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#AuthorInterview + #Giveaway: Catherine West | The Things We Knew

22 Jul

Author Interview- Catherine West

Hello, dear readers! I’m so excited to welcome Catherine West back to Buzzing About Books! She has graciously answered a few questions about her latest release, The Things We Knew, and is offering a print copy for giveaway. Trust me, this is one you don’t want to miss!  Read my review of this compelling story here and purchase a copy here.

 

The Things We Knew- CoverWelcome, Cathy!!  I know you are beyond thrilled about the release of The Things We Knew! Please tell us about your road to publication with HarperCollins Christian Publishing.

CW: How much time do you have?  🙂  While I’ve been previously published with a small press, and then Indie published, my dream has always been to write for a traditional publisher. Even when the Christian publishing world began shrinking, with everyone telling me, just stick with Indie, I knew I had to pursue this dream, crazy as it might be. Fortunately, I have an agent who shares my dreams, and she never gave up on this one. It all came together in God’s perfect timing, and we are both absolutely thrilled!

What is one of the most memorable moments of your writing journey thus far?

CW: Probably getting that email from my agent that Harper Collins was offering a 2 book deal. I was just coming out of a very rough patch, where I’d totally surrendered everything to God, and this was a very surreal moment in my life – almost as though I felt Him reaching down and giving me a hug, and whispering, “Told ya to trust me.”  🙂

I love family dramas, and you portrayed the dynamics of the Carlisle family so well. Who or what inspired this complex family?

CW: I love family dramas too! It had been a goal of mine to write one, so when this story came together, I was super excited. I don’t think there was anything in particular that inspired the story, I just delved into my experiences with family and kind of went from there. If we’re talking author inspiration, then I admit to being heavily inspired by the great authors who do family drama so well – Karen Kingsbury was one of my first CBA authors I ever read, and I loved the Baxter series.

Be sure to check out Cathy’s The Things We Knew Pinterest board!

Did the characters surprise or challenge you in any way as you were writing this story?

CW: I’m always surprised. Lynette went through a lot of changes in the several re-writes of this book. She’s actually a lot stronger now than she was when I first wrote her. In a good way. She’s learned to stand on her own two feet and speak for herself. Gray was the character that kind of took the pen out of my hands, if you will. I didn’t know how much of an impact he was going to have when I first thought him up . . . and I had to really work to tone him down or he would have happily taken over the entire story.

The Things We Knew is beautifully written and the imagery is vivid! Have you spent much time on the island of Nantucket? Do you paint?

CW: I haven’t actually been to Nantucket, although when you post this, I will have! My husband surprised me with a trip and an arranged book signing the day The Things We Knew releases! While I was writing the story though, I spent a lot of time on Google maps, and walked the island as much as I could . . . it was fascinating then of course, but I can’t wait to see it in person!
Do I paint? Not a lot now, but yes, I was quite artistic all through my school years. I dabble now and again, but time is really the big block there. When I am not writing, I want to read. I’m hoping when life calms down some (if!) that I’ll pick up a brush again some day!

You address a number of issues in this novel that I believe will resonate with many readers. Did a particular message or lesson resonate with you as you penned the narrative?

CW: All my books carry the theme of redemption and forgiveness, and I think this particular story points toward those things as well. And hope. Even when things look the bleakest, there is always hope.

Do you have a favorite story moment or scene you would like to share?

CW: Ah, hard. There are so many. But since I mentioned Gray, I really love this scene – it’s a bit from the flashback scene of when he first met Tori:

Gray played a few chords. Scribbled on the sheet music in front of
him and tried again. They’d had their first gig the previous night. A
small bar in LA, but the place was packed out. Neil was ecstatic, already
on the phone booking more gigs. A record producer had been in the
crowd. They were meeting with him later that afternoon.
Neil convinced the hotel manager to give Gray use of the piano in
the ballroom for a couple of hours. They’d made mistakes last night.
That couldn’t happen again.
Gray concentrated on the music and tried not to think about what
might come next.
The sound of someone clearing their throat stilled his fingers
and forced his eyes upward. A young woman stood in the doorway,
watching him.
Gray blinked as she came into the room. She was short, but
walked with a self-assured air that told him to pay attention. Her jet-black
hair hung straight, rested on slender shoulders, and framed a
pale, perfect face. Luminous eyes the color of caramel looked him up
and down. And then she smiled.
Holy Mother of Wonderful.
Gray sucked in a breath and steadied himself on the bench. “Do
I know you?”
“Not yet.” She came a little closer. “I hear you’re on your way to
becoming the next Springsteen. Thought I’d come see for myself.”
He managed to get a grip as he checked her out. She was hotness
to the tenth degree. Tight jeans, a well-fitting T-shirt,
and Chuck Taylors. A bit too much makeup, but it didn’t matter. She had the most beautiful smile he’d ever seen.
A grin tickled his lips. “You don’t look old enough to know who
Springsteen is.”
Her laugh was even more enticing. “I’m from New Jersey. It’s in
the first grade curriculum.”

What do you hope readers will take away from this story?

CW: A sense of hope, an appreciation for family, and the knowledge that second chances are always possible when we walk in light and commit to seeking truth.

Do you plan to revisit the Carlisle family in future novels? I would love to continue their stories!

CW: Oh, I would love that too. I guess we’ll just have to see what God’s plan is there.  🙂

 

Must-havesIn your refrigerator? Blueberries and cheese
On your night stand? Water
When writing? Coffee. Coffee. Coffee.
When reading? A cozy blanket in winter, and a cold drink in summer.
When traveling? iPad and laptop. Not one. Both.

 

What can we look forward to next?

My next novel will release March 2017, and it takes place on a vineyard in Sonoma.  Here’s the synopsis:

The Memory of You

Thirteen years ago, Natalie lost a part of herself when her twin sister died. Will traveling back to the family winery finally put the memory to rest, or will it completely destroy her?

