Thursday, March 31, 2011


A year ago my agent suggested I read The Moral Premise by Dr. Stanley Williams. This book has had a profound effect on the way I approach my writing. Missy Tippens is with us today to tell us what she's learned from reading the book and how it has influenced her writing.

Missy Tippens, 2006 Golden Heart finalist, made her first sale to Love Inspired in 2007. Her books have since been finalists in the Booksellers Best, ACFW Book of the Year and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Her most recent from Love Inspired, A Family for Faith, is an April release. Visit Missy at www.missytippens.com.


Welcome, Missy, and thank you for stopping by today to discuss a book that I believe every aspiring author should read. In The Moral Premise, Dr. Stanley Williams states that the moral premise statement is what makes audiences connect with the story on a more profound level. Can you explain to our readers what this involves?

Dr. Williams talks about creating resonance, about touching on universal emotions. He says you need to have a moral premise that’s general enough that any reader can be changed, can learn a poignant truth about the human experience. Williams says that knowing and seeing the darkness from which a protagonist rises give the character transcendence. And gives us inspiration to live our lives better.

Is it difficult for authors to apply Dr. Williams’s concepts to novel writing even though his book was originally written for screenwriters?

I think it translates perfectly! I recently spoke at a local ACFW chapter meeting and used the word movie and book interchangeably. Since we need to write so the story unfolds like a movie in the reader’s mind, we can easily use the moral premise in our stories.

Can you give us an example of the form a moral premise statement takes?

[Vice] leads to [defeat], but [Virtue] leads to [success].
You fill in the blanks. An example:
Covetous hatred leads to death and destruction, but sacrificial love leads to life and celebration. (This is an example Williams uses for the movie Die Hard.) I’ll share an example from my book below.


How difficult is it to sum up the story’s conflict in a short phrase?

Williams give you an 8-step process in his book. You start out determining the controlling virtue, something you feel very strongly about. Something you’re passionate about. And then pair it with its opposite (the vice). In my stories, I seem to have two or three recurring themes. Look at your stories and see what it is that keeps popping up. That may be a controlling virtue/vice you’re passionate about. That’ll make the whole process easier, and your passion will show in your writing.

Once you have the basic premise of the story, what comes next? Do you have to apply this premise to every character in the book?

Yes! Williams says that moral premise should be reflected in each character’s journey. If your main character struggles with insecurity, then the others should struggle with it as well, in one form or another. Also, every scene should involve the moral premise. For any of you who’ve had a problem with episodic writing, this can help! While writing the last couple of books, I kept a copy of my moral premise in front of me and tried to think about it as I planned every scene. It helps keep you focused and can prevent you from getting too far off track.

Dr. Williams also talks about the Moment of Grace. What is that?

Somewhere around the midpoint is where the character becomes aware of the truth of the moral premise. And they work through the rest of the story to learn to practice the virtue. If they make the right choices, they have a happy ending. If the choose to keep practicing the vice, they don’t. Williams says that by the end, the protagonist realizes that it was this truth of the moral premise that was his real goal.

It seems then, that a writer needs to know the ending before beginning to write if he/she is going to craft a novel that resonates with readers in a meaningful way. Is this difficult for some writers? How can they overcome this problem?

People who aren’t plotters are intimidated by this. But I highly recommend knowing where you’re going in the story even if you’re not sure how you’re going to get there. I recommend to those who don’t plot (pantsers, who fly by the seat of their pants) that they try to do the first 3 steps of Williams’ 8 steps so that they at least know their moral premise. And then they can use this method to go back and check their story after they’re finished writing. To see if they carried the premise throughout.

As a multi-published author, have you used this concept in crafting your stories?

I’ve worked with a moral premise ever since my agent, Natasha Kern, recommended Williams’ book. It’s the first how-to book I’ve ever read all the way through! The concept really resonates with me. I’ve used it for the last two stories I’ve written, and I feel they’re better than my previous books.

Tell us how you used it in your next release.

For my book that officially releases April 1 (and is out now!), A Family for Faith, the moral premise is:
Self-protection (selfishness) leads to unhappiness, but being generous with love (even if it’s risky) leads to true happiness.

In A Family for Faith, my hero’s beloved first wife died, so he’s scared to risk loving again. The heroine, who’s been rejected by her father and a husband (and in a way her son), feels inadequate as a wife and mother. She’s scared to love again, but even more, she needs someone who’ll be totally committed to her, someone she can finally depend on. And of course, the fearful hero isn’t able to do that for most of the book. Her fear makes her hold back, protecting herself. His fear leads him to withhold the love and commitment she needs. It’s a big hurdle to overcome!


What advice would you have for writers who want to use the moral premise to make their stories have a deeper impact on their readers?

I highly recommend you read Stanley Williams’ book, The Moral Premise: Harnessing Virtue and Vice for Box Office Success. Evaluate the story ideas you’ve worked with so far. Figure out what virtues mean a lot to you—your personal common themes. And go from there! Write a story you’re passionate about, one that has resonance and will leave readers sighing when they finish reading.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

If the method feels uncomfortable to you, keep trying. For pantsers, it can take some getting used to. But as I said, you can use the method to check your work after the fact.

Thank you, Missy, for a great interview. I can see you share my belief in Dr. Williams' concept. I know it has been enlightening for our readers.

For those who want to pursue this idea further, ACFW will host Dr. Williams at the Early Bird Session of the 2011 Conference in St. Louis. I can hardly wait to sign up for the class.

What about you? Do you already incorporate this concept in your writing, or do you just hope that the finished product will resonate with readers? We'd be interested in knowing how you feel about "The Moral Premise."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dan Walsh is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Christian Author’s Network. His first novel, The Unfinished Gift won 2 Carol Awards (Book-of-the-Year) from ACFW for best debut author and best short historical fiction. The sequel, The Homecoming, released in June 2010. His third novel, The Deepest Waters, will hit the shelves April 1st and his fourth, Remembering Christmas, comes out in September. He’s finishing his fifth book now, and Revell has just signed him to write three more. For those who haven’t read Dan’s novels, reviewers often compare his books to Richard Paul Evans, Jason Wright and Nicholas Sparks. He served as a pastor for 25 years and now writes fulltime in the Daytona Beach area, where he lives with the love of his life, Cindi, his wife of 34 years. They have two children, both now grown, and one grandson. As they await more grandchildren, they enjoy the company of two mini-aussies, Bailey and Darcy.

Did you see yourself becoming a writer as a child? If not, what did you dream of being?

My desire to write novels came a little later, in the 11th grade. As a child, I wanted to be an astronaut. That dream was dashed when I found out how much math and science was involved. Meanwhile, I was getting straight A’s in English, Composition and Speech class. And I discovered how much I loved writing and reading good books.

How long did you write before you sold your first book?

My story is odd, full of fits and starts. I wrote with passion in my junior and senior years in high school (back when dinosaurs ruled the earth). Then stopped completely for almost 20 years. Picked it up again for a year or so in 1996-97, when I got the idea for my first novel, The Unfinished Gift. Long story, but I stopped again…completely, after getting halfway through. Then finally, in the summer of 2007, at the urging of my wife, I picked it up again and haven’t looked back since. Two of the first 3 agents I contacted wanted to represent me. I signed with one, Karen Solem, and she had a contract for The Unfinished Gift in just a few months.

