I've mentioned before how blessed I am by getting to know other authors. Well, let me tell you. The one chatting with me today is a peach! Liana George is a fellow Scrivenings author, and she's here to talk about her debut novel, Perfectly Arranged. Read on, because you're going to enjoy this one.
Congratulations on your first book! From the moment you first got the idea to write this story, how long did it take to get here?
Thanks! I first got the idea for the book in 2007-2008 while living in China. I was asked to research an address on a business card for a family friend. I never did locate the property but always wondered what was there. Thinking it would make a good story one day, I tucked it away in my writing idea notebook. Sometime in early 2017, I finally figured out how to make a book out of the idea and started writing my novel in December 2017.
I know you've got two more books coming out in this series (and I'm so excited to read them and see what happens). Did you originally mean for this to be a trilogy, or did it take over and grow more than you thought it would?
I’d always planned on it being a trilogy, but I never saw the story going the way it has, especially for books 2 (Perfectly Placed) and 3 (Perfectly Matched). But that’s the beauty of a story! It takes the author in the direction it wants to go sometimes, and we just have to go with the flow.
It's always a pleasure to have one of my fellow Scrivenings Press authors on here for an interview. Today, Michelle de Bruin is joining us, talking about her newest book, which sounds amazing, and some of the fun research that went into it. Read on!
Michelle, congrats on the recent release of your fourth book. Can you tell us if this book is connected to your last series or is this a completely new series?
This book starts a new series, but the characters in this book are people we met in my first series of books.
Your characters in this book are older than the ones in your last few. Was that easier or harder to write? Why?
Even though these main characters are older than the ones in my first book, they are actually close in age to myself, so creating them and writing their story came pretty easy because I thought about how I would handle the situations that came up in the book. Some of the events, like second marriages and the arrival of grandchildren have happened to people in my era of life. I could develop these characters with an accurate level of maturity because of the realistic responses I've witnessed to these sorts of circumstances.
What was one of the most interesting things you uncovered when you were researching for this story?
Writing this story required research of the first airplanes ever invented. Here are some interesting facts I learned about the Wright Model B pusher biplane while writing this story:
The biplane required 100 yards to take off.
It was produced between the years of 1910 and 1914.
It had a 39 foot wingspan and a 4 cylinder engine.
It's speed was on average 44 mph.
President Theodore Roosevelt was the first American President to fly. In October 1910, a man by the name of Arch Hoxsey took the President as a passenger on his Wright Model B.
Every now and then, someone super special comes into your life, and four years ago, that's what happened to me. I met Sarah Anne Crouch when dropping my daughter off for Bible class one of the first Sundays we visited where we worship now. Our daughters became immediate best friends and Sarah and I followed suit. Although I'm not happy that she's moved to a different state, I am thrilled that she's just released her first book. And I know you're going to enjoy getting to know this special author, too.
Hi Sarah. Congrats on your first book. Can you tell me what first inspired you to be an author?
I've always loved stories. When I was a kid, I devoured any book I could get my hands on, and I wrote all kinds of terrible poems and mysteries and even one horror comedy. About ten years ago, my husband, who was probably sick of hearing me just talk about wanting to write, bought me a copy of Writing the Christian Romance by Gail Gaymer Martin. A few years later, I only had a partially completed manuscript, but I met a very nice lady at church (named Amy Anguish!) who encouraged me to keep writing. And I'm so glad she did!
What made you choose Northwest Arkansas as your setting?
I consider Arkansas, specifically Northwest Arkansas, my home. There just aren't enough books set in Arkansas, in my opinion. Shady Springs is loosely based on the town I grew up in, Prairie Grove, Arkansas. The real town has a State Battlefield Park, an abundance of antique shops, and a popular craft fair every Labor Day weekend. The fictional town has a few changed details, but I tried to bring the real-life charm of Prairie Grove to the page.
I don't read a ton of suspense novels, because I like mine to be a little less ... stressful. Ha! But, if I were to go pick one up, the author I'm interviewing today is one who would tempt me. Cindy Bonds is part of the Scrivenings Press family with me, and her second book released a few months ago. I think you're going to enjoy getting to know her a little more, as well as learning about her books. Read on!
Hey Cindy. Congrats on your second book! Is this book connected to the first book, or are they both stand-alone?
Both of these books are stand alone. Since I’m relatively new to the market, I wanted to get my foot in the door and learn with these two first! There are some similarities as in most of my books. I enjoy a strong female lead and someone that can stand up for herself. The other side of that also means that the male protagonist has to be strong as well and willing to put up with a bit of a stubborn streak!
What is it about suspense that makes you love that genre the most?
I love the tension and mystery in suspense. How all the characters interact and fit together, how the mystery clings and characters change and evolve through the story is a wonderful thing to read. Figuring out the mystery as to not only why, but how everything connects is what draws me in.
When I’m reading a really great suspenseful novel, all the mystery connects beautifully and makes it one of those books you want to read over and over again! One day, I aspire to be that writer with that book!