When Natalie Mitchell learns her beloved grandfather has had a heart attack, she’s forced to return to their family-owned winery in Sonoma, something she never intended to do. She’s avoided her grandparents’ sprawling home and all its memories since the summer her sister died—the awful summer Natalie’s nightmares began. But the winery is failing, and Natalie’s father wants her to shut it down. As the majority shareholder, she has the power to do so.

And Natalie never says no to her father.

Tanner Collins, the vintner on Maoilios, is trying to salvage a bad season and put the Mitchell family’s winery back in business. When Natalie Mitchell shows up, Tanner sees his future about to be crushed. Natalie intends to close the gates, unless he can convince her otherwise. But the Natalie he remembers from childhood is long gone, and he’s not so sure he likes the woman she’s become. Still, the haunted look she wears hints at secrets he wants to unearth. He soon discovers that on the night her sister died, the real Natalie died too. And Tanner must do whatever it takes to resurrect her.

But finding freedom from the past means facing it.

 

Giveaway- The Things We Knew

GIVEAWAY DETAILS – (US/CAN mailing addresses only)
One lucky reader will win a print copy of The Things We Knew!

To enter the giveaway:
Leave a comment below, and be sure to include your email address. The giveaway ends Saturday, July 30th at midnight CDT. The winner will announced and emailed on July 31st.

To earn additional entries:
Follow this blog and/or share the giveaway. Be sure to let me know what you’ve done to earn additional entries!

 

Catherine West

Thank you so much for joining us, Catherine!

Thank you for having me! I love to hear from my readers so if you want to chat about The Things We Knew or anything else, feel free to get in touch via email or FB or any of my other social media haunts! And thank you for reading!  

Connect with Catherine:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Google+ |Amazon

#AuthorInterview: Jody Hedlund | Giving Key Necklace #Giveaway

19 Mar

Author Interview- Jody Hedlund (2)

Hi, friends!  I’m excited to welcome Jody Hedlund back to the blog to talk about her latest release, A Daring Sacrifice.  I loved this story so much!  Click here to read my review.

 

You’ve based A Daring Sacrifice a little bit on the Robin Hood story. What drew you to this medieval tale?

I’ve always loved tales about underdogs rising up against injustice. The story of Robin Hood encompasses such an element, where the poor are unfairly cast from their homes, forced into hiding, and must rely upon their fearless leader to fight for their rights.

Instead of a nobleman leading and fighting for the needs of the underdogs, I decided to add a twist and have my heroine, a displaced noblewoman, be the leader of a band of poor outcasts.  As a skilled archer, she’s gained a reputation as the “Cloaked Bandit” doing her best to protect and provide for the people she’s grown to love.

 

Graphic- A Daring Sacrifice by Jody Hedlund

A Daring Sacrifice is written in first person. How do you determine what voice to use, and why did you want Juliana and Collin to tell their story?

I write all of my adult novels in third person. But in the young adult genre, first person is very popular. I think first person appeals to teens because it allows them to relate a little more intimately with the main character. They feel as if they’re one step closer and on the adventure right along with the characters, getting inside their heads and bodies and emotions. And let’s face it, teens are in an especially emotional time of life. Being able to connect emotionally to a character is important.

For all those reasons and more, I decided to write my YA series in first person as well. It’s a little tricky when switching between the hero and heroine’s POV. So my publisher decided to do different fonts to designate between the hero and the heroine’s POV. So when you see that in the book, it’s not a mistake.  It’s intentional!

 

How is writing for a YA audience different than writing for an adult audience? What are the similarities?

The Differences:
While many of my adult readers have enjoyed my YA books just as much if not more than my adult novels, I do get adult readers now and then who are surprised, maybe even disgruntled, with the fact that my YA books are slightly different than my adult novels. And I try to gently remind them, that they’re supposed to be different.

First, my YA books are shorter, crisper, and less historically detailed. In fact, I’d almost go as far as saying that my YA are more fairy-tale world than true historicals. They contain enough detail to give a “flavor” of another place, but not too much to bog down younger readers.

Secondly, my YA books are more plot driven than character driven. I’ve included battle scenes as well as some of the seat-of-your pants danger that appeals to the modern teen reader. I plunge my characters into desperate, life-threatening situations which, in the era of books like The Hunger Games, is appealing to modern readers).

A third difference is in how I’m approaching the heroine and the romance. My YA heroines are a bit younger and so they are more of a coming of age story where the heroine must grapple with some “growing up” issues. I’ve also tried to keep the romance very sweet and tender (as opposed to my adult novels that while clean, are more passionate in nature).

The Similarities:
Whether my adult novels or YA, I simply want to tell a compelling story. I hope that I’ve been able to entertain and perhaps even inspire in both of my markets.

 

ADS- quote

What did you have the most fun with when you were writing the book?

Of course, since this is a series involving knights, I had to have those knights engaged in various battles.  So I had a lot of fun writing the sword-wielding, arrow-shooting, death-defying scenes. In addition, I always have fun figuring out how my heroine can help save the day (because while I like having the knight come to the rescue, I also like being able to have the heroine do some rescuing too!).

 

A Daring Sacrifice ends with one of the knights in mortal danger, a cliff hanger for the next book in the series. Can you tell us a little bit more about the third book?

For Love and Honor is the third book in the series and gives the final knight his happily-ever-after.  However, as you know from the cliff-hanger at the end of A Daring Sacrifice, he has to work extremely hard to gain his true love as well as save his life and those of the people he loves.