Many of the people who follow our blog are aspiring writers themselves. Can you share your favorite writing tip with them?

Think I’ll share my favorite writer’s quote by NY Times bestselling author Elmore Leonard: "In your writing, try to leave out the part readers tend to skip."

Now for the readers…many times, it’s easy for them to connect with the characters in a book, but not so much the authors themselves. Share something about your day-to-day life that might help a reader to feel as though they know you a little better.

I love the solitude that goes with writing and research, but I also love to be with people. I love to laugh but, for a guy, I cry much too easily. I love fine cuisine but half the time prefer pizza. We live in Daytona Beach. When I was young I surfed. Now I love taking long walks on that same beach with my wife, or just sit and read with her under an umbrella, dangling my toes at the water’s edge.

Now that you are published, do you still experience rejections? If so, how are these rejections different or similar to the ones you received before becoming published?

I know rejection is a huge part of the writing business and a normal part of a writer’s life. And I’ve made some great writing friends who’ve experienced real heartache from this, so I’m sensitive to the pain. Since getting published, though, I’ve had very little rejection (had very little on my journey before that). I can’t explain why this is so, though I’m not complaining. I hope this doesn’t mean my rewards in heaven will be few.

One area of discouragement, although I don’t think it qualifies as rejection, is having the desire to write books in several genres but knowing this isn’t a realistic expectation in today’s marketplace. Especially when an author is fairly new and growing a readership. Readers like to read certain kinds of books (why there’s so many sections in a bookstore). It’s hard to grow a readership if you keep switching genres, so authors are asked to settle on one genre they enjoy and resist the urge to drift too far from there.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

It’s called The Deepest Waters. Here’s a one-paragraph summary we came up with.

What began as a fairytale honeymoon for John and Laura Foster aboard the steamship SS Vandervere becomes a nightmare when a hurricane causes their ship to sink into the murky depths of the Atlantic. Just before she goes down, an old wooden ship comes to their rescue but can only take the women and children aboard. The couple is pulled apart, certain they will never see each other again. Laura sails alone to New York to face a family she has never met. Inspired by a true story, The Deepest Waters weaves a tale filled with action and suspense but is also an amazing love story, one that could only happen if miracles come true.

If you could only share one line from The Deepest Waters, which one would you choose and why?

Yesterday, when it had become a certainty their ship would sink, Laura and John Foster held hands, as they had on their wedding day three weeks ago, and made a vow: when that moment finally came they would leap into the sea together and slip beneath the waves.

This is how the book opens. Why pick this line? Hoping it beckons you to read more.

Writers often put things in their books that are very personal—like a funny story that happened to them, a spiritual truth they learned through difficulty, or even just a character trait that is uniquely theirs. Is there something in The Deepest Waters that only people close to you know is about you or someone you know?

I guess I’d pick a spiritual truth learned through difficulty. Fair to say, one I’m still learning. One of the main characters is Micah, an old, illiterate Negro slave; but a man who has a deep walk with God which has a profound effect on everyone around him. After many days of watching him endure far greater suffering than she has, even through the shipwreck, Laura asks him to tell her the secret of his happiness. His answer reveals a lesson God has been teaching me in the last several years.

Readers often talk a lot about the hero and heroine of a story, but today I’d like to know something about your villain. Does he or she have a redeeming quality? Why or why not?

Sad to say, the main villain, Ayden Maul, has no redeeming qualities. At least not in the span of time covered by the book. Perhaps beyond the pages of this tale, God may still reach someone like him.

What kind of research did you have to do for this book? Can you share some articles or website links you found particularly helpful?

Since the story was set in 1857, I had to do extensive research. I’d been fairly familiar with the Civil War era, but this story happens in the decade before the war. Before writing this book, I knew nothing about the 1850’s. Since it is based on a true story, but one that is little known, I found only two books (one out of print) that covered it. But they were very helpful. I also found many websites that helped me learn about life on the sea during this time, as well as some fascinating historical facts about New York City and San Francisco. I hadn’t realized this before, but the 1850’s saw the transformation of San Francisco from a small seaside village to a major boomtown on the west coast.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

I’m finishing up my 5th book for Revell. The working title is A Persistent Rumor. It’s a story that begins in the present, returns to the 1940’s in the middle, then resolves back in the present. It’s about a grandson who discovers his grandfather’s amazing past after inheriting his home in Charleston, things he’d kept hidden from the family while he was alive. I’m also part of a team of authors writing in a series for Guideposts called, The Miracles of Marble Cove. I’m writing book 5 for the series.

Up ahead? Revell has just signed me to write 3 more novels for them, with a goal of releasing two books a year (like we’re doing in 2011, one in the Fall, another in the Spring). We’ve already agreed on the storylines, all stand-alone novels, similar in genre to the books I’ve been writing (which I love). One takes place in 1962, during the height of the Kennedy years. One takes place in the present. And one begins in the present but flashes back to the turbulent years of the Viet Nam era.

The most common thing I hear when people learned I’ve published a book is, “I’ve always wanted to do that.” Faced with this statement, what advice would you give to someone just starting out in this business?

It’s not for the faint of heart. If you don’t have a deep desire to excel at the craft of writing (not just love to tell stories), if you become easily hurt or discouraged when you receive input or criticism, if you don’t enjoy long hours of solitude, if you don’t love to read great books, if you are known for starting many things but finishing few, if you don’t have a tenacious zeal to keep at something until you succeed…you might want to consider doing something else.

What is the one question you were afraid I would ask…and how would you answer?

Why would I answer that question if I’ve gotten to the end of the interview and have successfully dodged that bullet?

Seriously, I haven’t been asked a question yet, in any interview, that I was afraid to answer.

Connect with Dan Walsh on the web:
Also, stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win a copy of The Deepest Waters by Dan Walsh.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I’ve heard tell of them--Editorial Letters. Eight or nine page beasts that require an author to sift through their manuscript as cold sweat drips down their back and the taunt “Now everyone knows what a terrible writer you are,” echoes in their ears. But I had never encountered one myself, though I must admit that the taunt runs through my mind throughout the writing of a manuscript, e-mailing of finished product, and subsequent edits. There now. That doesn’t leave out any part of the process, now does it?

But this, my very first “official” editorial letter, was different. Not at all what I expected.

It all started out innocently enough. I received an email. From this lady. Her name is Jamie Chavez and this is how it started:


Hi Sandra!
This is just a quick email to introduce myself and tell you that we're gonna
work on your novel, A Recipe for Deceit, together. Really soon! And quickly!

What captured me right away is the cadence of her email. The energy. And if any of you have ever read a LaTisha Barnhart mystery, you know LaTisha is all about attitude and, in her own way, energy. I think I expected something stodgy and stuffy. “Greetings, My name is William Wunderkiedz and I am an intellectual genius with a three digit IQ and more degrees in English, particularly Grammar, than you have teeth. . ."

What I got was. . .


