer, instructional designer, and communications consultant for a Fortune-100 Company helped me gain experience that I hope will make me a better fiction writer. As for pursuing publication? That journey began in 2011 when I pitched my work at the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference and signed with an agent about a month later. It was almost two years down the road before I signed my first contract with my publisher. The Butterfly and the Violin was the first book I’ve had published, but it was the ninth full-length manuscript I’d written.

Have you published any of your early works since?

I haven’t, mainly because I feel called to write historical novels, and I actually started out writing contemporary fiction. Interestingly enough, those early manuscripts always had some sort of vintage inspiration or a tie-back to history (such as Jane Austen’s England as the back-drop). I decided to give historical fiction a try after that and felt at home almost immediately. As for publishing those earlier works – who knows what the future could bring?

Do you ever read your dialog aloud to see how it sounds?

Absolutely! You’ve probably heard that writers have their quirks. Well, one of mine is that I have a “reading” voice. That is, I regularly read my manuscripts aloud – only with a British accent. (I know, I know. #majorwriterquirk) But it works for me.

What aspect of being a writer is the most challenging for you?
I think it’s feeling brand new at something all over again that holds the biggest challenge. There’s a certain amount of vulnerability that accompanies stepping out of your comfort zone. I’d been in my corporate career for quite a while, so I was used to traveling and speaking for that role. To enter a brand new industry – even if it is for your dream job – brings a measure of uncertainty with it. You have to be okay with living in a “fail fast” environment for a while, and try to learn as you go.

What steps have you taken to overcome this hurdle?

The best advice I can give aspiring authors about overcoming the rookie hurdle is to be teachable. I learned a tip from my time in Corporate America that has been indispensable in my first year as an author: develop your own “board of directors” to help guide you. Seek wise counsel from author friends, mentors and industry professionals who understand where you want to go. Rely on your agent, the sales, marketing and editorial teams at your publisher, and other authors who have experience in the industry. They’ll help you learn and will provide invaluable encouragement along the way.

If you’re a pantser, have you ever given plotting a try?

I am a self-professed hybrid writer. I’m mostly a pantser, as I love the unanticipated flow that a story can have when you’re free-form writing. But because I’ve spent so many years developing within the structure of curriculum design in a corporate setting, I storyboard through the editing process. I also map out my story timelines to stay consistent between novels. I guess that makes me a part-time plotter?

Do you prefer writing the initial draft, or do you enjoy the revision process more?
I enjoy both, but there’s a certain magic in meeting your characters and telling their story for the first time. I wrote The Butterfly and the Violin during the eight weeks I was on maternity leave with our youngest son. Because I was up late most nights to feed him his bottles and wanted to use all the writing time I could, I began typing those first chapters on my iPhone. With A Sparrow in Terezin, I was traveling for work so much that I had to write on my phone wherever I was – at the airport, in hotels late at night, even an elevator ride could turn out a few sentences. Both experiences of writing were on-the-go, but I loved finding out what the stories would become.


Kristy Cambron fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. Her debut historical novel, The Butterfly and the Violin (Thomas Nelson, 2014), was named to Library Journal’s Best Books of 2014, Family Fiction’s Top Ten Novels of 2014, and received nominations for RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards Best Inspirational Novel of 2014 and the 2015 INSPY Awards for Best Debut Novel. Her second novel, A Sparrow in Terezin (Thomas Nelson, April 2015), was named Library Journal’s Reviews’ Pick of the Month (Christian Fiction, February 2015) and a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews.

Kristy is an Art/Design Manager at TheGROVEstory.com and holds a degree in Art History from Indiana University. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons, where she can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good Christian fiction read.



You can connect with Kristy at: Facebook: Kristy Cambron

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I fought against my slumping shoulders as I stood in the line at Panera Bread. I had a handful of change – dimes, nickels, and pennies – I’d swiped from the kids’ piggy banks, just to have enough to buy the pastries I needed.

It was the morning of the holiday party at my former office in the career I’d walked away from to focus on writing full time. I hadn’t anticipated that the day would come that I wouldn’t have enough money to buy a cup of coffee, let alone a box of breakfast goodies to share with old friends. I kept wanting to embrace authenticity. To get real and say, Yes! This is it – our new reality. Everything’s changed. I’m not that girl in a suit that I used to be. Dream chasing is hard, I’d been warned. But I never knew it could be like this. I thought I’d be gloriously happy to look through life with a new lens, not battling my pride as I stood in a bakery line. 