I had a lot of fun writing the heroine of the third book. She’s a little quirky and not quite as beautiful (aka more normal!) as the ladies in the first two books. She’s also hiding a secret, a “blemish” on her skin that could brand her as a witch if anyone ever sees it. During the Middle Ages, the time of the Inquisition and extreme religious intolerance, even the slightest mole, birth defect, or blemish could easily lead to accusations of witchcraft. The times were dangerous, and of course, I just love putting my characters right into the middle of the worst possible danger. Cue: evil cackle.

Thanks so much, Jody!  I love your stories and can’t wait to read For Love and Honor!!

 

In other exciting news, Jody is hosting a Giving Key Necklace Giveaway!

Giving Key Necklace Giveaway

Look what I found at Barnes & Noble!! Not only has Barnes & Noble done a fabulous job placing A DARING SACRIFICE in their Teen Section, but I’m told Wal-Mart has placed the book in stores too! In order to say THANKS (as well as get MORE inspirational teen fiction in both stores in the future!), let’s show our support!

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

Go to your Barnes & Noble or Wal-Mart (or any local bookstore!) and snap your picture with A Daring Sacrifice. (And of course buy it! Early Easter present! 🙂  )

If you take a picture of yourself with A Daring Sacrifice, post it on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and tag Jody Hedlund!  One random picture/reader will win a Giving Key Necklace with the word “Sacrifice” engraved on it! 

Contest ends March 31, 2016

 

Jody Hedlund bio pic

Jody Hedlund is a best-selling and award-winning author who loves fairy-tales and happily-ever-afters.  She makes her home in Midland, MI with her husband and five children. When she’s not writing another of her page-turning stories, you can usually find her sipping coffee, eating chocolate, and reading.

Connect with Jody:
Facebook | Twitter | Website | Pinterest | Instagram

Author Interview + Giveaway: Jody Hedlund

25 Jan

Jody Hedlund bio pic

Hello, dear readers!  I’m so excited to welcome Jody Hedlund here today!  She has graciously answered a few questions about her latest release Undaunted Hope and is offering a print copy for giveaway.  You can read my review of this captivating story here.  

Please enjoy the interview and enter the giveaway below!   

 

Undaunted Hope

Welcome, Jody!  How did you come up with the idea for Undaunted Hope?

For this third book in my Michigan lighthouse series, I wanted to pick a location that was different than the other books. The first two books, Love Unexpected and Hearts Made Whole, are set in the “Mitten” of Michigan. So to add variety to the series, I decided to place Undaunted Hope in the Upper Peninsula on Lake Superior.

In doing my research of Michigan lighthouses, I learned that there are lighthouses dotted all over the coast of Lake Superior since it was such a treacherous lake to traverse and an important place for steamers due to the rich natural resources that were available. As I studied the various lighthouses, I finally landed upon Eagle Harbor Lighthouse in the Keweenau Peninsula because not only was the area rich in resources, but it was rich in history and the makings of a really great story!

 

What special research did you do in writing Undaunted Hope?

As I wrote this third book in the Beacon’s of Hope Lighthouse Series, I had the wonderful privilege of visiting Eagle Harbor and the lighthouse that serves as the setting for this book. In fact, I was able to stay for a whole week in the assistant keeper’s cottage that now sits next to the lighthouse.

The large covered front porch of the assistant keeper’s house overlooked Eagle Harbor and Lake Superior, so it was a gorgeous view! Every morning I woke up to the sound of the crashing waves and every evening I watched the sunset. It was one of the most beautiful, peaceful places I’ve ever stayed.

Lake Superior

Not only did I get to do in-depth research on the lighthouse (and walk around inside it as many times as I wanted!), but I also was able to research the entire area taking lots of pictures of the lake, flowers, wildlife, and the numerous waterfalls throughout the peninsula. It’s a remote wilderness area of Michigan, sparsely populated, and cold! I visited at the end of June and brought short sleeve shirts. I had to wear sweatshirts almost every day instead.

 

michigan-map

This is now the sixth book that you’ve written with a Michigan setting. What draws you to write stories set in Michigan?

I’ve lived in central Michigan for the past sixteen years. All but one of my five children have been born in Michigan, and this is where I’ve raised my family. So Michigan definitely has a special place in my heart.

Not only has it been a wonderful place to raise a family, but it’s also a beautiful state. Michigan is a peninsula and is bordered by 4 of the 5 Great Lakes, giving it approximately 3,200 miles of shoreline which is the most of any state except Alaska. Michigan not only has lots of beaches and sand dunes and hiking trails and state parks, but it also is home to the most lighthouses.

Aside from the beauty of the state (which makes for very picturesque book settings!), Michigan has a rich history due to the lumber and mining era that attracted many settlers to the state, but also attracted plenty of colorful and dangerous characters as well.

 

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse (2)

What have you enjoyed most in writing this lighthouse series?

Over the past couple of years of writing this series, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to visit numerous lighthouses throughout the state. Not only have I attempted to visit the lighthouses that are used as settings for the books, but I’ve also been inspired to visit many others. Every time I do, I learn a little bit more about how lighthouses were operated and have come to realize that they’re all so unique.

During the past summer of 2015 I toured several lighthouses including: Tawas Point Lighthouse, St. Joseph Lighthouses, and Mackinac City Lighthouse.

Each time I climb a tower, reach the top, and gaze out at the spectacular view, I’m always amazed by the beauty. I never tire of the experience and can completely understand the fascination so many people have with lighthouses. I think I caught the “lighthouse bug” and will forever be visiting them!

 

Forever Safe

You have a fourth lighthouse book releasing in June of 2016. Can you tell us a little bit more about this story? Is it connected to your first three lighthouse books?

The fourth book is titled Forever Safe. Like the others, it can completely stand alone. There’s no need to read the others first to enjoy the story.