HI! So nice to meet you! A quick background on me: I'm a mom (OK, OK, my boy is 27), I worked for Thomas Nelson for 11 years before I went freelance back in 2004, and I love, love, love what I do. I have a website, so you can see my portfolio. Oh, and I'm on Facebook, if you're
interested. :)


Down to earth. Kind. Funny. Spunky. I was relieved. I then did what any self-respecting author would do. I googled “Jamie Chavez” and found jamiechavez.com (duh, now why didn’t I think of that?). Jamie’s picture grabbed me by the throat! Can’t you just SEE LaTisha looking over her reading glasses like that? Okay, so this lady is legit, and she’s jazzed, and I’m getting excited because I like working with high-energy people.

Second, third, fourth, and fifth thing to grab me is. . .she’s a Mac gal! Yeah! A woman who has not only stepped into the 21st century but has embraced the simplicity and beauty that is Mac. Check out her Macbook Pro! Drooling. . .

Then, within a week, she sent me THE LETTER and I realized. . .




Over the course of the next few Tuesdays, we're going to peek into the relationship between an author and developmental editor as Jamie Chavez and I work through Recipe for Deceit, the third and last of the LaTisha Barnhart Mystery series. Jamie is going to join me in this and we’re going to be open to any questions you might have. Drop us a line!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Don't we all love and appreciate a reason to celebrate? Celebrating the milestones we've reached, big or small, can be a wonderful gift. It can remind us of how far God has brought us, of how much we have to be thankful for, and it can give us extra "oomph" to keep on pushing forward.

Last week during my spring break I finished the first draft of my manuscript. Yes, it's a little shorter than it probably should be. Yes, it needs some polishing and editing. But still, the first draft is done!!! And thanks to some wonderful comments on my personal blog (Seasons of Humility), as well as the kind words of dear family and friends, I'm reminded to be grateful for getting this far.

For all of you writers out there (and even if you're not a writer), let's celebrate! God has a purpose for our lives, and He works through us to fulfill it. I think that's cause for rejoicing, no matter where you are on the journey God has planned for you!

I also have a shameless plug for today in regards to my personal blog... This week is my first blogoversary (one year anniversary of the creation of my blog), so I'm celebrating with some fun posts, including author interviews and giveaways! Here's a peek at the schedule:
  • Tuesday, March 29: Interview with author Laura Frantz and giveaway of her book, Courting Morrow Little
  • Wednesday, March 30: Interview with author Julie Lessman and giveaway of winner's choice of one of her books
  • Thursday, March 31: Interview with our very own S. Dionne Moore and special book giveaway!
  • Friday, April 1: Interview with author Leanna Ellis and possible book giveaway
  • Saturday, April 2: Winners announced
I do hope you'll stop by Seasons of Humility and join the party! Maybe you'll be one of the lucky winners and have even more reason to celebrate!

And let's hope the other BB authors don't mind the shameless plug... ;)

Anybody else have some fun reasons to celebrate this week? We'd love to cheer with you!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

It's always so much fun to give away great books!! Congratulations to this week's lucky winner:

H Cerasoli - Code of Justice by Liz Johnson

H, please use the button in the upper right side of this page to email me with your mailing address so I can forward your information to the author. Then, sit back and wait for your book to arrive.

Thank you all so much for stopping by The Borrowed Book and thank you, Liz Johnson, for your generosity in providing a book!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Entering our weekly drawing is easy:

1. Leave a comment on Fridays or...

2. Sign up to follow The Borrowed Book. Followers will automatically be entered for a chance to win that week's drawing!

This week, The Borrowed Book is giving away:

Code of Justice by Liz Johnson ~ "Follow the drugs."

Her sister's last words shake FBI agent Heather Sloan to the core. They also convince her that the helicopter crash only Heather survived wasn't an accident. Sheriff's deputy Jeremy Latham is assigned the case—he's the one who can help Heather find the person responsible…once she convinces him they should work together. As they dig for the truth, they learn to trust and care for each other. Will they lose it all when the killer targets Heather? She's willing to risk her life to find her sister's killer—but her code of justice could cost her the chance to win Jeremy's love.


Winners will be announced on Saturday, 03/26/11.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I am thrilled to have my friend multi-published author Dana Mentink as a guest on The Borrowed Book today. Dana lives in California where the weather is golden and the cheese is divine. Her family includes two little girls (affectionately nicknamed Yogi and Boo Boo.) Papa Bear works for the fire department and he met Dana doing a dinner theater production of The Velveteen Rabbit. Ironically, their parts were husband and wife.

Dana is an American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year finalist for romantic suspense and an award winner in the Pacific Northwest Writers Literary Contest. Her suspense novel, Betrayal in the Badlands, is a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice nominee. She spent her college years competing in speech and debate tournaments all around the country. Besides writing, she busies herself teaching Sunday school and working in an elementary school. Mostly, she loves to be home with Papa Bear, Yogi, Boo Boo, a dog with social anxiety problems, a chubby box turtle and a gaggle of fish.

Welcome, Dana. I know you are a multi-published author in CBA, but you recently self-published a book on Amazon.com's Kindle and Barnes and Noble's Nook. Had you tried to sell this book to a traditional publisher?

Yes. It was a full length, fully edited romantic comedy that had made the rounds and been declined. “There’s just not a big market for inspy romantic comedy,” I heard repeatedly from the various houses, so I decided to make my own market. Power to the people!

What made you decide to take this approach to publishing?

A full length, fully edited book sitting in a desk drawer is painful to a writer, no? Also, don’t tell anyone, but my natural inclination is towards humor and I feel frustrated that there are so few avenues for humor in Christian fiction. I have Christian friends with FABOO senses of humor. I am quite sure there are plenty of people who enjoy a good laugh as they read. This book is for those people. I seem to be branded in my print life as a suspense writer, so this is a way to entertain my inner comic. Laughter is good medicine, after all.

I'm with you on that. I love to laugh, and I enjoy books that appeal to my sense of humor. Publishing a book that didn't sell sounds like a great idea. The material belongs to you, and you don't share the royalties with a publisher. What kind of a process did you have to go through to acquire the copyright on your book?

Well, I applied for an ISBN number. There are many sites where you can purchase one. Sadly, they aren’t cheap, but I felt it was worth it to protect my work. That’s about all I did.

I’ve looked on the Amazon website, and it offers a guide to formatting your work. Did you do your formatting?

I’ve got to fully disclose here. I TRIED. I REALLY did, but I do not understand HTML. It’s like reading tax forms or something. Completely baffling! I even downloaded a handy guide and read all the Amazon instructions, but I couldn’t get that silly book to format correctly. I guess I’m a perfectionist, because I paid a freelancer to do the formatting for me. Wham bang! She had it done in 24 hours. We’ve all got our gifts.

Once you have the formatting done, how difficult is it to upload your material to the site?

Once it’s formatted, the uploading is easy peasy. Barnes and Noble and Amazon both walk you through the process.

How have you marketed this book? Has it taken more time that what you’ve done with your other books?

I’ve just done the same marketing efforts that I do with the print books. Too early to tell if that’s been effective!

What is the name of your book?

The book is called Desert Desperate.

Please give us a blurb about it.