I'm thrilled to have Candace West, one of my Scrivenings sisters, back on here today. Why am I having her back? Because her third book is about to release next month. And I'm very much looking forward to reading it because of how much I loved the character in the last book. :-) So, without further ado, read on to find out more.
Hey Candace, congrats on your third book. When you started writing this series with Lane Steen, did you know it was going to be a series?
Hi Amy, I’m excited to be here. Thank you for inviting me! Early on, I knew I wanted to make a series from Lane Steen. As I delved deeper into the lives of the different characters, I started planning which ones would eventually have their own stories. And a few of them took me by surprise.
This newest story follows one of the secondary characters from your second book. Will we be seeing any of the other characters come back this time, too?
Absolutely. You’ll see nearly all of them throughout the story in addition to a few new ones. Also, Lane’s best friend Tabitha, from book one, will be a part of this story. Some of you may remember that Tabitha wasn’t in book two, Valley of Shadows.
One of the authors I've enjoyed getting to know via social media and zoom meetings with our mutual publishing company over the last few years is Pamela S Meyers. I've also enjoyed reading her series of books set in Lake Geneva, WI. Her fourth book just released and I'm super excited to see where she took the story (besides WWII). Read on to find out more about her and her beautiful series.
Pam, this is the fourth book in your series, and each is set in a different time period. Did you find you enjoyed researching one time period more than another? Why?
I didn't expect to like the time period of the first book as it was set in 1873 at the time of the Great Chicago Fire, because I'd never written a story set before phones were commonly used and people drove cars, not buggies. But as I got into the story I found I really enjoyed it and enjoyed the challenge of being careful to not use vocabulary that was not in the vernacular of the time. Each time period after that which is about 20 years or so after the previous book had certain challenges and I learned a lot about each one. My favorite, though is Book 4, set in 1942-43 homefront WWII. I loved the forties and the way the U.S. pulled together with a "can-do" spirit.
I don't think I would've even though about vocabulary! Great job on the details.
As you've followed this family through the years, have you included anything from your own family's history in your stories?
Not anything specific. My family didn't move to Lake Geneva until around 1946 so they weren't around even during the time period of the first one. But the unique thing is the town itself didn't change a whole lot from the 1930s going forward until the 1970s. I used the bowling alley for a good part of Rose Harbor. It was the same bowling alley I learned to bowl in and where my dad bowled in a bowling league for years. I pretty much described it as it was. I also bring in some of the real townspeople such as the family who owned the bowling alley back then. Grace, my heroine, although proficient at flying large bomber airplanes was a lousy bowler, as am I. Mac, the hero in the story, teaches her how to throw a hook and she vastly improves. Where was Mac when I needed him? LOL.
Ha! I'm not great at bowling, either.
What made you choose Lake Geneva as your main setting for these stories?
Lake Geneva is my hometown. I was born in Ohio but we moved to L.G. when I was two and I have no memory of ever living in Ohio. The town and area have a rich and interesting history, just ripe for story ideas :-).
If you haven't read one of Susan Page Davis's books, I highly recommend it. I've read several and enjoyed every one. And you have plenty to choose from, because she's published almost a 100! Today, I'm interviewing her and helping you get to know this author I've gotten to know over the last four years through KenTen Writers and now the Scrivenings publishing group. Read on because she has fun answers.
Susan, you've written over 90 books. So, I'm curious. Could you pick a favorite?
Hmm, that’s hard, Amy. Usually I would say “Whichever one I’m working on.” But the one I’m working on now is giving me some hiccups, so I won’t pick that. I do love my newest book, Blue Plate Special. It’s the first one I’ve set in western Kentucky, where I’ve lived now for eleven years.
What started you on your path to being an author?
I’ve always loved reading, and I wrote tons of stories as a kid, but I never really though I could become an author. Then, as an adult, I watched a TV program that greatly disappointed me in its ending. I kept thinking about it and how it SHOULD have ended. Then it became, “If I had written that, I’d have done THIS.” After a while, I realized that in my mind I’d plotted out a complete, complicated story of my own. I told my husband, and he said, “Write it down!” Three months later, I was shocked to see that I had a 100,000-word novel, and it actually made sense.
Hello! This month, I'm interviewing a fellow Scrivenings Press author, and very interesting guy, C. Kevin Thompson. I've gotten to know Kevin a bit over the last year, despite not living anywhere near each other, and I'm thrilled to help you get to know him, too. So, without further ado, read on to find out more about him and his amazing story, The Letters, which I just read recently and enjoyed.
Kevin, your bio says your love of writing grew in middle school (mine, too). Is there a book or two you can think of that really stuck with you and made you want to write something like that? Or was it more the teacher?
I liked the creative aspect of writing, I guess, like many other kids in elementary and middle school. As I grew up, I was always thinking of scenarios and coming up with spoofs of stories or situations that I always thought would make great commercials. That’s why I appreciate so much the GEICO commercials. They are so creative. The Pinocchio as a motivational speaker one is my favorite. “You have potential! And you have potential. And you have—oh boy…” So good.