However, the main character in Forever Safe does make an appearance at the end of the third lighthouse book, Undaunted Hope. I won’t say who it is, so that I don’t spoil the surprise for those who haven’t read Undaunted Hope. But I hope that readers will be excited about this particular character getting a story in Forever Safe.

 

Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful interview and giveaway, Jody!  Do you have any parting words?

I love hearing from readers! Make sure you stop by one of these places and say hello!
I hang out on Facebook here: Author Jody Hedlund
I also love to chat on Twitter: @JodyHedlund
My home base is at my website: jodyhedlund.com
Find me on Instagram: instagram.com/jodyhedlund/
Come pin with me on Pinterest: pinterest.com/jodyhedlund/pins/

 

Giveaway graphic- Undaunted Hope

GIVEAWAY DETAILS – (US only)
One lucky reader will win a print copy of Undaunted Hope!

To enter the giveaway:
Comment about a lighthouse you have visited, and be sure to include your email address in your comment. The giveaway ends Saturday, January 30 at 11:59 p.m. CST. The winner will be drawn and announced on January 31.

To earn additional entries:
Follow this blog, Buzzing About Books, and/or share the giveaway via social media. Be sure to let me know what you’ve done to earn additional entries!

Jody said she caught the “lighthouse bug” Have you visited a lighthouse? Do you have a favorite or one in particular you would love to visit?

Interview + GIVEAWAY: Catherine West | Bridge of Faith

29 Apr

Catherine West copy (2)Welcome to Buzzing About Books, Cathy!  Please share a little about yourself.

Thanks for having me! Hmm, let’s see. Well, I guess the first fun fact about me is that I live on an island. Bermuda is a tiny island in the middle of the Atlantic, about 700 miles off the coast of South Carolina. I was born and raised here, and I absolutely can’t imagine living anywhere else. I’m married to the love of my life, and we’ve raised two amazing children together. Our daughter and her husband live in Bermuda, and our son is about to graduate from Berklee College of Music in Boston! When I’m not writing, I’m spending time in the garden, going for walks, reading and swimming.

 

When did you decide to pursue writing and eventually publication?

I’ve always loved to write. I guess I got serious about it maybe 20 years ago, yes it’s been that long!! I’ve had a few ups and downs along the way, but I think I’ve finally figured out that this is really the path I’m meant to be on.

 

What is your writing process like?  Do you write daily?  Are you a plotter or a pantster?

When I am working on a book, yes, I try to write daily. If I can get four or five hours in, that’s a good day. It really depends on outside factors. If the story is going well, then it’s a breeze and I can’t wait to get to the computer. If I’m stuck, then I kind of have to make myself write. LOL. But usually it’s more fun than anything. I am NOT a plotter. I kind of feel like if I was, this would be easier. I’ve tried. I’ve read every book on plotting and I still don’t enjoy it. It doesn’t come naturally at all. So I’ve accepted that, and I muddle my way through my books and fix it all at the end.  🙂

 

Where do you do most of your writing?  Please describe your writing space or share a picture.   

On the couch. LOL! Actually I do have a lovely office, and once I get seriously into my next book, I’ll be in there a lot. But this was my writing space over the winter – 

 

Cathy West's writing space

 

What is your favorite part of the writing process?  Least favorite?

I’m not a fan of editing, so I suppose that’s my least favorite! My favorite part is really watching the story come together. While I always have a vague idea of how it’s all going to turn out, I never really know how we’ll get there until it’s down on the page, and sometimes I’m totally taken by surprise. I love it when that happens! I don’t understand it, but I love it.  🙂

 

How much of yourself do you see in your characters? 

Oh, I’m sure there is probably a little of me in all of them. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not! LOL.

 

Please tell us about your novel, Bridge of Faith.

Bridge of Faith 3-D

 

Two lives taken down different roads – one enduring love – one shot at starting over.
 If only they believed in second chances.

 

Julia Connelly is finally free from twelve long years in an abusive relationship. Now able to live the life she’s longed for, Julia takes her two children back home to Vermont, hoping for peace and healing. The last person she expects to see is the man she eloped with at eighteen—who then abandoned her two months into their marriage, with little explanation.

When an assignment in the Middle East ends in tragedy, popular news correspondent, Reid Wallace, returns to his hometown seeking answers and peace of mind.

Confronting his past was not in the plan.

Now he’s asking different questions. Like why the only woman he’s ever really loved still mesmerizes him. Why the haunted expression she wears reaches right into his soul.

And why her twelve year-old son looks just like him.

They say you can’t go home again. Sometimes you don’t have a choice.

 

What inspired this complex story?

Hmm. Nothing in particular comes to mind. I’ve always liked the idea of lost love and second chances. And I love Vermont, so the setting clicked for me. I think it’s important to write about real issues like spousal abuse, abandonment, divorce, all the real stuff of life, so when I figured out Julia’s story, I knew it would be something I had to write.

 

Did you encounter any surprises while you were writing Bridge of Faith? 

Not specifically. I did love watching Julia and Reid’s romance unfold. And some of her one liners came out of nowhere. Because I’m not sarcastic like that. At. All.  🙂  Actually, the real surprise is how people are relating to it now that it’s published. That’s the awesome thing about writing. You never quite know you’ve hit it until it’s out there. And I’ve been really pleased with the reception the book is getting so far.

 

Do you have a favorite scene you would like to share?

Well, okay.  🙂  I love this one. Reid and Julia are slowly finding a way to talk to each other without yelling … sorta.

“Does this mean you forgive me?”

“Not in the least.” The dogs rounded the corner and she bent over to pat them. They soon raced off and she set her gaze on him once more. “I’m tolerating your presence for Mark’s sake.”

Okay, then. Reid contemplated counting to a hundred before speaking again. “Oh, I almost forgot.” He slapped a palm to his forehead and fished in the pocket of his jeans. “I have something for you.”