The Arizona desert is lovely in August. If you’re a cactus. If you’re not green and prickly it’s like standing in the bottom of a volcano hoping your SPF 15 will do the trick. So how does Simone Greevey, a twenty something e-zine editor from San Francisco wind up wearing a duck costume in sweltering Seepwillow, Arizona? In Desert Desperate, Simone loses her job and her fiancĂ© in one fell swoop and runs to the arms of her eccentric aunt, owner of the Ruddy Duck trailer park, a hundred miles from nowhere.

There she meets Chaz Tagliola, a guy who doesn’t know Jimmy Choo from Jiminy Cricket, a man with a passion for God and the one thing Simone has tried to forget about for the decade since her father’s death. Before her suitcase is unpacked; Simone’s aunt disappears, leaving Chaz and Simone to lead a five day junior high school Bible study camp. Bug lightings? Hot dog roasts? Cactus jam recipes? It’s a whole new world for a San Francisco girl. Throw in a mysterious park tenant and a breathtaking natural discovery and the stage is set for Simone to learn a divine lesson that will rock her world in a big way.


I purchased the book for my Kindle, and I LOVED it! Your keen sense of humor makes each page sparkle. In fact, I laughed out loud over and over. And I really liked your hero and heroine. The scenes between Simone and Chaz show their differences, yet you know they were meant for each other. You also wowed me with your knowledge of the Arizona desert. How do you know so much about that part of the country?

Awww, that’s so sweet that you bought a copy! I’m electing you president of the Dana Mentink Fan Club. I’m glad you liked the book. I think deserts are facinating. Not so fascinating that I’d actually move there or anything, but I appreciate the desert in a theoretical sense. I enjoy researching and have visited a few deserts in my time.

I'd be honored to be the president of your fan club. I want to read more of your romantic comedies. What do you have planned next?

I’ve got another one finished and edited that will go ebook soon. It’s called Falling In Ferocious.

Would you recommend this alternative to traditional publishing to other authors who’re struggling to make a first sale?

Tough to say. I didn’t get around to epubbing until I had many print books under my belt. That lends a whiff of legitimacy to the book, I believe. It’s sort of a buyer beware when you purchase an e-book because there are less quality controls. I still think it’s a better use of time to work on publishing short articles and stories for traditional venues to build credentials rather than self pub right off the bat.

Do you have any other advice for readers who also want to become published authors?

Develop a thick skin and share your work with more experienced writers. You really do learn much more from gentle critique than from Grandma Nellie’s glowing praise. Trust me on that one. (No offense, Grandma Nellie!)

Thank you for dropping by today, Dana, and sharing your thoughts on an alternative to traditional publishing. I'm sure our readers have learned a lot.

What about it? Do you have a book that you haven't been able to sell and think this might be your answer? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Liz Johnson grew up reading Christian fiction and dreamed of being part of the publishing industry. After graduating from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff with a degree in public relations, she set out to fulfill her dream. In 2006 she got her wish when she accepted a publicity position at a major trade book publisher. While working in the industry, she decided to pursue her other dream—becoming an author. Liz makes her home in Nashville, TN, where she enjoys theater, exploring the local music scene, and making frequent trips to Arizona to dote on her two nephews and three nieces. She loves stories of true love with happy endings.

Did you see yourself becoming a writer as a child? If not, what did you dream of being?

I’m not sure I saw myself becoming an author, but I definitely always loved to write. I wrote my first short story when I was 7 and my first (really, really bad) novel when I was 12 or 13. Throughout high school I wanted to be a physical therapist, but when I got to college I realized that I’d have to take a lot of science classes, and I was really bad at science. But talking to people and writing had always been easy for me, so I decided I was going to work in Christian publishing, and I worked at it until God opened that door for a job as a publicist 5 years ago.

How long did you write before you sold your first book?

I wrote all through high school (mostly fan fiction) and I wrote a really terribly plotted full-length novel in college. I took the Christian Writers Guild apprentice course after college, but it wasn’t until I moved to Colorado in 2006 that I started to get really serious about getting published.

Many of the people who follow our blog are aspiring writers themselves. Can you share your favorite writing tip with them?

My favorite piece of writing advice is one I heard at a writers conference years ago. A speaker was sharing about a failing office cleaning business on the verge of bankruptcy. And then a businessman bought it and gave it a new business model and turned it into Merry Maids, one of the largest companies in the country. This businessman saw that the company was worth starting. It had just been started poorly. The speaker equated that to writing. Anything worth starting is worth starting badly. You can go back and fix what needs to be fixed. Just get it started.

Now for the readers…many times, it’s easy for them to connect with the characters in a book, but not so much the authors themselves. Share something about your day-to-day life that might help a reader to feel as though they know you a little better.

My day-to-day life isn’t very exciting. Like many writers, I have a full-time job. Mine is in marketing for a Christian publisher, which is pretty cool. I market books written by one of my writing heroes, which is very cool. And at the end of the day I go home and sit in front of my laptop, trying to write new books. In my free time I love to plan trips to far-off locations that I hope to get to visit. Usually I try to think of a good book idea related to said location, so I can have a valid reason to visit. It works about half of the time.

Now that you are published, do you still experience rejections? If so, how are these rejections different or similar to the ones you received before becoming published?

I’m sorry. I hope it was okay for me to laugh at this question. Of course I still get rejected! I’ve had a YA series that’s been rejected from all but 2 Christian publishers out there. And I’m pretty sure those other 2 sent rejection letters that got lost in the mail. Rejection is just part of the writing process. And while it’s certainly not easy, it is part of growing and learning as a writer. The difference now is that the rejection letters go to my agent, who sends me the gentler versions of them. But they still sting. And I still struggle with taking them too personally. But sometimes, just sometimes, those rejection letters turn into acceptance letters. Both of my publishers rejected my first books with them and then ended up contracting those same stories. What I’ve come to learn from rejection letters is that I can’t always please everyone. But God has promised that if we come to him with a contrite heart, He won’t reject us. I take comfort in that.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

Code of Justice is my third book from Love Inspired Suspense and tells the story of FBI agent Heather Sloan, who is the only survivor of a deadly helicopter crash that takes the life of her sister Kit. As Heather begins to recover from her injuries, she realizes that the crash may not have been an accident and she has to investigate Kit’s last words, “Follow the drugs.” Sheriff’s deputy Jeremy Latham is assigned the case—he’s the only one who can help Heather find the person responsible. But as they begin to trust and care for each other, they may lose it all when the killer targets Heather.

If you could only share one line from CODE OF JUSTICE, which one would you choose and why?

This is a tough question. The line that I love the most is toward the end of the book, but if I quote it, it’ll give away the ending. I will just say that at one point Heather realizes that showing mercy is not the opposite of justice—it just frees her from a burden she was never intended to carry.

Writers often put things in their books that are very personal—like a funny story that happened to them, a spiritual truth they learned through difficulty, or even just a character trait that is uniquely theirs. Is there something in CODE OF JUSTICE that only people close to you know is about you or someone you know?

The key verse of Code of Justice is Micah 6:8, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Around about the time I was 12, I had a minor (or major, if you ask my dad) attitude problem. Whenever something didn’t go as I hoped, I’d pop out with an “Oh, man!” So my dad decided that any time I offered my “Oh, man!” I’d have to follow it up with Micah 6:8. I memorized that verse pretty fast, and it stuck with me all these years. So when I sat down to write Code of Justice, I knew the themes of the book would fit with justice and mercy, things that God requires of us.

