Happy New Year all! I'm excited about bringing a whole new set of interviews to you this year, and first up is Allison Pearl. She's a sister author with Anaiah Press, and her books sound so good. I've really enjoyed getting to know her, and I think you will, too.
Hey Allison, I notice that all of your books have my favorite food on the cover. :-) What about donuts made you think murder mystery?
The murder part was more of an afterthought. First on the brain was doughnuts. I probably would’ve put them in anything, but I can’t do cookbooks, so murder it is.
If you had to branch out and write about a different kind of food, what do you think you'd pick?
I love a good pie. And they’re not easy either, which would be good in a book. The crusts and filling are finnicky and complicated. They’re hard work, but worth it. There’s got to be a story in there somewhere.
Pies are hard, yes. I've never perfected making a crust, so I totally get the analogy.
I'm noticing some names like Knightly and Bennet in your book descriptions. Any relation to the beloved characters of Jane Austen or did you just like the names?
The names are absolutely Austen inspired. To me, she was the first of us. She wrote amazing stories that kept you turning the pages long after bedtime. And even though the endings were always happy, she didn’t shy away from weaving the real struggles of women in her time into the narrative. Struggles that in some ways we are still dealing with today. Ultimately, I wanted my first published novels to be a nod to the woman who started it all.
Hi all! Today, I'm pleased to introduce you to a new-to-me author. The joy of working with several different publishing groups, is I get to meet and know several different authors, too. Today, I'm chatting with a fellow Anaiah Press author, Sara Beth Williams. Read on because she's pretty fun!
Sara Beth, welcome to my blog. I love getting to know other authors on here. To start, can you tell us what inspired you to start writing?
I’ve been writing since junior high. I’ve written poetry ,and copy cat stories, kids' stories, and YA stories. Then later, as I matured, and began reading Christian Romance, specifically Hallee Bridgeman’s Jewel series, I fell in love with the genre and thought to myself – I can absolutely write this.
Nice! What are some ways that your stories stand out from other romances (yes, I know this is a hard question--especially since I write romance, too)?
I love to write characters who are authentic and deep and messy. My characters deal with a lot of family drama. I also stray from writing about rich characters. My third book releasing in March, 2021, also delves into a little bit of mental illness.
One of the privileges I've discovered with being published by multiple houses is that I have multiple publishing families. I'm still getting to know the authors over at Anaiah Press, but I'm enjoying it, too. And I hope you'll enjoy getting to know brand new author Jennifer Chastain with me. Here's the fun interview about her and her new novel, which sounds like so much fun!
How does it feel to have your first book "birthed?"
How do I describe my first book being published? When I saw the email saying, "Congratulations! We'd like to offer you a book contract for "The Mistletoe Contract", I started crying. But these were happy tears of joy. It's surreal, exciting, scary, and all those other adjectives thrown in! It's been a long awaited dream coming to fruition with a lot of long nights of writing. I guess I can sum it up in one word - overwhelming.
I completely agree with all those adjectives. :-)
When did you first decide to become a writer?
Oh wow, this is another tough question. Over twenty-five years ago I felt this strong urge to write. However, I was unsure and scared and really had no idea where to start. I have loved to read since I was a young child and was always making up stories for my Barbie and Ken dolls. However, six years ago, I felt God's call again and I said "I should write a book. I think I could do that." Before this, I lacked confidence in myself and my abilities but God kept nudging my heart to do this. And to be honest, He wouldn't let me rest. So I did a Google search for "How to write a novel" and up popped Novel Academy/My Book Therapy, with Susan May Warren teaching the StoryCrafter classes. I learned so much and am still learning.
Today, I'm interviewing fellow Anaiah Press author, Sally Ling. The more I learn about this lady, the more fascinated I am. Read on and see if you feel the same.
What started you down the road of writing books about Florida history?
I was a special correspondent for the Sun Sentinel newspaper and my editor assigned me a story about some old World War II buildings on the campus of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida that used to be part of the Boca Raton Army Air Field (1942-1947). After I wrote my article, I realized this was a much bigger story than the 700 words I was assigned. I wrote a second article for a local magazine (2000 words), yet the story still wasn’t given adequate space. My first book on Florida history turned out to be the amazing story of how the Boca Raton Army Air Field played a pivotal role in winning WWII. The story was made into a feature documentary by our local PBS station.
