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Welcome To SORMAG's Blog

Monday, November 30, 2009

FEATURED AUTHOR: Rhonda McKnight


EDITOR NOTE: It is always a pleasure to introduce you to one of my friends. When she announced she sold I rejoiced with her. Receiving a review copy of her book brought tears to my eyes. Reading it brought more tears. Reading her facebook posts about waiting on her book to arrive on her doorstep brought on more tears. I guess you can say I'm happy to see her dream come true.

The road to publication is hard some days but when you experience the first sale with a friend you know the reward of a published book is worth it.

I’m excited to be able to introduce you to fantastic new writer that I hope will be added to your must read list. Please meet my friend and new Christian Fiction author, Rhonda McKnight.

Rhonda McKnight
is the owner of Legacy Editing, a free-lance editing service for fiction writers and Urban Christian Fiction Today http://www.urbanchristianfictiontoday.com/
, a popular Internet site that highlights African-American Christian fiction. She’s the vice-president of Faith Based Fiction Writers of Atlanta.

When she’s not editing projects, teaching writing workshops or penning her next novel, she spends time with her family. Originally from a small, coastal town in New Jersey, she’s called Atlanta, Georgia home for twelve years. More information about the author can be found at http://www.rhondamcknight.net/

What would you like readers to take away from your book?

Secrets and Lies is a story about faith, forgiveness and reconciliation. I believe it will resonate differently with each individual, and honestly, I’d like readers to take the message God has for them. But if I had to name one thing, I'd say I’d like my readers to understand that forgiveness is a decision. Once a person decides that peace is more important than bitterness and pain, they will have a fuller, more complete life.

Why did you choose to write this book?

The story chose me. I tried not to write this book, because at the time there were elements of the story that were very painful for me personally, but I heard God and my writing partner, author Sherri Lewis, telling me to finish it.

What did you learn while writing this book?

Other than how to write a book. (LOL). I learned that this (writing) is what I was really born to do. (That is other than be a mother).

What was your favorite scene/chapter from the book?

There are so many, and I’d have to give the story away to tell them, but there’s a funeral scene that plays in my mind like a clip from a movie. It almost didn’t make it in the book. I’m glad it did.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

How much time it actually takes to write a book, and how hard we have to concentrate to do it. That interruptions and phone calls or even “Hon, where’s my red tie?” are intrusions that mess up our flow.

How did it feel to finally see your first book in print?

I won’t hold my book until November 24th when I run in the bookstore and purchase it. I’ll cry for sure. I mean cry and snot. I cried when my advance review copies came. I cried when I received my promo material. I cried when I read my first review. I’m a crybaby.

How many books did you write before selling?

I sold the first book I finished.

What is one thing being a writer taught you about God?

That HE really cares about my gift. HE cares about my stories and all this stuff I have inside of me that wants to get out, because HE shows up in my stories and really delivers a punch.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

I’m not a morning anything.

What is the best lesson you have learned from another writer?

My mentor, Victoria Christopher Murray taught me that even though we write Christian fiction that we must never forget we’re entertainers. Entertain your reader by digging deep for the creativity.

What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?

Well I’m working on my third book as I write this, so I’m a newbie, but I had unexpected surgery last summer right before I was due to turn in my second novel. It was very difficult to make up for the lost time and meet my deadline.

What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry? The worst?

The best advice I received was to begin to build my brand and my readership early. I can’t say that I’ve received any bad advice; if I have I don’t know it yet. (LOL)

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Do study the craft of writing. Story is king, but executing that story with excellence is a skill that’s honed. Just like someone may be gifted to play the piano, they won’t play in an orchestra until they learn how to read music. Don’t chase trends or copy someone else’s style. Write your story. Someone out there is waiting for it.

I borrowed this question from Author Carleen Brice, What is your author fantasy?

Hah, hah, hah – I’m pretty simple. Right now it’d be a dream to have my books converted to audio books. I have several family members and Facebook friends who don’t read well (for various reasons) and have told me they’d like to listen to my book. I would love to reach more people by being in audio.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

Watch 24. A lot of people think it’s a “dude” show. I haven’t missed an episode in seven seasons. Once when my power was out I drove to Wal-mart and watched it in the television section. Okay, so I’m a little obsessed with Jack Bauer. Surprise!

Five questions about books:

One book that you have read more than once.

You’re Blues Ain’t Like Mine by the late BeBe Moore Campbell, and it may be the only book I’ve read more than once.

One book you would want on a desert island.

You know it’s funny, because I ask people this question on my blog a few times a month and I always wonder what that book would be for me. So do I have an answer? Not really – maybe Brothers and Sisters by the late BeBe Moore Campbell. See a pattern here. I am a fan of her work. She is surely missed.

One book that made you laugh.

The List by Sherri Lewis, hilarious.

One book that made you cry.

Keeping Misery Company by Michelle Larks – I cried and cried at the end.

One book you wish you'd written.

The Purpose Driven Life by Russ Warren – 22 million sold. Yep, that would be the book I wish I’d written.

Our theme for this month is Time Management. Do you have any tips on making time for writing?

Yeah, and so does Nike – Just Do It. Honestly, schedule the time in otherwise life will steal it. Be realistic. If you work full-time and have a family you can’t expect to sit down and write 4 hours a day, unless you plan to neglect the people you love. Commit to short chunks of time. Your lunch break, an hour on Saturday or Sunday morning before the family wakes up, an hour on Friday night after the kids are in bed. Carve it out for you and slowly but surely the manuscript will come together.