Readers often talk a lot about the hero and heroine of a story, but today I’d like to know something about your villain. Does he or she have a redeeming quality? Why or why not?

That’s a great question, but I’m sorry to say, he has no redeeming qualities. He’s just plumb greedy and selfish. He doesn’t care who he hurts, and he loves no one but himself. But I think that reveals more about the heroine’s choices at the end of the book than anything else.

What kind of research did you have to do for this book? Can you share some articles or website links you found particularly helpful?

I did quite a bit of research on how helicopters work and what kinds of choppers might be used for tourism. I also read a lot about ACL injuries and how long it takes to recover from an ACL surgery, as that was Heather’s main injury from the crash.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

I just completed a manuscript that will be part of A Log Cabin Christmas Collection available from Barbour in September. My novella is called "A Star in the Night" and is set at the end of the Civil War in Franklin, Tennessee. I’m also working on several proposals for other projects.

The most common thing I hear when people learned I’ve published a book is, “I’ve always wanted to do that.” Faced with this statement, what advice would you give to someone just starting out in this business?

I don’t get this too often, and when I do, I’m usually tongue tied. If I’m really on the ball, I ask what they’ve written recently. Usually they say they haven’t written anything, so I suggest if they’re serious they should get started writing.

What is the one question you were afraid I would ask…and how would you answer?

The one question I always get and absolutely hate is: Why aren’t you married yet? It’s the plight of the single late 20- and 30-something women in our Christian culture. The unanswerable question. I have no idea why I haven’t met Mr. Right yet. But one thing I do know is that it’s been much easier for me to follow God’s call on my life over the last 5 years (and 3 cross-country moves) as a single woman than it would have been as a married woman with kids. While I’m waiting, I’ll try to get a few more books written. :)
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To learn more about Liz and her books, visit her at http://www.lizjohnsonbooks.com/.
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Liz is giving away a copy of her book, Code of Justice. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I’ve seen this numerous times. Young writers who don’t quite know where to begin their stories. They slip in a prologue that is nothing more than backstory, or a litany of description of the characters and the surroundings and call it chapter one. OY!


While now it is easy for me to see where a manuscript, particularly a romance, *should* begin, it wasn’t always so. It really is something you learn. You learn that backstory is not front-loaded but woven. You learn that introducing a character is all about being intimate with their GMC *before you begin the story*. And you learn that the first scene should play hard and fast with establishing the voice of the character as well as establishing purpose.


Let’s look closely at what I mean. I’m dragging out my very first manuscript to use as an example. This story centers around a young man out for revenge (Goal). His first hurdle is he has no idea where to find the man he thinks murdered his wife(Conflict). Motivation for him to pursue the killer is evidenced in this, chapter one, scene one, by his love for his young wife and that she carried their unborn child at the time of her death.


Krystoff Worthington’s long fingers slid over the book’s scarred leather, the cracked cover reminiscent of his shattered life. The slim volume fell open on his lap. He thumbed through the pages made buttery soft from wear, tattered around the edges, ripped in some places, stained in others. But the words were still visible. He could hear the melodic tones of Meg’s voice as she’d read each poem aloud the night he’d presented her with the book. Krys fanned the pages, longing to savor some new hint of her presence—perhaps the smell of lilacs or the sight of a stray hair fallen from her auburn locks. He envisioned her in the wing chair the rare first edition—his Christmas present to her—spread on her lap. All an illusion. Now, the odor rising from the pages was one of mustiness and neglect.

Krystoff shut the book, resisting the urge to read the spidery script inside the front cover. He’d committed the words to memory long ago. But like a great black bat, its message flitted through his mind, a mocking litany of happier times. The sound of her laughter. The warm light of Meg’s eyes as she placed his hand on her still-flat stomach. “A boy or a girl, darling?”


What I’ve attempted to do is give a glimpse into his character and the dilemma in which he finds himself. I give only the slightest hint of setting, gunning more for mood. While his goal is not expressed outright, I’m setting the tone so that the reader instinctively understands there is a problem and, by the end of the chapter, where the problem is going to lead our hero.

I often see new writers express a goal outright. “Bill needed revenge like he needed water.” Yet this is telling and we all know that telling is not a good thing. At least, not always a good thing, but in this case it definitely is not. You want to draw the reader in. Intrigue them with the events taking place and build the world (setting) in which your characters dwell carefully.


A short list of things to consider before beginning:

  1. Begin with an event pivotal to the character. Some refer to this as the inciting incident--that moment when your character is faced with a decision that will lead him/her on a journey. In this case that journey is your story.
  2. Avoid backstory. Unless it is essential to the character’s development (and 95% of the time it isn’t, so don’t kid yourself) no more than a well-crafted sentence or two.
  3. Avoid long passages of description. Just as with backstory, a sentence or two is enough to ground the reader in the setting.
  4. Focus on placing your character in a situation that shows positives of his/her personality. This is especially critical if your character begins as someone not well-liked by others. Even the worst person has redeeming qualities. Having this type of personality display vulnerability can cast a more compassionate light on them.
  5. After showing a positive personality trait or vulnerability, you can lay the groundwork for some not so great traits, just be careful to keep a careful balance here or the reader will hate your character.
  6. Know the GMC for your character and have a firm grip on how they will grow and what events will grow them through the entire story *before beginning!* Those who don’t plot out a character arc first often flounder around for that perfect beginning spot.


What about you? Do you struggle with where to begin your story? How do you resolve the problem? Want to add anything to the list of things to consider?

Monday, March 21, 2011

This week is spring break for me, and even though I'm enjoying some down-time at home, I think this would be a great time to talk about making vacations work for you as a writer.

I know, I know..."vacations" and "work" don't even belong in the same sentence, right?

You'd be surprised!

When I was in high school, I did the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, which gave me a year's worth of college credit at Corban University (so I'll be graduating a year early!). In order to complete the program, I had to write an "Extended Essay," which was a research paper on a topic of my choice.

I ended up choosing to write about an old mining town in Nevada, killing two birds with one stone, so to speak--because that town is one of the main settings of my first manuscript! So when we went to Nevada the summer before my senior year for some vacation time, I got to do some great research. And guess what? My family and I loved spending time there so much that we just had to return the past two summers!

While I enjoyed visiting the museums and doing "real" research, just being there--experiencing the town for myself, talking to the people who live there, and exploring the setting--helped me so much with my work-in-progress. In other words, just being a good tourist has had wonderful benefits! It's so much easier to write about a place you've been to, and the townspeople who have lived there for years often know a lot of great facts and stories.

Even if your vacations take you to places you're not currently writing about, not only can you learn a lot about life in general by visiting new places, but you never know if someday you'll eventually want to write about your vacation destinations!

For example, when I was 15-years-old I was blessed with an amazing opportunity to go to Israel for two weeks. Now, I haven't attempted to write a story set in Israel, but maybe someday... ;) But even if I never write about it, learning about Israel's history and seeing the country for myself broadened my perspectives and made the history and settings of the Bible much more vivid and personal for me.

And even small field trips/class trips can be so rewarding!