In truth, I felt like a failure.

It wasn’t about putting on a brave face that bothered me. I could do it. In some ways, I was a master at it. I’d been so afraid to fail in God’s calling to become a writer that running from His will had become a companion in my long corporate career. The possibility of failure was always right in front of me, blocking my view and holding me to a future I’d chased– not one that God was leading me to. So if I had to go to the office party and gloss over our struggles, I supposed I could find a smile before I walked in the room.

But that’s not what happened.

Instead, I sat in my car in the parking lot with a box of pastries in my lap, tears in my eyes, and prayers tumbling from my lips. I made a decision right there that if I was a failure, then I was going to be the best I could at it. I wouldn’t go down easily. I was going to get real and say, “This is my first attempt at something really BIG, and I’m scared out of my socks!” We were trusting everything to God like we never had and it felt both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. It was a whole new level of faith walking that we’d only heard about before.

I realized then that failure is not the enemy; regret is.

It’s like picking up a camera and looking at the world through its lens. You see things differently with new eyes. Priorities shift. Expectations topple. The potential of a new path is revealed and sometimes, it humbles you into submission.

That was the new me. I realized that if I didn’t step out and embrace the possibility of failure, I’d regret it for the rest of my life.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9 NIV

Failure can be discouraging. Fear? Debilitating. Pain, pride and even regret… They can prove consuming. But it’s the strength from a loving, all-powerful, gracious, omnipresent, heart-healing, restoring, teaching, comforting, courage-infusing and victorious God that picks you up again! Joshua 1:9 is a constant reminder of why failure is a good thing – because He’s always there to fight on our side.

I went to the office party that morning and smiled because I really meant it. It didn’t change our circumstances or add coins to my pocket. But as I sat there eating my cherry danish, I couldn’t help but think how sweet that moment was. To get real. To be authentic with myself. To embrace the bumpy failure-laden road that leads to leaning solely on His grace.

Our road hasn’t been perfect since that day. I’ve tasted a bit of failure, but I’ve had incredible sweetness too. And maybe you’re weathering the storms of rejection in your own dreams. Perhaps failure and fear have a tight grip. If that’s you, I encourage you to pick up the camera. Look at your world through the lens of God and see how different failure is through His eyes. Yes, it shakes us to our core. But that’s what’s so amazing! He’s there, in the thick of everything, waiting to pick us up every time we fall.


Kristy Cambron fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. Her debut historical novel, The Butterfly and the Violin (Thomas Nelson, 2014), was named to Library Journal’s Best Books of 2014, Family Fiction’s Top Ten Novels of 2014, and received nominations for RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards Best Inspirational Novel of 2014 and the 2015 INSPY Awards for Best Debut Novel. Her second novel, A Sparrow in Terezin (Thomas Nelson, April 2015), was named Library Journal’s Reviews’ Pick of the Month (Christian Fiction, February 2015) and a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews.

Kristy is an Art/Design Manager at TheGROVEstory.com and holds a degree in Art History from Indiana University. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons, where she can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good Christian fiction read.


You can connect with Kristy on Facebook: Kristy Cambron 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Revell, 2014
BACK COVER: You never know what you're really made of until you lose everything. Texas socialite Claire Massey is living the dream--designer clothes, luxury cars, stunning homes. But everything comes crashing down when her charming cattle broker husband is arrested for fraud. Suddenly she finds herself facing attorneys, a media frenzy, and a trail of broken hearts. Betrayed and humiliated, Claire must face incredible odds to save her family—and discover a life worth living.

REVIEW: I was intrigued by the premise of Kellie Coates Gilbert’s novel, A Woman of Fortune. Having read her debut novel, I knew the writing would be outstanding, but I was curious if the storyline would be strong enough to keep me engaged. After all, a billionaire socialite who falls on hard times was hardly something I thought would snag me by the heartstrings. However, this book was so much more! Gilbert takes a hard look at the inner workings of a family struggling to find their way back to each other. She examines the heart of the main character, Claire Massey, and forces the reader to look at their own beliefs and prejudices. This was a complex, intriguing read, well worth the afternoon it took me to read it (because I couldn’t put it down!). I highly recommend it!

 Review by Elizabeth Ludwig

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe. (Philippians 3:1 NKJV)

I often say that I know we aren’t finished until the moment we step through the veil of time into eternity, but ...

We really aren’t finished yet.

Sometimes I’m weary just of the sameness of life. Dishes, laundry, getting up, going to work, come home, eat dinner, bedtime, just to do it all over again. That’s the stuff of everyday life.