Oprah has--as one of her magazine columns--a section where she talks about what she knows for sure. What do you know for sure?

I know that God is sovereign.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

Sure, An Inconvenient Friend comes out August 1, 2010. Samaria Jacobs, one of the minor characters from Secrets and Lies gets her own book. It’s a true stand alone story. I bring nothing of Secrets and Lies to this book except her “lovely” personality. Here’s an unofficial synopsis:

Samaria Jacobs doesn’t know Jesus, yet. She’s still the same manipulative, devious, man stealer we met in Secrets and Lies. Her creed in life: If at first you don’t succeed, try…try…again. She’s got her hooks in someone else’s husband, but this time her plan to steal him involves secretly befriending his wife. Will she get the man or destroy herself and everyone else in the process?

How can readers get in contact with you?

The best way to reach me is by email at rhonda@rhondamcknight.net . I love having people stop by my website and sign my guestbook www.rhondamcknight.net and I am a total and complete Facebook addict. You can catch me every day that the sun rises at www.facebook.com/rhondamcknight

Secrets and Lies

Faith Morgan is struggling with her faith. Years of neglect leave her doubting that God will ever fix her marriage. When a coworker accuses her husband, Jonah, of the unthinkable, Faith begins to wonder if she really knows him at all, and if it’s truly in God’s will for them to stay married.


Pediatric cardiologist Jonah Morgan is obsessed with one thing: his work. A childhood incident cemented his desire to heal children at any cost, even his family, but now he finds himself at a crossroads in his life. Will he continue to allow the past to haunt him, or find healing and peace in a God he shut out long ago?

Friday, November 27, 2009

FEATURED AUTHOR: Cynthia Banks


Cynthia Banks is the owner and director of The Little Teapot Daycare Center, founded in Fort Worth, Texas in 1993; and is President of Banks Entertainment, LLC a Concert, Tour Booking and Management Company. She is also an Accreditation Validator for the National Association of Family Childcare and a board member of Agape, Kids, an organization that supports the needs and concerns of children of battered women. One of the most rewarding organizations that Cynthia has the privilege of being a part of is the Stop Aids Leadership Project. S.S.A.L.P. was conceived out of the concern for the growing number of AIDS/HIV infected African Americans in the community. Cynthia hosts and participates in events and HIV/AIDS testing sites throughout Texas to encourage the public to “Know Your Status”.

Cynthia is also the author of Prayers of the Innocent, a true story of fraud and exploitation. The crimes occurred from the late 1990s through 2003, at historically black colleges in the South. The story follows a young college student who unwittingly is caught-up in bank fraud that leads to racketeering, sexual exploitation and theft. Prayers of the Innocent is a story of fear, compassion and a need to protect. Banks is currently working on her third book, Broken Trust, another true story of corruption in a county governmental office in Florida. The story follows Charles, one of Miami-Dade County Water and Sewer Department’s most trusted employees for over sixteen years. Unbeknownst to the company, Charles found a way to embezzle over 4 million dollars over a 3 year span. Broken Trust is a story that proves that things and people are not always as they seem.

Public speaking is no stranger to Cynthia Banks. She has spoken at the United Negro College Fund conference, has been interviewed by several radio stations, including The Bob Gorley Show in Los Angeles. She has had several book signings in Public Libraries, schools and colleges, churches and expos, including Book Expo America in New York. Banks has also appeared on CCTV Channel 31 in Fort Worth, Texas and WCTV in Tallahassee, Florida.

What would you like readers to take away from your book?

That there is hope for anyone. If you trust and believe in God, He will send you the people and the resources you need to make it through any situation.

Why did you choose to write this book?

This was a powerful story of victory. A story of a woman who lived 27 years with alcoholism, went through heartache, pain, trauma and tragedy, came out HIV negative and lived to tell about it. Her story had to be told.

What did you learn while writing this book?

That there is always someone out there worse off than I am. When I even think about complaining about how bad “it” is, I need to remember Priscilla Gibson and how bad it could get.

What was your favorite scene/chapter from the book?

Chapter 21 - When Priscilla and her boyfriend showed up at her dead husband’s funeral late and drunk. I could just imagine the scene and visualize how people were acting towards her when she walked in.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

That, too much is given, much is required. You have to burn the midnight oil and the candle at both ends to have a successful product.

What is the best lesson you have learned from another writer?

If you are a non-fictional writer, get your legal stuff out the way first, so all you have to do is concentrate on writing the book.

What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?

That people will “hate” on you no matter what.

What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry?

That self-publishing is the way to go.

The worst?

“Trust me” we can make it happen for you! Yeah right!!!!!!!!

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

DO, write about something you love and can relate to – your passion for it will be released.


DON’T, write about something you will feel ashamed and embarrassed about later – like when the Pastor reads it.

I borrowed this question from Author Carleene Brice, What is your author fantasy?

To not write because I have to (for money), but because I want to, because I really love it. OR

To be stuck in the house, during a snow storm with the roads closed for weeks with Blair Underwood working on a hot new romance book – I mean Christian book.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

Dress up like Foxy Brown at Halloween, like a turkey at Thanksgiving and like an elf at Christmas. (I also own a daycare center)

Five questions about books:

One book that you have read more than once.

Prayers of the Innocent

One book you would want on a desert island.

A MAPSCO - The book with the directions that tells me how to get back to Fort Worth, Texas.

One book that made you laugh.

Romance and the Stone

One book that made you cry.

Drunk for 27 years

One book you wish you'd written.

My life story

Our theme for this month is Time Management. Do you have any tips on making time for writing?