I recently had the pleasure of visiting the McLoughlin House (in Oregon City, Oregon) and Fort Vancouver for my Literature of the American West class. At Fort Vancouver there were people acting out various roles, including women in the kitchen, blacksmiths, and a carpenter. They had so much knowledge of the history of the Fort to share with us, and I loved being able to "step back in time" and experience the candlelit kitchen, the sounds, the smells, and the whole atmosphere of the early/mid 19th century. Just standing in that kitchen with the warmth of the fire, the dim lighting, and the pleasant smells of freshly cooked food made me think I might want to file the experience away as a possible story setting!

So yes, vacations are fun and can be very relaxing, but there's no harm in making them work for you! ;) Soak up the sights, sounds, and smells, and don't forget to carry a little notebook in your purse for those unexpected moments of inspiration and those delightful opportunities to get setting/history details that will make your stories real and engaging!

Are you going on a vacation soon that might lend itself to research for a current and/or future manuscript? Have any good vacation-research stories to share?

(These pictures are from the trips I mentioned--a stage coach ride in Nevada, a 1st century experience in Nazareth Village in Israel, and the sign at Fort Vancouver. I'm the middle person in the top two pictures, and the only one in the bottom picture.)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Max is a little dog but he’s got a big heart, and he can be pretty tenacious. I learned this watching him play with my son. Max has a braided toy with fringes on the end that he likes to chase. He never tires of having someone throw it across the room so he can retrieve it. He brings the toy back and lays it at our feet, then stares up expectantly until one of us throws it again.

We were sitting in front of the TV one night, and my son had been doing this for almost an hour. Somehow, I lost track of when he stopped until he whispered, “Mom, look at this.”

I glanced over to see him sitting in a chair, his arm stretched to the floor. In his hand he held the rag, but attached to the other end was Max. Unwillingly to let go of his end, Max had fallen asleep with the rag clenched tightly between his teeth.

“He’s been like this for almost ten minutes,” my son said.

Now that’s tenacity, and it taught me something about my walk with God.

“Love the Lord your God. . . .with all your strength.” (NKJV)

I realize that it isn’t my puny strength that keeps me firmly in the will of God. It isn’t even my faith and spiritual maturity that keeps me assured of my place in heaven. However, God has asked me to love Him with all of my strength, kind of like Max holding on to one end of that rag with all of his might. It sounds like an easy task, but it’s not. Still, I can rest assured because holding on to the other end? Well, you get the idea.


Luke 10:25-28 (New King James Version)

25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?”

27 So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”

Saturday, March 19, 2011

It's always so much fun to give away great books!! Congratulations to this week's lucky winners:

Diane Marie Shaw - Driven by Shellie Neumeier

sanash - Unforgettable by Trish Perry

Virginia R. vrush729(at)aol(dot)com- When All My Dreams Come True by Janelle Mowery

Winners of this week's books, please use the button in the upper right side of this page to email me with your mailing address so I can forward your information to the authors. Then, sit back and wait for your book to arrive.

Thank you all so much for stopping by The Borrowed Book and thank you, Shellie Neumeier, Trish Perry, and Janelle Mowery for your generosity in providing books!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Entering our weekly drawing is easy:

1. Leave a comment on Fridays or...

2. Sign up to follow The Borrowed Book. Followers will automatically be entered for a chance to win that week's drawing!

T
his week, The Borrowed Book is giving away:


Driven by Shellie Neumeier ~ Robyn can’t help but notice the handsome new guy at her school. She ignores, however, the arrival of another being at Brookfield Central High School—a demon assigned to destroy her…

Robyn loves her friends, enjoys her youth group, and looks forward to meeting cute Caleb Montague. But when a caustic news reporter challenges her school’s prayer team, Robyn must choose: defend their right to meet on campus and pray for whomever they wish or back down at the principal’s request.

Now she must learn what God wants her to do. And she had better learn fast, because there’s a supernatural enemy in town whose sole mission is to stop her—no matter the cost.


Unforgettable by Trish Perry ~ Rachel Stanhope tries to see the good in everyone. But Josh Reegan tests even her good graces when they meet outside her Arlington, Virginia, dance studio in 1951. He’s attractive, yet his cynicism and cockiness are hard to tolerate.

A journalist and former World War II Air Force pilot, Josh considers ballroom dancing a frivolous waste of time. Although Rachel’s confident nature is a refreshing
challenge, he wouldn’t tangle with her if his newspaper hadn’t assigned him to cover her studio’s competition in New York City.

Between the melodrama of ballroom antics and the real drama of political corruption, Rachel and Josh have their hands full. The last thing either of them expects is mutual need and support. But once they stop dancing around the truth, the results are unforgettable.

When All My Dreams Come True by Janelle Mowery ~ Bobbie McIntyre dreams of running a ranch of her own. Raised without a mother and having spent most of her time around men, she knows more about wrangling than acting like a lady. The friendship of her new employer awakens a desire to learn more about presenting her feminine side, but ranch life keeps getting in the way.

Ranch owner Jace Kincaid figures the Lord is testing his faith when a female wrangler shows up looking for work. Bobbie has an uncanny way of getting under his skin, though, and he’s surprised when she finds a home next to his heart. But when his cattle begin to go missing and his wranglers are in danger from some low-down cattle thief, can Jace trust God, even if it may mean giving up on his dreams?

An adventurous novel of faith, hope, and love in the Wild West.

Winners will be announced on Saturday, 03/19/11.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I'm thrilled to have my good friend Janelle Mowery with us today at The Borrowed Book. Here's what Janelle has to say about herself:

Janelle Mowery lives in Texas with her husband and two sons, though a portion of her heart still resides in her birth state of Minnesota. Janelle began writing inspirational stories in 2001 and has since written several historical novels as well as a mystery series. Her first published novel, Where the Truth Lies, released in 2008. This was followed in 2010 by The Christmas Chain, part of a Christmas anthology titled, A Woodland Christmas. Her second novel, Love Finds You in Silver City, Idaho, released October 2010 and received four stars from the Romantic Times review. Janelle's Colorado trilogy will release in 2011. The first of this series, When All My Dreams Come True, also received four stars from the Romantic Times review. When she isn’t writing, her interests include reading, enjoying nature, and visiting historical sites. To learn more, visit her Web site at www.janellemowery.com.

Welcome, Janelle. We at The Borrowed Book have watched your writing career blossom in the last few years, and we're all delighted with your success. When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?

I carried my first story around in my head for a year before I sat down and started writing it out. Before that one was finished, the second story came to me. Before I finished writing the second, the third one formed. I think that’s when I realized that writing is what I really wanted to do.

It sounds like God was already giving you the stories He wanted you to write even before you sat down to put the words on paper. After you began writing, how long did it take to make that first sale?

I started writing that first story on January 1, 2001. I signed my first contract in 2006. The publishing world is not a speedy process.

I know you have several books out right now, but what is the title of your current release?

The title of my most recent release is When All My Dreams Come True.


Give our readers a blurb about it.

Bobbie McIntyre dreams of running a ranch of her own. Raised without a mother and having spent most of her time around men, she knows more about wrangling than acting like a lady. The friendship of her new employer awakens a desire to learn more about presenting her feminine side, but ranch life keeps getting in the way. Ranch owner Jace Kincaid figures the Lord is testing his faith when a female wrangler shows up looking for work. Bobbie has an uncanny way of getting under his skin, though, and he’s surprised when she finds a home next to his heart. But when his cattle begin to go missing and his wranglers are in danger from some low-down cattle thief, can Jace trust God, even if it may mean giving up on his dreams?