What is your favorite part of living in Florida?
The weather. Although it’s hot in Florida in the summer, so is the rest of the country. Where I live (southeast coast), there is always a breeze, and the winter is beautiful. Typically, I go to North Carolina for the summer.
I know you write both fiction and nonfiction. Do you have a preference or like each for different reasons?
I typically alternate my writing between nonfiction and fiction. Nonfiction involves a copious amount of research, so it typically takes me longer to write. I must say, however, that my fiction books also require lots of research as you’ll note in Women of the Ring. Regarding fiction, I’ve always had a vivid imagination, and for that reason I love writing fiction. The challenge of weaving a story together and not really knowing where I’m going until I get there is exciting to me. I’m a pantster writer (I write by the seat of my pants).
Today, I'm pleased to have Sarah Floyd back with us. It's been a while since she's been a guest on my blog, and she has all sorts of exciting news about TWO new releases in her series. Read on to find out more.
Sarah, congrats on publishing the third book in your series. Does this complete the series? Can you tell us just a bit about this one?
Thank you very much! I was beginning to wonder if I’d ever finish this book. I think Joy Complete is the final book in my Voice of Joy series. The only reason I’m not 100% sure is that I’m having a hard time letting go of my characters. I’ve been writing about them, and them only, for almost 8.5 years!
Joy Complete is a story of Joy’s experiences in marriage and motherhood. It takes place a few years later than the first and second books in the series, so quite a bit has changed. Joy finds herself overwhelmed, as so many women do, with the many different responsibilities that she must juggle simultaneously, but she learns to lean on God and the loved ones who support her.
You've been so busy! You also published a novella earlier this year, right? Can you tell us what it's about? It's a prequel, right?
Yes, life has been extremely chaotic! My novella, Joy Begins, came out in late February. It is a prequel to the Voice of Joy series and details Joy’s time with her aunt and uncle on their farm back in 2001; Joy is a troubled 14-year-old during this book. Joy Begins is unique because it is told from the perspective of Joy’s aunt, Joann, whereas the three novels are written from Joy’s perspective.
Today, I'm pleased to introduce you to a very sweet author friend, Laurean Brooks. I had the pleasure to meet her two years ago at KenTen Writers' Retreat, and we've kept in touch ever since. Her stories are fun and full of easy-to-love characters. Read on to get to know her better and hear about her newest book, which sounds delightful!
Laurean, how long have you been writing and what inspired you to first get started?
Amy, first of all I want to thank you for taking the time to interview me. I’m honored to be your guest. To answer your question, I’ve been writing since 5th grade, but first had essays published in our local Hometown magazine in December 2002. It was six years later before I finished my first book, Journey To Forgiveness. This book will always be close to my heart because it’s based on my parents’ lives during the Great Depression. A romance with plenty of angst, but also plenty of humor.
I'm always interested when I notice another author has a similar work listed on her resume. We were both legal assistants (although I only did it for two years). Has your work history influenced your writing? Do you tend to write a lot of characters who have jobs you've had in the past? Any examples?
I only worked as a legal assistant two years, also. Four attorneys in four years. They kept downsizing, and guess who was let go. Yeah, me. I think I was too friendly for the job. LOL. Anyway, I decided to take the computer lessons I’d had in college and try my hand as a writer. It has always been my dream. My heroine in To Trust Her Heart is a legal assistant. I was able to use my experience to develop her. And believe me, Amanda’s nemesis was not far from what I was exposed to. I don’t think I could work in an office environment for long. I’ve noticed a lot of conflict among the ladies who are coworkers. And each one tries to get you to take her side.
Most of my working years was spent in a garment factory. I loved the people, but hated the grueling work on a production line sewing machine. I was eventually promoted to Quality Control, but then I grieved because I was the bad guy who sent imperfect work back to the other workers. Probably I was hated as much as Matthew, the tax collector. LOL.