If you don’t make time to write the ideas and thoughts running through your mind about the book will drive you crazy and keep you up at night, so if you want a good night sleep, make time to write.

Monday-write, Tuesday-bible study, Wednesday-write, Thursday-watch CSI, Friday-free day, Saturday morning-write, run errand in the afternoon, Sunday morning-go to Church, after church clean house and wash clothes, Sunday night-write.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

P.O. Box 331291, Fort Worth, Texas 76163,
www.authorcynthiabanks.com,
http://www.thelittleteapot@sbcglobal.net/

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

My next book is titled, M.A.C. Daddy. M.A.C. is an acronym for marijuana, alcohol and cocaine. It’s the life story of Tyrese Gibson’s father.

Drunk for 27 years

The road of Priscilla’s life was paved by the people that made choices for her. Through heartache, pain, trauma and tragedy, Priscilla’s experiences became stepping stones that forced her to make a choice that ultimately changed the outcome of her life.

Drunk for 27 years, the compelling true story of Priscilla Gibson, mother of singer, actor and model Tyrese Gibson, suffered 27 years with alcoholicism. The book reveals the unconditional love that her children had for their mother, who despite all they had experienced remained just the strength she needed to make it through.

Suffering abuse at the hands of an alcoholic mother, Priscilla began drinking at a very young age, and continued into her adult years. Many factors manipulated the course of Priscilla’s life, causing her to make one bad choice after another until she finally made the choice to live and not die.


Monday, November 23, 2009

FEATURED AUTHOR: Caridad Pineiro


New York Times and USA Today bestseller Caridad Pineiro wrote her first novel in the fifth grade when her teacher assigned a project - to write a book for a class lending library. Bitten by the writing bug, Caridad continued with her passion for the written word through high school, college and law school. In 1999, Caridad's first novel was released and a decade later, Caridad is the author of over twenty novels and novellas. When not writing, Caridad is an attorney, wife and mother to an aspiring writer and fashionista. For more information on Caridad, please visit http://www.caridad.com/
or http://www.thecallingvampirenovels.com/.


What would you like readers to take away from your book?

Around this time of year, we're all into the scary monster thing, but I would like readers to consider that humans can be much scarier than monsters because they are real and much more inhumane. I'd also like them to take away that love and honor can conquer even the most impossible odds.

Why did you choose to write this book?

I love writing paranormal suspense, but decided it was time to explore a slightly different type of paranormal, namely, one where the otherworldly elements were created by real life science. SINS OF THE FLESH was born out of that desire.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned that there are lots of interesting things happening in the world of genetic engineering that could hopefully one day help people overcome some dangerous illnesses. I also learned that a hero who is not so perfect provided a powerful story of redemption.

What was your favorite scene/chapter from the book?

There is a later scene in the book where the heroine, Caterina, picks up her cello and begins to play in order to restore peace to her soul before what she knows will be a very dangerous task. As she is playing, the hero comes into the room to listen and he is overcome by her music and his love for her. What ensues is a very touching and loving scene between the two.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

That it is a very demanding craft which requires a combination of passion, talent, creativity and perseverance. When I first started writing, I thought, "How hard is it to write a book?" As I discovered later, it's very hard, but I love doing it.

What is the best lesson you have learned from another writer?

The best lesson I learned from another writer is to never be afraid to try something different and challenge yourself. I had been writing contemporary romances at first, but took a chance and wrote something darker. By doing so I discovered my strongest voice and the one that I loved the most.

What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?

The toughest test I faced as a writer was when the line for which I was writing, the multicultural Encanto line, folded in 2001. It was difficult to think about what to do next, but it also came at a time when I was taking the risk to do something different, namely a vampire story. Unfortunately, in 2002 and 2003 I was being told that no one wanted vampires anymore. I stuck to it and eventually sold the story. The rest is history as they say.

What was the best advice you'd ever gotten about the publishing industry? The worst?

The best advice was to never say "No." No matter what an editor asks of you in terms of revisions, deadlines, etc. always go with the flow and try to satisfy their demands. Being known as a go-to girl will always help you get ahead. The worst thing - Don't try to be what you're not (namely, don't try anything different). You never know who you were meant to be unless you're willing to continue to grow and change.

Can you give us one do and one don't for those aspiring to be a writer?

Do be professional and polite in all your contacts with other authors and industry professionals.

Don't be a diva.

I borrowed this question from Author Carleene Brice, What is your author fantasy?

My author fantasy is to keep on publishing the stories that I love for a very long time.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

I was very shy as a child and young adult. It took a lot for me to come out of my shell and learn how to mingle and chat with others.


Five questions about books:

One book that you have read more than once.

The Wolf and the Dove.

One book you would want on a desert island.

Any of the J.D. Robb books.

One book that made you laugh.

Erma Bombeck's IF LIFE IS A BOWL OF CHERRIES, WHY DID I GET THE PITS?

One book that made you cry.

FINE THINGS by Danielle Steele.

One book you wish you'd written.

WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Bronte.

Our theme for this month is Time Management. Do you have any tips on making time for writing?