What inspirational message do you want readers to take away after reading When All My Dreams Come True?

I’d like the readers to know that even when times are tough, it’s best to trust the Lord…ESPECIALLY when times are tough…that we shouldn’t grow weary and lose heart but to keep our eyes fixed on Him. Some of my favorite verses are Hebrews 12:1-3.

Which character in the book is your favorite? Why?

I’d have to say that Bobbie is my favorite character. A friend put it this way and I have to agree…She's flawed, real and multi-dimensional. She's spunky and willing to speak her mind, yet respectful at the same time. She was hurting and proud, yet willing to accept help. All and all a very sympathetic heroine.

Where one has lived often affects the settings a writer uses in his/her stories. Have you found this to be true in your writing?

Very much so. There’s a place not a mile down the road from where I live. A creek cuts through the land and one has to cross a pipe to get to the other side. It’s one of the most peaceful places I know. It was this very place that I thought of as I wrote When All My Dreams Come True. I just had to picture it surround by the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

Having been friends with you for a long time, I know you are dedicated to your family, friends, and your church. How do you juggle all your responsibilities and still find time to write wonderful novels?

Not well. LOL. I’m far from being an organized person. In fact, the word ‘organization’ is a very bad word and rarely a part of my vocabulary. LOL. So when all that you mentioned above are on a collision course, I tend to get a bit stressed. My husband tells me I work well under pressure. That may be so, but that pressure sure makes me droop once all is back to normal again.

I also know you to be a fun-loving individual who likes to laugh and live life to the fullest. What would you say is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Quirky? Me? Do something quirky? May it never be! Well…okay, maybe sometimes. But let me say this…one woman’s quirk is another’s normal. (smile) Let’s see, I’ve jumped out of a perfectly good airplane just to see what skydiving was like. I killed a large snake in my garage…with a butcher knife. Hey, it was a desperate times=desperate measures kind of thing. Hmm…other than that, I’m pretty normal, unless you consider getting my picture taken by a game cam while piggy back riding on my husband’s back in the dark as quirky. He was being very chivalrous…trying to keep my feet dry. Um…long story.

It seems like I remember that story about the snake. (smile) But let's talk about happier things. What are you working on now? Can we expect other books to release soon?

Right now, I’m working on a Christmas anthology as well as the first book of another historical series. As for other releases, books two and three of my mystery series, titled Died in the Wool and Inn Plain Sight, written with Elizabeth Ludwig will release May 1 and November 1 this year. Also, books two and three of my Colorado historical series, titled When Love Gets in the Way and When Two Hearts Meet, will release in October this year. And my second Christmas anthology, Christmas at Barncastle Inn, will release September 1 this year.

For the aspiring writers who may be reading this, what advice would you give them?

This is NOT an easy road you’ve chosen, but don’t give up. It takes hard work and plenty of patience, but I’ve found that when I let God do the driving instead of me trying to take over, the road was so much easier to navigate. Follow God’s timing. Enjoy the journey. And take time to look back at the steps the Lord has led you through to get to where you are. I can see God’s hand all over my journey from the time I picked up my first Lori Wick book, to my first writer’s conference, as well as those He’s placed in my path to help me along the way. I can only praise Him and give Him the glory.

Great advice, Janelle. Writing is definitely not an easy road to choose. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us that I haven’t asked?

If you’re serious about becoming published, try to get to a writer’s conference. The things you’ll learn and the contacts you’ll make are beyond priceless. And get involved with a critique group. As the Bible says, iron sharpens iron, and your writing will be sharpened with the help of other authors.

Thank you so much for being a guest today. If you haven't read Janelle's book When All My Dreams Come True, you're missing a great read. She's left us with a wonderful thought today about what the Bible has to say about iron sharpening iron. For you writers, what Bible verse inspires you to keep writing? We'd like to know.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Shellie Neumeier holds a degree in Secondary Education from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with a minor in Psychology, Sociology and Social Studies. A devoted mother of four, Shellie previously worked on staff with Northbrook Church as the King’s Kids ministry assistant (serving children in grades 2nd through 5th), developing and writing curriculum, involving families and volunteers in King’s Kids programs and encouraging the spiritual growth in school-aged children. Shellie’s YA novel, Driven, is now available in electronic form and is scheduled for print release March 1, 2011 from Risen Fiction. She is an active member of SCBWI and ACFW as well as a contributing author at various blogs including Samiesisters.com, and thebarndoor.net.




Driven by Shellie Neumeier
Kindle release: December 1, 2010
Paperback release: March 1, 2011
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http://www.risenfiction.com/driven-by-shellie-neumeier/
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http://shellieneumeier.com/

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


This is supposed to be a *writing* site, not a recipe haven. But every writer needs a break, right? And every writer needs to eat. So just think of this as a healthy recipe for writers who need to take a break. There. Now I'm writing related.

Oh, and there might be a contest opp too. . .


Black Bean & Corn Salsa

2 cans Corn (15 Oz.), Drained
1 can Chopped Chilies (4 Oz), Drained
1 can Chopped Jalapenos (4 Oz), Drained (variation below)
2 can Black Beans, Drained And Rinsed
1 whole Red Bell Pepper (Chopped)
1 bunch(es) Scallions, Chopped
1 cup Sour Cream
1 bag Finely Grated Mexican Cheese (8 Oz)
½ bunch(es) Fresh Cilantro, Coarsely Chopped (or To Taste)

Throw everything together, except jalapenos, and let it marinade overnight. Placed sliced jalapenos on top before serving. This way they are easy to remove for those who are faint of heart. didn’t add any salt to the recipe mainly because the chips that you use for dipping will be salty enough, imo.

Now it's your turn!

Since I just got a box of my latest historical romance that releases next month, Promise of Time (Gettysburg, PA), a book goes to the person who can give the healthiest, easiest, tastiest, five ingredient or less recipe for this poor, sit-on-my-soft-spot-all-day writer. I'll try them all and pick the best so PLEASE SHARE! (Because a trip to the store is probably inevitable, I'll announce the winner Saturday. Sound good?)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Award-winning novelist Trish Perry has written eight inspirational romances for Harvest House Publishers, Summerside Press, and Barbour Publishing, as well as two devotionals for Summerside Press. She has served as a columnist and as a newsletter editor over the years, as well as a 1980s stockbroker and a board member of the Capital Christian Writers organization in Washington, D.C. She holds a degree in Psychology.

Trish’s latest novel, Unforgettable, releases in March, and Tea for Two releases in April. She invites you to visit her at www.TrishPerry.com

Did you see yourself becoming a writer as a child? If not, what did you dream of being?

No, I only dabbled in writing on rare occasions in my youth. If anything, I dreamed of being an actress, because I absolutely loved movies. But I never did much to pursue that dream, other than throwing together the occasional play for the neighborhood kids with my siblings. I did get a thrill from those, but by the time I was in high school, I
had become far too shy to go after acting roles. I wasn’t quite sure what to pursue, really, until I was beyond college age.