I write repeatedly of grace, finding strength in God, of renewing our trust in Him ... that too is the stuff of everyday life.

And really, what else is there, but to continually turn ourselves back to the glory of God? Do we ever tire of admiring beauty? Should we tire of it? Just because there was a sunset yesterday, do we not stop to look at today’s, and marvel over the play of light and color?

Paul makes it clear that we aren’t here just to endure the everyday grind of life. That even when things are tough, or beyond so—even when a situation seems impossible, and our soul and spirit cries out for the release of our homegoing—God has a specific purpose in our remaining here. And although our own refining and spiritual growth is part of that purpose, it may not be the only one.

Sometimes, it’s because those around us still need us.

Part of me flinches at that. I’m not one who thrives upon being needed—as a mother of many I battle an almost constant, low-level resentment against the demands on my time and energy. Nurturing doesn’t come naturally to me, either. But when I let go ... stop thinking of it as myself meeting a need but the Lord meeting needs through me, it becomes peaceful, even joyful ... almost easy.

Paul seemed to have a pretty good grip on that concept. Me, I’m still learning. How to say the words of encouragement that God is leading me to, in the moment. That praying for others is so much more satisfying than praying for myself. Oh, I know in my head that it’s more blessed to give than receive, but in those moments—days, weeks, months—that God is calling me to push through my own pain, weakness, and need to be there for another, it can feel near impossible. Like, of course God couldn’t let life be simple, at least not for very long, without one more wave of drama to come along and upset my equilibrium.

And yet, when I remind myself that He is God—that He holds every single detail and has a purpose even in what seems too hard to bear—I can feel the peace. I can rest in knowing He’s got it all figured out, even as He seems to delight in keeping us guessing.

In the moments where He must somehow be enough ... He always is.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death is working in us, but life in you. (2 Corinthians 4, NKJV)

Thursday, April 9, 2015


After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing.  He wrote a monthly column for a national magazine for two years. He has had four non-fiction books published.  He now concentrates on his favorite genre, mystery/suspense, with his sixth book releasing in 2014.

Learn more on his Blog and also his Amazon Author Page

Over My Dead Body is now available for pre-orders.   




The challenges in writing are many.  Everyone who sits down and faces that blank sheet of paper knows that.  What do I put on it?  What can I say that anyone will care to read? How will I get anyone to buy this even if I can write it? Self-doubt is a constant companion of the writer.

For me, I find two major obstacles in the writing life.  The first is time.  Writing a novel is a long process.  Because I like to see results quickly, I find I am drawn to chores that can be finished much faster.  Here is a decision to be made: do this short task, perhaps a household chore that can be completed in a few hours, or work on a novel that won’t be finished for eight months? 

The answer seems simple.  Do the household chore, finish it in a few hours, and work on the writing tomorrow.  What is a one day delay in an eight month project?  Finish the chore, get that feeling of accomplishment and get back to the novel.

The problem is that tomorrow there will be another chore that only requires a day. It could be finished, I get that sense of accomplishment, and the eight month project is only delayed two days.  What are two days in an eight month project? 

You can see where this is going.  There is an endless string of “short” projects vying for attention. And each will only delay the novel by a day.  But the few days turn into a few weeks, and before you know it, the weeks have become months.  Before you realize it, the really important project, the book, is delayed a year.

Big problem for those of us who need that sense of accomplishment, of completing a job. 

Let’s assume for a moment that I have managed to avoid some of those “shorter” chores and have actually completed the book. Now comes the second major obstacle: marketing. 

Marketing comes with several problems. First, it is something many writers are not familiar with. Then there is the uncomfortable fact that most writers are not particularly good at it.  And most writers are not interested in becoming good at it. 

Edie Melson, author, and editor, says with careful planning, you can achieve a good, solid social media presence in just thirty minutes a day.  Sound doable.  But I have not managed to do it right.  I can limit my time to thirty minutes a day, but I haven’t managed to get the solid media presence.  So I find the social media time growing and the results not growing.

Obviously I have not mastered this important challenge for the writer.

At this point, I’m batting 0 for 2. 

I am often asked if I am a plotter or a pantser. 

I think I am both.

I do a certain amount of plotting before I begin.   I like to have a direction, an obstacle, and a possible solution.  I don’t need all the details. I probably don’t know the subplots.  But I need the obstacle.  And before I actually begin, I probably have a number of snippets of conversation written.