Since I still work full time and have a family, I carved out time by writing on my train ride to work and by getting up very early on Saturday and Sunday mornings, usually before the family was up. I've found that the morning hours are the most creative for me and I would tell you to try and find your peak creative time and try to schedule some time around that.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

My next book is the second one in the SINS series. It's titled STRONGER THAN SIN and it is about Jesse Bradford, a football player who is forced from the game thanks to a degenerative bone disease. Jesse bribes his way into a radical gene therapy project, only to discover that he is being used as a guinea pig. When Jesse is told that his sister is suffering from a more radical form of the disease, he is willing to do anything to help her, including joining with a black ops team. By doing so he will be introduced to Dr. Liliana Carrera, who has been recruited to help control the genes running crazy in his body, threatening to turn Jesse to bone. There's just one problem. Well, maybe two. Jesse falls hard for the beautiful doctor who is unaware of the fact that she is being used. When Liliana finds out the truth, their love will have to prove stronger than the mad men running the black ops team.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

Readers can visit me at www.caridad.com , find me on Facebook and also, twitter at @CaridadPineiro. I love to hear from readers!

SINS OF THE FLESH

Caterina Shaw's days are numbered. Her only chance for survival is a highly experimental gene treatment - a risk she willingly takes. But now Caterina barely recognizes herself. She has new, terrifying powers, an exotic, arresting body - and she's been accused of a savage murder, sending her on the run.

Mick Carrera is a mercenary and an expert at capturing elusive, clever prey. Yet the woman he's hunting down is far from the vicious killer he's been told to expect: Caterina is wounded, vulnerable, and a startling mystery of medical science. Even more, she's a beautiful woman whose innocent sensuality tempts Mick to show her exactly how thrilling pleasure can be. The heat that builds between them is irresistible, but surrendering to it could kill them both . . . for a dangerous group is plotting its next move using Caterina as its deadly pawn.


Leave a comment for a chance to win a SINS T-shirt and copy of the book.

Friday, November 20, 2009

FEATURED: Jewel Amethyst


Jewel Amethyst was born and raised on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. She has a passion for writing and has authored several collections of short stories and poems. Her debut novel, “A Marriage of Convenience” received a 4 star rating from Romantic Times. Since then, Jewel Amethyst has authored “From SKB with Love”, a novella in the romance anthology “Holiday Brides”. Jewel currently resides in Maryland with her husband and three kids.

What would you like readers to take away from your book?

As with most romance, I would love readers to be caught up in the feeling of happiness as the heroine walks that rocky road to her happily ever after. The heroine is not your typical overly beautiful female. She is a short plus sized woman who finds love in a man she marries as part of a business deal. So what I would really like readers to take away is that you don’t have to be the physically beautiful, rich or without struggles to find your true love and romance can come in the strangest of situations.

Why did you choose to write this book?

I’m not sure if I chose this book or this book chose me. As an immigrant, I’ve often heard stories of people marrying for their green cards. A few years back an acquaintance married for his green card and stuck around for love. I thought: what a great romance story that would make. So I wrote A Marriage of Convenience.

What did you learn while writing this book?

Good editing is what makes a good book. Even the most experienced writer has to go back and edit the book to make it as interesting and easy to read as possible.

What was your favorite scene/chapter from the book?

I have so many favorite scenes it’s hard to say. But if I really think about it, it would have to be Thanksgiving dinner where a snow storm forces Tamara to share her bedroom with her husband for the first time. She finally agrees to consummate the marriage and spent so much time in the shower preparing herself for him just to find that he’d fallen asleep.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

That it’s not as easy as we think. I constantly hear non-writers say, “Anyone can write a book”. Well, that may be true but not every one can tell a really interesting tale. It takes time, dedication and yes, talent. Most of all it is a process that must be developed.

What is the best lesson you have learned from another writer?

I tend to write by inspiration rather than by discipline; meaning, I write when I’m in the mood or can find time to write. That can be tough when you have young kids. One of the best bits of advice I got from another author is that we shouldn’t find time to write, we should make time to write.

What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?

Getting my book published was tough. I have learned that a rejection of your manuscript from a publishing house or agent is not a rejection of you or a reflection of your ability to write. But when those rejection letters come, it is difficult not to be discouraged.

What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry? The worst?

The best advice: No matter how great your publisher, you are your best promoter for your book.

The worst: submit manuscripts only to literary agents. They can get you the best deals. I’ve learned to explore all options and forms of publications including, submitting directly to publishers, considering e-publishing or self publishing.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Do stick to it. Sometimes it’s discouraging when we spend years writing just to be rejected by a publisher, but we should keep writing in spite of it. The more you write, the better your writing becomes.

Don’t ever give up your dreams of being published. There are many more avenues for publication available today than there were a decade or two ago. If conventional publishing houses aren’t working for you, explore some of the other options, but whatever you do, don’t give up.

I borrowed this question from Author Carleene Brice, What is your author fantasy?

Just a few weeks ago on the blog Novel Spaces, one author spoke about first time authors who fantasized about their debut books becoming bestsellers and went on to outline some of her more realistic fantasies. Well I still have that little fantasy that my book would be featured on Oprah’s book club and would rocket to the number one spot on the New York Times bestseller list. Of course I also fantasize about getting it made into a movie. My more realistic fantasy though, is that I can be prolific enough to get two or three publications per year.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

I think they would be surprised to learn that I am a scientist and spend quite a bit of time in a lab running experiments.

Five questions about books:

One book that you have read more than once.

The Color Purple

One book you would want on a desert island.

The Bible

One book that made you laugh.


Bill Cosby’s “Cosbyology”

One book that made you cry.

Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple”

One book you wish you'd written.

That’s a toughie. I can’t think of a book that I wish I’d written.

Our theme for this month is Time Management. Do you have any tips on making time for writing?