How long did you write before you sold your first book?

I started seriously writing around 1994, and I got a two-book contract in 2005.

Many of the people who follow our blog are aspiring writers themselves. Can you share your favorite writing tip with them?

Always start your day by dedicating your writing to God. Ask for His guidance and inspiration and ask Him to help you stay disciplined to accomplish what He wants you to accomplish during your day. When I started doing that, I found myself less stressed if I had a family event that required my attention or if I got a rejection or if I wasn’t 100 p
ercent pleased with what I had written that day. I knew His hand was in it, regardless. And the removal of that stress seemed to free my mind and make writing less of a task and more of a service to Him. I knew that, if I was doing the best I could, I was following His will for me and my writing.

Now for the readers…many times, it’s easy for them to connect with the characters in a book, but not so much the authors themselves. Share something about your day-to-day life that might help a reader to feel as though they know you a little better.

I struggle with the same thing everyone struggles with, especially the fact that the day passes by far too quickly for me to get done everything I want to get done. The dusting doesn’t get done, I don’t work out often enough, there’s always work unfinished at day’s end, and I have to force myself to give attention to others who need and deserve it. I honestly don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have a chauffeur, maid, and beauty entourage at
my beck and call.

Now that you are published, do you still experience rejections? If so, how are these rejections different or similar to the ones you received before becoming published?

Oh, sure I still get rejections; I got one just a couple of weeks ago. The difference now is that I’m only having a paragraph rejected, rather than an entire book, because that’s all the publisher needs to see before deciding, usually. What a relief! And the rejection is definitely about that paragraph, rather than the idea of working with me, so I feel more hopeful about future work being accepted. I should add, though, that should that one paragraph be accepted, the publisher usually wants to see a one-page summary before offering me a contract. Still, that part of the process does get easier as time goes on.

Tell us a
little about your latest release:

Rachel Stanhope tries to see the good in everyone. But even her good graces are challenged when she meets Josh Reegan outside her Arlington, Virginia dance studio on a brisk fall morning in 1951. Admittedly, he’s attractive, but she finds his cynicism and cockiness hard to tolerate.

A hard-news journalist and former World War II Air Force pilot, Josh considers distractions like ballroom dancing frivolous wastes of time. He has yet to shed his wartime drive to defend good against evil whenever he can. Yes, Rachel’s confident nature is a refreshing challenge, but he wouldn’t tangle with her if his newspaper hadn’t roped him into covering one of her studio’s competitions in New York City.

Between Arlington and New York, between the melodrama of ballroom antics and the real drama of political corruption, between family involvement and romantic entanglement, Rachel and Josh have their hands full. The last thing either of them expects is mutual need and support. But once they stop dancing around the truth, the results are unforgettable.

If you could only share one line from Unforgettable, which one would you choose and why?

Wow, that’s a hard one. I’m sure if you asked me this question ten different times, I’d give you ten different answers. But I just pulled this short line out:

“That’s the way a man in love acts.”

I chose that line because I think nothing is more romantic than love acted out. Plenty of men can turn a phrase to express love beautifully. Or they can lavish their loved one with gifts. Or they can kiss to make her swoon. But when a man truly loves a woman, he treats her as someone precious, someone he cherishes. I love to see that between a couple, and I portrayed some of that in Unforgettable.

Writers often put things in their books that are very personal—like a funny story that happened to them, a spiritual truth they learned through difficulty, or even just a character trait that is uniquely theirs. Is there something in Unforgettable that only people close to you know is about you or someone you know?

I’m stretching here to give you an answer. The parts of me or my life that make it into any of my stories are unconscious on my part. Although I’ve inserted little tidbits I’ve learned about healthy relationships in past novels, Unforgettable unfolded pretty organically—gosh, I cringe when people use that word, but it works here. Still, I can look at the elderly couple in Unforgettable and see traces of my parents’ relationship. They tease each other and love each other like Mr. and Mrs. Chambers do, so it was easy to imagine the Chambers realistically.
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Readers often talk a lot about the hero and heroine of a story, but today I’d like to know something about your villain. Does he or she have a redeeming quality? Why or why not?
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The troublemaker in Unforgettable is a jealous egotist who has no qualms about making a scene. There is eventually a brief moment of humility and remorse on his part. But I’m sorry, honey, we still don’t like him.

What kind of research did you have to do for this book? Can you share some articles or website links you found particularly helpful?

I corresponded several times with a representative with the USA Dance Central Office in Cape Coral, Florida in order to get my ballroom dances and dance competition history correct. I also used CDs of ballroom dance lessons to get a feel for the basic dances and how they’re taught—the lingo, the first things students learn, etc.

I had a recent computer crash and lost my backup, but I’ve gone back to find a few of the links I found useful. There are two hotels that feature in the book, and I loved the fact that I was able to see what they looked like in the early fifties:

The Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach, Virginia http://www.cavalierhotel.com/history/index.cfm
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The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan http://www.waldorfnewyork.com/photo-gallery/original.cfm?LinkToGo=original_1

There were a number of other topics I researched for my reporter hero, since he wrote a number of human-interest articles during the story: A&W Root Beer; tabletop jukeboxes; the first fire department established in Arlington, Virginia; segregation; the local government structure; and other such topics.

And I had a great time researching fashions and music of the era!

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

Tea for Two, the second novel in my Tea With Millicent series with Harvest House Publishers, releases April 1. I’m eager to hear what readers think of Milly’s latest involvement with people passing through her tea shop. This book features Tina, a young psychological counselor who Milly enlists to help the handsome farmer who supplies the tea shop with fresh produce. He has two troubled teens on his hands, and he joins forces with Tina to try to keep them out of hot water. Before long things heat up in a different fashion.

Delight Yourself in the Lord…Even on Bad Hair Days, the Summerside Press devotional I wrote with Sandie Bricker, Kristin Billerbeck, Diane Hunt, and Debby Mayne, released March 1, and another, tentatively called Your Grace is Sufficient, But Decaf is NOT, will release at the end of the year (I believe).

In September, Summerside will release Love Finds You on Christmas Morning, which contains Debby Mayne’s historic novel, Deck the Halls, and my contemporary follow-up novel, ‘Tis the Season.

The most common thing I hear when people learned I’ve published a book is, “I’ve always wanted to do that.” Faced with this statement, what advice would you give to someone just starting out in this business?

I would say, “Every published author started out feeling that way. You can do it if you want it enough.”

The very first thing I would advise is that they join American Christian Fiction Writers. I don’t care where you are in your writing career—right at the start or years into publishing—there are advantages to belonging to this wonderful group. You can learn so much about the craft and the business in general, you can meet people who have experience to share, you can attend the annual conference and make friends and contacts that will last the rest of your life.

And I would advise the new writer to read plenty of books on the craft (you could start with Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson, and then move on to craft books by James Scott Bell, Jeff Gerke, and Brandilyn Collins, just to get you rolling). And read a lot of novels. If you don’t enjoy reading novels, you really have no business writing them.

What is the one question you were afraid I would ask…and how would you answer?

That was it, Lisa.

And that’s how I would answer it.
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Trish is giving away a copy of her book, Unforgettable. Stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday for your chance to win!

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