Do you love cowboy romances? I know I do. If you're like me, then you're in for a treat today. I'm chatting here with Shannon Taylor Vannatter, who writes cowboy romances. I had the pleasure of meeting Shannon at the KenTen writer's retreat a few years ago, and look forward to seeing her again this August at the same place. I'm also thrilled that she is now one of my editors at Scrivenings Press. Read on to learn more about Shannon, as well as how to be entered into an amazing giveaway she's doing right now to celebrate her new release.
Shannon, you've released almost 20 books now, right? What keeps you going and gives you inspiration?
Actually, my 18th will release in March 2021. I can’t not write. I’ve tried. When I take a break, that’s usually when inspiration strikes. I’m inspired when I learn something new, hear an odd phrase, or see a headline. I also find tons of inspiration in being with other writers, just hanging out, or attending conferences. Being with other creative people inspires me and anything that interests me usually ends up in a book.
Today, I'm interviewing my fellow author Hope Toler Dougherty. Her fourth book is about to release, and I know the one story of hers I've read was excellent so I'm looking forward to reading more. Read on to learn more about this author and check out how you could possibly win a free copy of her book.
Hope, this is your fourth book, right? Does this book have connections to any of your other stories, or are they all stand-alone?
Forever Music is a stand-alone; however, I hope it becomes the first in a series. (I’m trying!) I like to revisit characters; for example, Jack Windham is a friend of Mary Wade’s in Rescued Hearts. He didn’t get a lot of page time in that novel, but he’s back in Forever Music as Ches’s uncle. He and his wife are an important part of Ches’s story. He’s really a cool character, and I enjoyed getting to know him better. I hope readers will, too.
The last few years have introduced me to some amazing authors, and this one is no different. I met Candace West in person last June at the Ken Ten Writing retreat, but we've also gotten to know each other online, too. I've been blessed to be able to read both of her historical fiction novels, and let me tell you--they're gritty and emotional, full of love and forgiveness. I think you'll enjoy them, too. So, let's take a few moments so you can learn a bit more about Candace and her stories.
Candace, this is your second book. When you wrote your first book, did you already have this story in mind, or did it come to you later?
By the time I finished Lane Steen, I knew that I wanted to resolve Earl and Lorena’s story. Only until last year, however, did I finally make it happen. When I began the story, I had no idea how to get those two back together, especially after the things Earl had done. I brainstormed for awhile before putting the final plot together. In between, the characters took over and shifted the story as I wrote. They were full of surprises!
Today on my interview, I have someone I've only met online, but have gotten to know quite a bit through chats on Facebook over the last year. We're both with Mantle Rock Publishing and have worked together on a couple different things over the last few months. Jessica White has a new book coming out this month, and I know you're going to love getting to know her.
Jessica, your third book is about to release. Is this story totally different from what you've done before? Can you tell us a little about it?
Yes. My Healing Seasons Series is historical, set in 1920s’ rural America. It centers on heiress Abigail Morgan and her struggle to honor her parents’ legacy to “do what’s right no matter the cost” despite the injustices she experiences and witnesses. The ripple effects of her decisions bring her and her brother into the care of a Montana doctor who is grieving the loss of his wife and failing at raising their son on his own. God brings these characters together to heal them and the communities they serve over the four book series.
One drawback of my historical series is the need to read them in order. When I was encouraged to try writing a contemporary romance, I knew I wanted to write stand-alones and decided to base them on characters from Greek mythology.
Song in the Dark is a Hades and Persephone inspired romantic suspense. This book explores what it means to overcome our darkest struggles.
For harpist Jenna Fields (Persephone), it delves into growing up with a narcissistic parent whose love is conditional on her performance and how she makes her mother look. We discover the self-destructive coping mechanisms Jenna has relied on to take back control and her struggle with her predatory ex who sees someone he can manipulate.
It also tells the story of homicide detective Dean Blackburn (Hades) who feels tainted by death. He doesn’t see himself as a rescuer but as the one who seeks justice for the dead. He struggles to accept there is a place for light and hope in his life.
When he sees that Jenna’s goodness isn’t because she’s never faced the world’s ugliness, but despite it, he determines to help her break free of her mother’s gilded cage.
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)