“For me?” Curiosity crept into her eyes.

Reid held out the new cell phone he’d purchased yesterday. “In case some moron on a motorbike tries to sideswipe you again.”

“Reid.” A blush colored her cheeks, but the smile he hoped for didn’t show. “I really don’t need that. And I don’t have the extra cash right now.”

He tipped his head, ready for the fight. “It’s already bought and paid for and the monthly charges are coming to me, so you can just say thank you.”

“Reid.” And there it was.

“Oh, wait … was that …” He staggered back, hand over his heart. “Was that an actual smile?”

“Shush.” She took the cell phone from his hand like it would blow up any second. “It looks complicated.”

“It’s pretty simple, actually.” He stood beside her and flicked a finger over the screen. “I’ve already programmed a few numbers. Cade’s, Deb’s, and there I am.”

“There you are.”

He’d used an old stock photo from the network, the one all the ladies apparently went nuts over. Looked pretty darn good too, if he did say so himself.

“This was taken a few years ago, huh?”

Ouch. Reid ran his tongue across his bottom lip and decided not to answer that.

“So how do I call you? If I need to. Which I probably won’t.”

“Just punch the button.” Reid demonstrated, and the other cell in his pocket began to ring. “See? Easy.”

“Okay.” Julia studied the phone, glanced upward, one eyebrow raised in question. “So whenever I want to call you, I just punch you in the face.”

“Punch away. But try not to look so ecstatic about it.”

 

What do you hope readers will take away from this story?

That there is always hope. And through God’s grace, forgiveness is possible, even when we don’t want to give it.

 

What will you be working on next?

I have a few things going on. I’m concentrating on marketing, but I’ve also got some publishing news on the horizon which is super exciting, and that’s going to be keeping me very busy, I’m sure!

 

Is there anything else you would like to share? 

Just that, with God, ALL things are possible. Really. 

 

Bio:

INSPY Award-winning author Catherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two grown children. Catherine’s latest novel, Bridge of Faith, is now available on Amazon.

Connect with Catherine:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Google + | Amazon

 

You are such a delight, Cathy!  I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions and share a Kindle copy of Bridge of Faith with one of my readers!!

Click here to read my review of Bridge of Faith.

Giveaway- Bridge of Faith.jpg

Enter to win a Kindle copy of Bridge of Faith by leaving a comment below. 

This giveaway ends Wednesday, May 6 at 11:59 p.m. CDT.  The winner will be drawn and announced on Thursday, May 7.  Good luck!!

To earn additional entries, you may do the following:

◦Follow my blog, Buzzing About Books
◦Share this giveaway through Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or email

Be sure and leave a comment letting me know what you have done to earn additional entries.

 

Interview: Melissa Tagg | From the Start

25 Apr

I adore Melissa Tagg’s books and am so excited to welcome her to Buzzing About Books! 

Tagg2

Welcome, Melissa!  Please share a little about yourself.

Thanks for having me, Britney! Well, I’m a former reporter turned author and grant-writer and communications coordinator and avid watcher of YouTube videos. I love classic movies, Gilmore Girls and the band NEEDTOBREATHE, and I am convinced I have the coolest family in the entire world.  Oh, and I live in Iowa. It’s happy here.

 

Just for fun, which do you prefer:

Cake or Pie? Does ice cream cake count? ‘Cause if so, cake all the way.

Hotel or Campground? While I am not opposed to the occasional campout, generally I prefer hotels.

Physical book or E-book? I definitely read both, but there’s something about physical books…

Salty or Sweet? I love it all, but probably sweet…no salty…no totally depends on my mood.

Dog or Cat? This one’s easy…dogs all the way. Cats kinda creep me out.

Television or Movies? Generally movies—classic movies. But I have been known to obsess over a few TV shows… 

Iowa graphicCity or Country?

I’m an Iowa girl, so I should probably say country. Actually my favorite is small-ish towns that are located super close to big cities. Best of both worlds.

 

Fly or Drive? Drive! I’m thankful to be able to get places quickly by flying when I need to, but I loooove road trips.

Homemade or Take-out? If someone else is making it, homemade.

Morning Bird or Night Owl? Both! Seriously. Originally I was a total night owl, but I’ve sorta trained myself to become a morning person in the past few years. Now I love early mornings.

When did you decide to pursue writing and eventually publication?

I got serious about writing in 2009 when I attended my first My Book Therapy retreat. Hands-down the best thing I ever did for my writing! Susan May Warren is an amazing writer and a master storycrafter so learning from her through MBT was amazing. In 2010 I attended my first big writing conference and started pursuing publication. And then all the doors flung open in 2012.

What is your writing process like?  Do you write daily?  Are you a plotter or a pantster?

How much I write and when really just depends on the time of year and when my deadlines. I do generally write at least something every day—but it’s not always fiction. Sometimes it’s a blog or an article. When I’m deep in deadline mode, I tend to get up early to write before work and then also squeeze in a couple hours in the evening. I do a LOT of Saturday writing.

But my favorite is when I can set a long weekend aside for writing marathons…that really works well for me.

I’m right in between plotter and pantser. I always come up with the main plot pieces and spend a lot of time getting to know my characters before diving into the book. And then usually I plot about a third of the book at a time…but I’ve found that if I try to get too detailed in my plotting, I hem myself in and end up frustrated later when the characters suddenly do what I didn’t expect. So I’m learning to be much more flexible with my stories while holding on to those core story elements.

Where do you do most of your writing? 

I write all over my place, actually! I do have a room I use just for writing and when I’m in a serious spurt, I write there. But I also love to sit in bed and write…or at my kitchen table…or on my comfy couch. I’ll camp out at coffee shops sometimes.

But my absolute favorite place to write is my mom and dad’s sunroom. They live about an hour away from me and they’re so gracious to open their home to me whenever I need a writing campout.