Now, I’m ready to begin. The characters will help dictate any changes in the direction.  I am perfectly willing to let them do this.  I have tried to get to know my three main characters (protagonist, sidekick, and antagonist) before I begin.  I have visited with them, listened to them, and gained a lot of background information on each of them. If they begin to talk to me, to make suggestions, I am certainly going to listen, and quite likely follow their suggestions.

In this respect, I am a pantser.  The end result is that I employ both methods in the course of writing a book.

In Over My Dead Body, I began with the simple idea of a man dead while in the midst of a dispute with a large corporation over its exercise of eminent domain.  I set up my main characters.  I knew two of them well.  I had several snippets of conversation. I have a dialog signature for each. Generally, if I can hear the characters speak, I’m a long way toward really knowing them. I was ready to begin. And the pantser mode takes over.


Perhaps I am best described as a hybrid writer, ready to tackle those two big obstacles I face in writing.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

One of the greatest challenges in life is raising kids.  You walk the fine line between trying to make everything right for them and letting them find their own way.  When they are young, you want to protect them from everything.  Yet, you want them to learn how to take care of themselves.

While I was at the University of Oklahoma, our two older children started to school.  By their second year, they were walking to school by themselves.  It was only a few blocks in a nice university town.  They liked the independence and we fretted.  But it got easier on us as the months went on.

One day, shortly after they left and I was about to leave for campus, the phone rang.    I was giving a seminar on information value theory. Probably a student asking about an assignment.  I answered the call.

“They have taken your son to the hospital. We do not know the extent of the injuries.  Your daughter is not hurt.”

Crushing news first stops all rational thought and makes you unable to move. Then you are propelled into a frenzy of activity.  Minutes later we enter the hospital at full speed, only to be brought to a standstill by the steady, slow pace of the admitting personnel.  Eventually we are allowed to talk to the doctors.  They are calm, grave, reserved. It isn’t their child. Our son has suffered a severe concussion but they believe it is “not serious.”   To us, severe and not serious don’t seem to go together. They will keep him in the hospital for a day or two for observation.  For us, that seems to eliminate the “not serious” part of the description.

We are allowed to see our son. He is sleeping. I think.  Or maybe he’s in a coma. I can’t tell.  I choose to believe he is sleeping.

I stay the night in an uncomfortable chair.  He sleeps.  I do not.

But early in the morning, he wakes up.  He doesn’t know where he is and I tell him he in the hospital. 

“Why am I in the hospital?”

I explain that a car hit him.  “The driver was turning and the morning sun blinded him and he didn’t see you.”

He is satisfied with that and seems to ease back into sleep. 

An hour later, he wakes and asks, “Why am I in the hospital?”

I explain about the accident and he nods.

For the next twenty-four hours, this same scene is played out a half-dozen times.  Each time, I am getting more concerned.

On the third day, the doctors tell me we might as well take him home.  He needs rest and he can get that at home as well as in the hospital.  I ask about his continual questions about why he is in the hospital. They are unconcerned.  Short term memory, they assure me, will return.  When? I ask.  When it returns, they answer.

At home, he eats very little - small amounts of Jello, a little milk, little else.  This is from a boy who is generally a big eater.  After his second day at home, I finally get to campus and give the seminar that had been scheduled five days earlier.  It is not a great presentation.

That night, I am sitting in the living room and in walks my son.  It is the first time he had been up without being coaxed out of bed.  “I’m hungry,” he says.  I get a small bowl of pudding and bring it in.  “No. I’m really hungry.  Can I have a hamburger and some potato chips?”

Wow. I am eager to fix him a meal.  After he finished, he asks for his books.  “I need to do my homework. I’m going to school tomorrow.” 

He is fine. And a few days later, so am I.

That was in my days as a mathematician. Now that son is a college professor and I write mystery and suspense books.  The second in my Father Frank mysteries, Over My Dead Body, will be out in May. The first, Cleansed by Fire, is available as a paperback, a Kindle edition, an e-pub, and an audio book, narrated by five-time Emmy Award Winner Jonathan Mumm.  You can find more at:  http://amzn.to/1fqgWee.



After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing.  He wrote a monthly column for a national magazine for two years. He has had four non-fiction books published.  He now concentrates on his favorite genre, mystery/suspense, with his sixth book releasing in 2014.

Amazon Author Page:    http://amzn.to/1eeykvG

His new release, Over My Dead Body, is available for pre-orders at:   http://amzn.to/1BmYQ0Q




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