Having a full time job and a family with young kids, it is really hard to find time to write. I tend to do a lot of my writing sometime between my kids bedtime and mine. But I do write a lot of my scenes mentally while going about my daily chores. My only tip is to write when you can and when you are relaxed enough to focus on the writing. Fifteen minutes of quality writing beats three hours of staring at the computer blankly hoping that something would come to you.

The other thing I would suggest is visualize some of your scenes in your mind while you go about your daily routine. That way when you get the time to write it, you would spend less time dealing with writer’s block.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

My second book, the novella “From SKB with Love” is part of the “Holiday Brides” anthology which also includes novellas by Farrah Rochon and Stefanie Worth. That was released last month and is in most bookstores as well as Amazon.com and other online book retailers. “From SKB with Love” is about a grieving young widow whose friend wins a trip to the Caribbean island paradise of St. Kitts (my home country) and drags her along. There she meets and falls in love with a handsome Kittitian, but her loyalties to the memory of her dead husband gets in the way of their love.

I currently have a WIP but it is still in its infancy so I’m afraid that sneak peek would have to wait.


How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

I can be reached by email:
jeweld8@gmail.com. I am also on facebook. I blog twice a month on http://novelspaces.blogspot.com/ along with 10 other authors and quite a few guest bloggers. I am also on http://gather.com/


A Marriage of Convenience

The Perfect Bride Tamara Fontaine has planned every detail of her fairy-tale wedding, from her elegant satin-and-lace gown to the rose-strewn bed where she and her husband-to-be will consummate their vows. There’s only one catch… No Groom.

Humiliated and financially devastated by the con artist who left her waiting at the altar, Tamara has no use for men. But she does need someone to share the beautiful new home she can’t afford on her own. Enter Kwabena Opoku, a gorgeous Ghanaian scientist in search of a green card. This time the rules are all laid out ahead of time, and they don’t include romance. But sometimes, against all odds, love comes after…A MARRIAGE OF CONVENIENCE

ARTICLE: The Atypical Heroine

The Atypical Heroine
by Jewel Amethyst

In romance, we dream of a fantasy land where heroines are uncommonly beautiful and the heroes are tall dark and handsome, not to mention rich. I’ve read so many books of women with exotic beauty snagging men with unbelievable wealth that I began to wonder, “Don’t ordinary women fall in love?”

Of course we want fantasy. Of course we want an escape from the realities of life. That’s what romance is about isn’t it? Maybe not.

I have learned over the years that even in our fantasy world we look for people we can identify with. Not every woman maintains a slender size 2 or a curvy size 6. We don’t all sport creamy flawless skin, endless lashes, high cheekbones and full sensuous lips. And we are not all tall with long shapely legs and a luxurious mane of thick shiny hair.

I have been toying for a while with the idea having a not so physically perfect female find her happily ever after (HEA). Hence I created Tamara Fontaine, atypical romance heroine of “A Marriage of Convenience”. Unlike most heroines, Tamara is short. She is what many would describe as a woman with “more to love” as she yo-yos between a size 16 and a size 22. She loses weight, and gains it right back.

She is also financially strapped and emotionally devastated. She was stood up at the altar by a con-artist she’d fallen in love with. She was robbed of all her savings and in credit card debt. Worst yet she was unemployed thanks to a bad job market and corporate downsizing and unable to pay her mortgage. In fear of losing her home she agrees to a green card marriage where the deal includes financial help for her. But things quickly turn from a marriage of convenience to a marriage of love as her handsome foreigner husband begins to fall in love with her.

The thing about Tamara is that she meets her hero at her lowest point in her life. She doesn’t lose weight to meet her man. She doesn’t dig herself out of her financial difficulties or win a lottery. She is in fact at her heaviest and her most vulnerable point in life when the romance is ignited. Yet her husband, Ghanaian born scientist Kwabena Opoku, sees in her beauty, not the overt physical beauty of a supermodel, but the kind that’s generated on the inside and radiates out. And he is captivated by it.

Yes they do find their happily ever after. She doesn’t have to lose weight to find it. And even though she does lose weight in the book, she remains a plus size woman, and she gains it right back. Isn’t that the story of the average American? Oprah Winfrey certainly taught us a lot about losing weight. For the average person, it is a struggle to maintain and we often gain it right back.

But the point is, we can have our happily ever after without being physically perfect. Everyone can find love. And love can overcome all obstacles, even the self imposed ones.

Tamara Fontaine is indeed an atypical heroine of a romance novel, but she is a woman most of us can identify with. I hope to see more romance heroines that reflect the average person. After all, won’t we all like to have our own HEA?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

BOOK INTRO: Live Relationally and Live Deeply


Not Your Grandmother’s Bible Study




Award-winning team of Heitzig and Rose has created a stylish, fast, AND substantive Bible study series for women on the go

Voracious Bible study readers, women purchase Bible studies more than do men by a ratio of five-to-one—and Gallup reports that 14 percent of Americans belong to a Bible-study group. This summer, David C Cook will release two new books in the Fresh Life series, their easy-to-use series of Bible studies for women and about women.

With strong endorsements from well-known Christian leaders like Kay Arthur and Ruth Graham Bell, two up-and-coming female authors, Lenya Heitzig and Penny Pierce Rose, have created the Fresh Life Bible study series published by David C Cook. Perfect for every age, appropriate for groups or individual study, and intended for today’s on-the-go woman, the Fresh Life series requires just 20 minutes a day for a meaningful contemplation of God’s Word. The next two books in the series are Live Relationally and Live Deeply (David C Cook, June 2009). (The first two books, Live Intimately and Live Fearlessly, were released in the summer of 2008.)