What is your favorite part of the writing process?  Least favorite?

My very favorite…finishing the book. LOL! I love that “whoa, it’s done” moment. My favorite part of writing itself is dialogue. I looooove writing character dialogue. And of course, I adore hearing from readers’ once the book is out there in the world.

Least favorite is probably the blank page…that can be scary sometimes. Too, deadlines can feel pressuring. Actually probably the hardest thing I deal with writing-wise is the temptation to compare myself to everyone else or constantly worry I’m not good enough. That’s something I’m guessing many writers have to battle throughout their careers.

How much of yourself do you see in your characters? 

Sometimes much more than I’d like! In my first two books, my main characters definitely had pieces of me in them. In this third one, Kate Walker is so, so very much like me. And that’s probably why a) the story felt so hard to write and b) I was much more nervous about sending it out into the world.

I actually wrote a blog post just recently about all the ways Kate Walker is like me.. http://www.melissatagg.com/from-the-start/five-times-kate-walker-is-me

Please tell us about your latest novel, From the Start.

From the Start is about a jaded scriptwriter of romantic movies and an ex NFL quarterback. They both end up in Iowa working on a writing project together…and of course, there are sparks.  🙂  It takes place in a fun little made-up town with a train depot, a cool historic bank building that’s been turned into a restaurant, a river running right through the middle of town. It’s hugely real in my mind. LOL!

Like my other books, it’s a romantic comedy, but I think it delves a little deeper as it deals with issues of Colton’s painful past, foster care, cancer and calling.

What inspired this heartfelt romance?

Truthfully, on this one I honestly don’t know. In my first couple books, I can really pinpoint the thing that first sparked the story in my mind, but this one just seemed to evolve in a really disjointed way, to be honest! I do know I loved the idea of writing about a romance writer who didn’t believe in romance.  🙂  And I wanted Colton’s career to be something big and lofty and in-the-spotlight.

Other than that, I think the issues I was wrestling with personally last year really inspired and influenced the story. And my love for classic movies also found a way in. 

Do you have a favorite scene you would like to share?

I have several favorite scenes! But definitely one of my very favorite scenes is early in the book when Kate and Colton first meet…in Kate’s childhood bedroom. And I’ll leave it at that.

What do you hope readers will take away from this story?

In From the Start, both Kate and Colton have a very clear picture in their heads of what their lives should look like. And every decision they make in the first half of the book is an effort to make those pictures in their heads a reality. But they both learn, slooowly and at times not-so-smoothly, that God might be weaving together a completely different picture.

I think that’s a theme we can all connect with…because I have a feeling no matter how wonderful our lives may look on the outside, we probably all have that pesky unfulfilled dream or that nagging voice whispering that we’re missing out or a failure we can’t seem to let go of. And so we push back and try to make our dream come true on our own or do ALL the things so we couldn’t possibly miss out or strive and strive for success to cover up that one failure…we try to paint our own pictures and we get frustrated when they turn out smudged and imperfect. And all the while, God is there, saying “Give me the paintbrush, Melissa. Give me the paintbrush and you’ll see what a beautiful picture I can paint with your life.”

Which is my very roundabout way of saying I hope readers take away that sense or understanding that God is at work…that we aren’t living on our own. There’s such peace and confidence in that truth.

What will you be working on next?

I’m just beginning rewrites on my fourth book—woohoo! It’s called Like Never Before and it’s the second full-length novel in the Walker Family series. It features political speechwriter Logan Walker and newspaper editor Amelia Bentley, both of whom appeared in From the Start.

Is there anything else you would like to share? 

Oh I should mention: If people would like to get a taste of the new series before committing to a full novel, they can check out my free novella, Three Little Words. It takes place in the same town as the whole series and you’ll get an early peek into the Walker family.

Where can readers connect with you?

Pretty much anywhere and everywhere online.  🙂  But here are my favorite hangouts:

Website: http://www.melissatagg.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorMelissaTagg
Instagram: melissatagg
Twitter: @Melissa_Tagg

Thanks so much, Britney!

  

Thank you so much, Melissa, for answering my questions!  It’s a pleasure to learn more about you and your writing process!! 

 

From the Start

About the book:

Kate Walker used to believe in true love and happily ever after. While her own love life may have left her brokenhearted, it hasn’t kept her from churning out made-for-TV romance movie screenplays…until a major career slump and a longing to do something meaningful send her running back to her hometown of Maple Valley.

Permanently sidelined by an injury, former NFL quarterback Colton Greene is temporarily hiding out in a friend’s hometown to avoid the media and the reminders of all he’s lost. Maple Valley seems like the perfect place to learn how to adjust to normal life. The only trouble is he’s never really done normal before.

While Kate plays things safe and Colton is all about big risks and grand gestures, they both get what it’s like to desperately need direction in life. An unexpected project gives them both a chance to jumpstart their new lives, but old wounds and new dreams are hard to ignore. Starting over wasn’t part of the plan, but could it be the best thing that’s ever happened to them?

Purchase a copy:
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Christianbook | DeeperShopping

From the Start graphic

Read my review of From the Start:
https://buzzingaboutbooks.com/2015/04/09/review-from-the-start/

Interview: Amber Stokes | Audiobook Spotlight

21 Apr

How-a-Star-Falls-audio-cover-sm2

Unabridged audiobook narrated by Patrick Wilson Mahaney
1 hour and 55 minutes

Audiobook Purchase Links:
 Less than $7!
(You can listen to a sample on the following sites, as well.)
Amazon | Audible | iTunes

How does a star fall?
Quickly. Completely. Unexpectedly.