Although I liked the creative aspect of writing, I was not much a reader until I hit the age of 13 (So, there is hope out there, all you Moms with boys.) The book that got me interested in reading was Jaws. I wanted to be a marine biologist growing up, until I realized spending months at sea was part of the job description. I get deathly seasick, and when I attempted to take up scuba diving, I knew that was not something that would work for me. However, marine biology was what got me interested in Jaws. That book got me interested in reading. Reading got me interested in so many other things. Now look at me. Award-winning author. Two Masters Degrees. Former ELA teacher and now an administrator. You see? It can happen.
Congratulations on being a Finalist for the 2021 Selah awards. Can you tell us a little about The Letters and what inspired you to write it?
Thank you (He says with a smile). The Letters came from a heart and desire to deal with an issue that I didn’t feel was handled very much, if at all, and when it was, not very well (abortion). I also was working on a personal study at the time wherein passages like Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8, where it talks about a day to the Lord is like a thousand years, and vice versa. This coupled with a conversation about abortion and what happens to all the aborted children caused me to seek a Biblical perspective on how God views time and redemption. Other passages like, Jeremiah 1:5, made me realize that time to us and time to God are two entirely different things. We are tied to clocks and calendars. He isn’t. He can stand over time and see the past and into the future simultaneously. How else could he see Jeremiah in his mother’s womb and know he’s going to be a prophet? How else could He know to put two angels on the Ark of the Covenant, creating the Mercy Seat, and then hundreds of years later, recreate that same concept at the Resurrection when the two angels sat at the head and foot of the place where Jesus was laid (and no doubt sat when He rose from the dead), thus recreating the Mercy Seat all over again (cf. John 20:12)?
This study came on the heels of when The Shack came out and took the Church by storm. I personally had trouble with the theology of that book, and wanted to make sure I dealt Biblically with the theology of The Letters.
It also is written with a tinge of allegory sprinkled in for good measure, but instead of giving everything away, I’ll let the reader determine who plays the role of Satan and who plays the role of Jesus.
Today, we welcome my fellow Scrivenings author, Deborah Sprinkle. I've gotten to know her a bit over the last year through zoom calls, and she's a delight to chat with. I hope you enjoy getting to know her just as much.
Deborah, congratulations on the recent publication of your second novel. As someone who majored in Chemistry and taught for a long time, what made you decide to write murder mysteries?
I've been an avid reader of mysteries since I was young, beginning with Agatha Christie. So when I retired from teaching chemistry and felt the desire to write, I naturally gravitated to the mystery/suspense genre. What's ironic is that my very first book was a patriotic devotional that I co-wrote with a friend! It was published in 2013 and it was another six years before my debut romantic suspense novel came out.
Are there any people in your past who have inspired or been a big help in your path to publication?
I started going to the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers' Conference in 2011. There I met so many great people who would later become friends. One in particular has mentored me for many years now. That's DiAnn Mills. She's an award winning romantic suspense author who's written over 40 books that have sold over one million copies. Yet she believes in helping other authors, like me, get started and be successful. That's what I love about the Christian writing world.
I know you've lived several different places. Did you base the town in your books on any town from your past or bits and pieces of several?
Yes. For many years, we lived on a 30 acre lake in northern Indiana much like the one I describe in my first book. It was near a community that was smaller than Pleasant Valley, and not within an hour of a big city like Cincinnati, but the house and the lake are very similar to ours. I'm not sure why I chose southern Ohio as the location. I just knew I wanted Pleasant Valley close enough to a big city to give myself options for future stories.
I don't know about you, but I'm friends with my former English professors from college. We keep up on Facebook and they cheer me on with each book, which is amazing. So, when I saw one of them cheering on another Freed graduate, I knew exactly how that felt. And the more I read about her and her book, the more I wanted to know. So, I reached out to new author Karly Cross, and she agreed to do an interview. After all, if I want to know more, you probably will, too, right?
Hi Karly, welcome! I'm always excited to meet other alum from Freed-Hardeman who are also authors. When did you first decide you wanted to write?
Hi! Thank you so much for having me! This is definitely a blessing to be able to answer these questions with you. I love that Freed has connected us and that we have that connection to each other here in the writing world.
As cliché as it may sound, I think I’ve always had the writer’s spirit in me. I was writing silly songs and poems from the time I could read, and all my fantastical stories were my favorite way to express myself. Creating and writing have always just been part of who I am.
Your first book looks great. I'm always excited to find more books for my children to read as they grow, especially ones that include the Bible. What inspired you to write a book about going back to Bible times?
Thank you so much! It was definitely a labor of love, and I hope your kids enjoy it, truly!
I think sometimes when we read the Bible, we forget the humanity of the people we’re told about. It’s so easy to slip into the mindset of “these are stories” rather than “these are historical accounts.” By having the characters, Riley and Gabe, go back into these accounts, in my opinion, it gives young people a chance to really explore the humanity of the biblical people. It broadens the scope and shifts the perspective, which I think can be beneficial to all.
This is a place for me to tell you about what I'm writing, talk about the process or where some of my ideas came from, or even have other authors come in and talk about their books.
Authors I Love to Read (in no particular order)