Live Relationally offers a fresh look at the important women of Genesis. Though women in the Bible are sometimes overlooked or downplayed, this fascinating Bible study curriculum reminds readers that women are central to God’s story—and His plan. Genesis alone is peopled with women who experience death, marriage, divorce, rape, and family tragedy. And if that sounds like something out of Desperate Housewives, it just goes to show that the Bible has a message for women—today.

With probing questions, insightful sidebars, and meaningful life-application exercises, Live Relationally offers the vivid lessons and rich wisdom of Israel’s founding mothers. From the complicated Tamar to the often oversimplified Eve, they are wives and mothers, slaves and owners, sinners and saints … and each woman’s story will touch hearts for God.

Live Deeply is for anyone who has ever read one of Jesus’ parables and asked, “What is He talking about?” Now women—alone or with a small group—can dig deeper into the meaning of these parables to uncover their important meaning for their walks with Christ. Designed with today’s busy woman in mind, each lesson can be completed in as little as 20 minutes per day, but will leave her with a lifetime of valuable insights.

Based on the inductive Bible study method, each lesson conjures vivid imagery of the sights and sounds of Ancient Israel alongside poignant application questions for today. The Fresh Life Bible study series offers something for Christian women of all shapes and sizes; everyone will leave with a more profound understanding of the important women of Genesis and Christ’s amazing parables.

Author Bios




Lenya Heitzig is an award-winning author and popular Bible teacher. After beginning her ministry as a single women’s counselor with Youth with a Mission, Lenya married Skip and together they started Calvary of Albuquerque, one of the fast growing churches in the country. The author of Holy Moments and co-author of the Gold Medallion-winning Pathways to God’s Treasures, Lenya currently serves as director of women at Calvary, overseeing weekly Bible studies and yearly retreats. Lenya and Skip live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Penny Pierce Rose is the award-winning author/co-author of several books and Bible studies, including the ECPA Gold Medallion winner Pathways to God’s Treasures. She has served on the board of directors for the Southwest Women’s Festival and develops Bible study curriculum for the women’s programs at Calvary of Albuquerque. Penny, her husband, Kerry, and their three children, Erin, Kristian, and Ryan, live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Live Relationally: Lessons from the Women of Genesis
and Live Deeply: A Study of the Parables of Jesus
by Lenya Heitzig and Penny Pierce Rose




David C Cook June 2009
ISBN: 978-1-434767-48-6/288 pages/softcover/$14.99
ISBN: 978-1-434799-86-9/304 pages/softcover/$14.99
www.davidccook.com

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Marriage 101 Blog Tour



Marriage is Like a Bank: Top 10 Deposits to Make Today


by Jewell Powell



We’ve all heard that success is a journey, not a destination. I say that marriage is a journey, not a destination. In other words you have to constantly work at building a successful relationship; it doesn’t just happen. We know that the cares of this world: career, children, household chores, other family members, and more take up so much of our time that by the end of the day, we have nothing left to give to our spouses. In turn, our marriages are missing the very core of what it should have: love.


A successful marriage is not based on a couple having no challenges or disagreements. But it is based on how they communicate with one another day after day. The definition of communicate is: a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior (words or deeds); to open into each other: connect. Therefore, communicating is connecting to one another on a daily basis to strengthen and enrich your marriage. I am not talking about the day in and day out of the routine of marriage – a peck on the cheek, “Have a nice day” - to a call in the middle of the day to discuss the children or why you will be home late - to a peck on the cheek and lights out.


Marriage is a lot like a bank account. A successful couple makes daily deposits – ways to make their marriage a priority. Below are ten ways to deposit love (and they’re FREE!):



1. Kiss them passionately
2. Send an ecard (
http://www.myfuncards.com/, http://www.americangreetings.com/, http://www.123greetings.com/)
3. Watch their favorite show or do their favorite activity
4. Hug them and tell them how much you love and appreciate them
5. Make love to them (yes have SEX!)
6. Put the kids down early, fix a nice healthy dessert, light a candle, and just talk
7. Start a tradition (every week to take a walk, etc.)
8. Play a board game/cards
9. Find a poem or quote (internet, library, or write one) that will express your feelings (either send it or read it to them)
10. Pamper your spouse after work

Dating should not stop once you are married. Continue to court one another and offer tokens of love and appreciation. You don't have to spend a lot of money, but little signs of gratitude and courtship can go a long way to enhance your relationship.



© Jewell R. Powell, the Marriage Coach and author of Marriage 101: Building a Life Together by Faith. For more information, visit http://www.marriage101.us/

ABOUT THE AUTHOR



In July of 1992, Jewell met her Prince Charming at a Roy Rogers restaurant. When the couple decided to marry four years later, both were aware of the latest marriage statistics and the legacy of divorce that lay between them. Her parents divorced when she was four, after moving the family to Maryland, leaving her to be raised by a single mother. To circumvent the odds, they went through pre-marital counseling, attended church regularly and felt a strong love for one another. They believed they were ready for marriage.



While desiring to have a happily ever after, Jewell found life after marriage anything but a fairy tale. In 2001, she and her husband, Lewis, had been married for five years but were growing apart, after experiencing problems with infertility, sleeping in separate bedrooms and Lewis’s increasing disinterest in going to church. As she searched for answers to her marital troubles, Jewell found herself on a journey, seeking answers to save her marriage.



Despite a shaky beginning, the Powells now have a relationship with a strong foundation. After successfully resolving their marital problems, they started the Happily Ever After Marriage Ministry to help others do the same. Her new book, Marriage 101: Building a Life Together by Faith (Revell Books February 2009, ISBN 978-0-8007-3332-2, $13.99), offers hope and guidance to help transform broken relationships through the use of biblical wisdom in a simple workbook format.