Derrick Knolane escapes to Trinidad Head most evenings, avoiding his apartment and planning for the day he’ll break free of Humboldt County. Working in a music store might be fine for a while, but it’s far from the goal he had in mind when he got his college degree. Not to mention the fact that his roommate is a jerk and his family won’t stop trying to run his life.

Then Brielle falls into his world.

She claims to be a star. Not from Hollywood, but from heaven. He thinks she’s crazy. Certainly delusional. Yet, he can’t just leave her alone on the cliffs. So he takes her home.

And his whole world falls apart.

A heartfelt and fanciful contemporary romance novella, How a Star Falls explores the uncertain season of new adulthood and shows that sometimes the worst inconveniences make for the best miracles of all.

Add the audiobook version to your Goodreads shelf.

Read my review of How a Star Falls

 

Thank you, Amber, for graciously answering a few of my questions!

1.  How does a book become an audiobook?  Please share a bit about the audio process.

I’m sure there are many different ways to go about it, but I decided to use ACX.com, which is connected with Amazon. It’s probably only because of the way they simplify the process and provide great distribution outlets that I even attempted to get How a Star Falls published as an audiobook.

The process begins by creating a profile for your book—offering a sort of “pitch,” if you will, to make your book an appealing project for narrators (or “producers,” as they’re referred to on the site). You also specify what sort of producer you’re looking for and what the tone/genre/etc. of the story is.

Once you’ve completed your book’s profile, the next step is to search for a producer. You can either wait for the producers to come to you and offer an audition, or you can seek out a producer and ask them to audition for you. I ended up seeking out a producer. (I’ll explain that a bit more in my response to the next question.)

The extent of the give and take following the producer selection likely depends on how much the author wants to be involved and how much the producer is willing to edit. The producer is required to send you a sample of the first 15 minutes, which must be approved before they can upload the rest of the audiobook.

For Patrick Mahaney (my producer) and I, there was some back and forth as I listened for sections that might have been missed and offered feedback on the intention/tone/voice of certain scenes and lines. But I wanted to give Patrick leeway in interpreting Derrick’s voice as only a guy can, and I hope I wasn’t *too* nitpicky. 🙂

After the producer uploads the final audio files to the site (and once a cover is uploaded by the author, as well), the rest is up to ACX and their team. They’re very particular about the quality of the sound, which is great. There was a bit of a delay on our end because of that need to re-upload the files once, but then once the files are approved, it’s a pretty smooth process to seeing the audiobook available on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes.

That might be way more than you cared to know, but there you go!

2.  Did you choose your narrator?  If so, what criteria did you use? 

I confess that I’m not a super patient person, especially when it comes to starting a new project! I didn’t want to wait for a producer/narrator to come and find my book. (Who knows how long that would take, and if there would be any takers? At least, that’s how I felt.) So I searched ACX’s site for producers who were…

• Willing to do a royalty share—meaning that there would be no upfront payment, but instead we would split the net royalties down the middle.
• Male, as most of How a Star Falls is told from the hero’s POV.
• Able to narrate in the tone/genre of my story. (Patrick described his voice as “warm, mellow, high.”)

ACX offers the following filters for narrowing down a list of appropriate producers: Genre, Gender, Language, Accent, Voice Age, Vocal Style, Payments, Location, and Audible Approved. I believe I found Patrick by searching for an English-speaking, young-adult male producer who could work with romance books and was willing to split the royalties. Once I heard the samples of his voice (even though they weren’t in the exact genres I would choose), I could just imagine him conveying Derrick’s voice.

Being impulsive like I am, I offered him the project right out the gate. I only later realized it probably would have been wisest to ask for an audition first (and Patrick even mentioned that, haha), but hey, it worked out all right in the end. 🙂

3.  What was it like to hear your characters (outside your head) for the very first time?

Very cool—and nerve-racking, to be honest! It was so interesting to hear a guy bringing Derrick to life. But I confess I got super nervous before listening to certain scenes, wondering how Patrick would convey them and what on earth he thought of my writing. 🙂 But I’m really pleased with how it all came together and what the response has been so far to Patrick’s interpretation of Derrick. And now it’s hard to look back on parts of the written story without hearing Patrick’s voice, LOL.

4.  Do you plan to make your earlier books available in audio format?

That’s a great question! I’m not entirely sure. On the one hand, I had a lot of fun with this project, and I think I’d enjoy seeing another one of my books become an audiobook. But I’ve been thinking more along the lines of working with future novellas. It’s kind of neat having shorter audiobooks, and it seems like it would be a lot easier to work with stories where there’s only one POV for most of the book.

The problem with my first two historical novels is that, although they’re relatively short, there are several POVs in each. Bleeding Heart has five different POVs—four guys and one girl. So would I go with a male narrator, or a female narrator? (Not to mention one of my characters’ interesting accent…)

The book I would consider my gateway to appreciating the world of audiobooks is Legend by Marie Lu, a young-adult dystopian novel. That audiobook alternated between a male and female narrator, and I loved it. I’m just not sure if that’s even an option for my projects, and how complicated that might become, besides.

But all that to say, I think I’d enjoy providing audiobook versions for more of my books. We’ll just see whether that would likely entail working with previous releases or waiting to work with future releases. 🙂

5.  What can we look forward to next from you?

The answer to this question is a little up in the air at the moment. I was hoping to release my next novella this month (Where Trains Collide), but it looks like that release date will be pushed back. I’m guessing it will still be one of my next releases within the year, Lord willing—just a bit further down the road than I had originally planned.

I also plan to publish the third book in “The Heart’s Spring” series (Morning Glory) at some point, but I’ve (hopefully) learned my lesson and won’t mention any release dates just yet! I guess I just want readers to know I haven’t forgotten about it. 🙂

As for other projects, I’d like to write more short stories and novelettes/novellas. For now, I enjoy working with the shorter length, and it feels more doable to balance that writing with my job and this season of my life. We’ll see how it goes!