Jewell serves as co-owner of Antiok Holdings, an emerging full-service management consulting firm, which she owns with her husband. She earned a Bachelor of Science in business from the University of Maryland and is pursuing a Master of Divinity. The Powells reside in southern Maryland with their two daughters.


ABOUT THE BOOK



Your marriage can be strong, healthy, happy, and blessed. Marriage coach Jewell Powell shows you how in this 8-week plan for marital success. She reveals how God’s truths can transform two individuals into the union he desires. Laying a spiritual foundation is crucial to your marriage. In Marriage 101: Building a Life Together by Faith, you will discover God’s purpose for marriage, how to develop godly character, how to communicate effectively, and much more. With biblical examples, study questions, and Scripture meditations perfect for individuals or couples, you will be challenged to examine areas in your life that may need change so that your marriage can thrive.



Follow the blog tour at http://bit.ly/Marriage101.

For more information about, visit Jewell at http://www.marriage101.us/.

BLOG TOUR DRAWING:

At the end of the week, One Winner (Randomly chosen from all blogs - see schedule at http://bit.ly/Marriage101) will receive a $30 DATE NIGHT certificate to the restaurant of their choice (Applebees, Chili's, Ruby Tuesday or Red Lobster) and a gift pack of books (includes Marriage 101, I Don't Want a Divorce, and Have a New Husband by Friday.)

You MUST leave an email address in the comments and answer the question:

How can a husband and wife find time for each other when they are both busy with work and family?

Monday, November 16, 2009

FEATURED AUTHOR: Dianne Castell


Hot and Irresistible:

Four Southern gals
Four hot guys
One lost jewel
A splash of ghosts
A mix of voodoo
And a big dose of mystery
that brings them all together


What would you like readers to take away from your book?

Being entertained and a feeling for Savannah. Savannah is like another character in Hot and Irresistible. It’s such a great city. And I want readers to have a good time when they read my books.

Why did you choose to write this book?

I love writing best-friend books. And I love Savannah and that it’s haunted and filled with great stories and good food and incredible old homes. It was such fun writing the Savannah Sizzles series. Like taking a vacation there every time I wrote.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I do a lot of research so I know about voodoo and the workings of the police department in Savannah and how to drive a power boat, run an illegal casino, and how NOT to cast a spell.

What was your favorite scene/chapter from the book?

When the heroine, Bebe, discovers who here dad is, she had a bad childhood with an adopted mother who hated her and then she found her family. So much fun to write.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

It’s business, all business. This is not a hobby or a friendship club. It’s really tough business to get published.

What is the best lesson you have learned from another writer?

Don’t give up! And the best revenge for a reject letter is to get published somewhere else and make it big. Hehehehe!

What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?

Getting dropped by one publisher and having to find another. Not fun.

What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry?

Get an agent...a good one. The worse advice was promote your books more. IMO the best thing you can do to promote your books is to write the next one fast!

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Don’t give up. Learn to accept rejection or you’ll never last in this business and remember all that matters to a publishing house is the bottom line...how much money can you make for them.

Don’t take rejection personally. It’s just business.

Write something new and submit it and the only advice you follow is the advice of an editor. Critique groups can be death to your voice.

I borrowed this question from Author Carleene Brice, What is your author fantasy?

I’m already living it...readers enjoy my books. What could be better than that! :) Bless the readers they are the best. I’ve met so many wonderful people...readers, publishers, authors... while writing. It’s more than I could have dreamed. What fun.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

Eat peanut butter right from the jar! I’m a peanut butter junkie!

Five questions about books:

One book that you have read more than once.

I am a big re-reader!
Gone with the Wind
All the Stephanie Plum books
Jurassic Park
Jane Austin books
You get the picture. Like visiting old friends

One book you would want on a desert island.

One book? Only one? The Bible. It says it all and is history and stories and adventure and morals all rolled into one

One book that made you laugh.

The Stephanie Plum books always make me laugh

One book that made you cry.

I cried all the way through The Old Man and The Sea. Love that book!

One book you wish you'd written.
The Old Man and the Sea. :)

Our theme for this month is Time Management. Do you have any tips on making time for writing?

Treat writing like a business and not a hobby and you will get published.

How can readers get in contact with you?

I love love love to hear from readers!! See what’s going on in their neck of the woods. Email: DianneCastell@hotmail.com and my website is http://www.diannecastell.com/

Hot and Irresistible excerpt:
“Don’t you dare go feeling sorry for me, Donovan McCabe, I sure as hell don’t need a pity party.” Her gaze met his and she braced herself for the Oh, you poor thing look but instead Donovan bent his head and kissed her. She started to protest but her lips were busy and suddenly her tongue was too and then her arms got into the act. This was all wrong on every level except one...Donovan McCabe felt so darn good when she was feeling crappy as hell.

How many times had stepmother Dara struck and no one had been there? But here and now on this beautiful spring morning in Savannah, there was Donovan McCabe and that he was a damn Yankee didn’t seem to matter all that much at the moment. She breathed, a sense of peace she’d never known before filling her up like a glass long empty. She leaned into him and took one more kiss, just a little with a tiny nibble of his bottom lip to chase away the lingering chill of Dara, then Bebe stepped back. Every cell in her body...except the two rational cells still functioning in her brain... insisted she was the most stupid woman on planet Earth for not staying locked in his arms.