Thank you so much for hosting me and giving me the chance to share about this fun new project with your readers!

 

Amber Stokes - Star Gazer PicAmber Stokes works as a content writer (marketing services) for a Christian publisher. On the side, she self-publishes inspirational fiction depicting the seasons of life and love. Her passion for books compelled her to earn a bachelor’s degree in English and to run her own freelance editing and publicity business for over a year. Happily, this new chapter of her career takes place in the Pacific Northwest—a part of the world she’s always considered home. Learn more about Amber’s books at www.SeasonsofaStory.blogspot.com.

Social Media Links:

Twitter | Blog | Website | Pinterest | Goodreads | Google +

Narrator Bio:
P
atrick Mahaney is a comedian, writer, and performer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter.

Interview: Debbie Lynne Costello + GIVEAWAY

30 Mar

Debbie Lynne- Author pageWelcome to Buzzing About Books, Debbie Lynne!  Please share a little about yourself.

I live in upstate South Carolina with my very own hero who I have been married to for almost 35 years. Wow! I can’t believe that number because I feel like I should only be 35. I must have been a child bride.  We have four children and a daughter-in-law who we love dearly, along with 2 awesome grandchildren. I have raised Shelties for almost 20 years. We own 2 Arabian horses and 2 Tennessee Walkers, a miniature donkey, German Shepherd, and two Shelties. Riding horses is a time when hubby and I get to spend some fun time together. We usually get about 3 rides in a week. I love the three R’s. Reading, Writing, and Riding.

Debbie Lynne Collage

When did you decide to pursue writing and eventually publication?

I thought to pursue writing when I went to college for journalism. But that wasn’t in God’s plan. I married my high school sweetheart who was in the Air Force and then 15 months later we started our family. Then about 8 years ago, my kids were grown or teenagers and I decided to start my career.

What is your writing process like?  Do you write daily?  Are you a plotter or a pantster?

Honestly, my writing schedule used to be clockwork but then life happened with sick parents, deaths, grandchildren, and other things and I’ve had to rearrange my priorities. I am a pantster! Although, I am trying to be better about doing some plotting. My plotting usually comes half way through my story.

What is your favorite part of the writing process?  Least favorite?

My favorite part is writing the last chapters! They are so much fun. My least favorite, Hmmmm, can I call marketing part of the writing process?  LOL!

DebbieCostello_SwordOfForgiveness_800px

Please tell us about your debut novel, Sword of Forgiveness.

It is set in late 14th century England. A young woman who is relieved that her cruel father has died has no desire to marry again and get treated as chattel. She wants to live out her days as a single woman and care for the people of her father’s castle. When she receives a note from the king she realizes her dream of remaining single is crumbling before her. But to make matters worse when she meets her husband-to-be he accuses her and her household of killing his parents. Brithwin must prove her innocence or she just may face a fate worse than death.

What inspired this medieval romance?

Actually it was my husband who said to me, “You should write a book.”  That inspired me.

In researching this early time period, what was one of the most interesting things you discovered? 

Debbie Lynne- 21797I think one of the things I never expected was that some castles had water closets. I never thought of medieval time period as being advanced enough to have indoor plumbing. Okay, plumbing might be a little far-fetched but still…

Did you encounter any surprises while you were writing Sword of Forgiveness?

Writing characters is a funny thing. Maybe that’s why they are called characters, because they are always acting out! I will have a plan for my character and when I start writing it he just won’t do what he is supposed to do. He wants to do something else. It’s like these people we create become alive in our heads! I know! Scary. Huh?

Do you have a favorite scene you would like to share?

One of my favorite scenes is shortly after Royce and Brithwin meet and they very much at odds with each other. Brithwin has her bath water drawn and she goes upstairs to discover that Royce has stolen her bath.

Sword of Forgiveness is such a complex story with so many beautiful threads.  Will you tell us a bit about the spiritual thread in the story?

The spiritual thread is Forgiveness. Sword of Forgiveness has 3 different types of forgiveness in it. It deals with forgiving others who have hurt you, forgiving yourself for things you have done in your past, and accepting God’s forgiveness.

What do you hope readers will take away from this story?

I think every person at some point in their life has struggled with some type of forgiveness. My hope is that somehow Sword of Forgiveness will touch people’s lives that are struggling with some type of forgiveness.

What will you be working on next?

I have 2 things on the horizon. I have a 19th century story set in Charleston, South Carolina with Royce and Brithwin’s many times great-grandson as the hero. Royce and Brithwin’s son ends up marrying a lass who lives on the borderlands. He settles in Scotland with his wife. Duncan is a direct descendant from him. That story should be out in 3 to 4 months. I’m also writing the sequel to Sword of Forgiveness. The working title right now is Sword of Truth/Trust/Faith. I’m not quite sure.

Thank you so much, Debbie Lynne!  Where can readers connect with you?

https://www.facebook.com/debbielynnecostello
https://twitter.com/DebiLynCostello
https://www.pinterest.com/debbielynne1/
http://www.debbielynnecostello.com
http://www.theswordandspirit.blogspot.com
http://www.hhhistory.com

 

Sword of Forgiveness

Debbie Lynne has graciously offered to give away one copy of Sword of Forgiveness!  Print or Kindle copy available to a winner in the continental US.  If an international winner is drawn, a Kindle copy will be given.

To enter, ask Debbie Lynne a question in the comments below AND let her know which title you would like to see on Book 2. Any of them could fit the theme.

Sword of Truth
Sword of Trust
Sword of Faith 

To earn additional entries, you may do the following:
◦ Follow this blog, Buzzing About Books, or let me know if you are already a follower
◦ Share this giveaway through Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or email

Be sure to include your email address and let me know what you have done to earn additional entries!