“What was that all about?” The question was as much for her as him because she didn’t know what to think about the effect he had on her.

“You look like a woman who needed a hug and the kiss part just snuck in.” His voice was steady but there was an unsure spark in his brown eyes that said he didn’t just go around kissing every woman who may have the need. But she didn’t want him to be nice and she wished like hell he hadn’t seen Dara. It was Bebe’s private life, the part she kept tucked away as best she could. A crappy childhood did not transfer into a crappy life. “Are you playing me, McCabe? Softening me up so I’ll help you on this case? Well, I won’t, I have a friendship with an old friend to protect and I can handle Dara on my own.”

“How about I look the other way and you just shoot her.”

Bebe broke into a laugh and today she didn’t think she’d be laughing about anything. “I’ll lend you my gun,” he continued, looking perfectly serious. “Or at least blast the bitch verbally. I’ve seen you in action you’re a hellcat when riled.

Why not now?”

If he hadn’t offered his gun she would have told Donovan to butt out but he did offer and he’d kissed her when she needed it and she wasn’t in the habit of needing much.

Dianne Castell

USA Today best selling author Dianne Castell writes for Kensington BRAVA. She also writes a monthly editor interview column for Romance Writers Report. Her books have won Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, been on the cover of Romantic Times Magazine and included in Rhapsody Book Club, Doubleday Book Club and have made the Waldenbooks Bestseller list.

The second book in her Savannah Sizzles series for the BRAVA line, Hot and Irresistible, hits the shelves Nov‘09. Hot Summer Nights is out May ’10.

Dianne lives in Cincinnati with her two cats and will do just about anything to get out of housework.

Friday, November 13, 2009

FEATURED AUTHOR: Kimberly Killion



Award-winning author, Kimberly Killion, writes sexy Medieval romances for Zebra Books. Her debut book, HER ONE DESIRE, was a RITA® nominee, and her second book, HIGHLAND DRAGON, went into a second printing before release. RT Book Reviews dubbed Killion as an author who writes “captivating romance with excellent pacing and characters who are honorable, intelligent and full of humanity.” Aside from writing, Killion teaches graphic/web design and serves as the President of the Missouri Romance Writers of America. She lives in Illinois with her husband, two children, a dog, three cats, and two dozen chickens. Please visit her website at http://www.kimberlykillion.com/


You write in the Medieval time era. Why did you choose this time frame and how does it enhance the stories?

I love the drama that goes hand in hand with the Medieval era. The struggles and decisions faced by the Highland laird were no small potatoes. People were always at risk, as was land and status. I like to write with a dramatic flare. I have a voice for it, and I think that’s what makes my stories so intense.

What is your favorite part of being a writer?

As the heroine, I get to fall in love. As the hero, I get to be strong, handsome, flirtatious, witty… As the villain, I get to be sadistic and twisted. And as the author, I get to play with people’s lives, make them cry, make them laugh, make them fall in love. And if I’m lucky, I might just inspire one person—the reader.

What was your favorite scene/chapter from the book?

Oh, wow! This is a difficult question. I love the “tree scene”, the “blessing of the bed” scene, the scene where Aunt Wanda says, “I’ve the mind to take a blade to your bollocks and have Mattie cook them slowly over the spit. Ye’ve nay use for them.”
But my favorite would have to be Calin and Akira’s initial meeting. She is being sold at a slave auction of sorts and is a wee bit pissed off about her predicament.

Here’s a snippet:

He crawled atop Akira on all fours, covering her from head to toe. Mocking their privacy, the guards lowered a gauze canopy—caging them like breeding animals on public display. She violently thrashed her head side to side, whipping a black web of hair to veil her features.

“Imigh sa diabhal, bastún,” Akira cursed at him in Gaelic. And then in French. “Focal leat! Retournez à la pute qui t’a accouchée!”

“I am nay a bastard, and my mother wasnae a whore.” Calin calmly corrected her expletives. Her obscene vocabulary both shocked and impressed him.

“To the devil with your black blood. May ye rot alongside the bitseach that birthed ye.”

“Nor was my mother a bitch.” Although Calin knew little about the woman who died giving birth to him, he felt a sense of honor to protect his mother from such heinous names. He exhaled dramatically, shook his head, and tsked. “How can such a vulgar tongue be placed betwixt the lips of such a bonnie fine mouth?”

In response, Akira spat on him. She then thrust forward, ramming her forehead into the bridge of his nose. The impact against his skull reverberated clear to his back teeth.

Hell and damnation, his bride was a hoyden!

******************************

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

That it’s hard. I think there is a misconception that writers just sit down and start typing. There is so much that goes into a story that non-writers don’t know about, like the research, the character development, GMC…just to name a few.

What is the best lesson you have learned from another writer?

I’ve learned perseverance. When you finish a book, and NY rejects it, you start another one. The old saying “suck it up and move on” applies here.

What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?

Finding the time to be something besides a writer. I make time for writing, but sometimes my family suffers for it. If I’m not careful, my kids will be grown and gone while I’m sitting behind this keyboard.

What would you like to tell aspiring writers?

Perseverance. If you want it bad enough, it will happen. You must continue to learn. Find a critique partner or group. I found it easier to learn the craft of writing from reading ‘bad writing’ vs. ‘good writing’. Join online writer’s group and take classes. Read all the How-to books and never, under any circumstances should you ever give up.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

I get up between 3:00 and 4:00 am every morning to write. It is the most peaceful time of day and all is quiet. Plus, I write in a camper that’s parked right outside my garage.J

Five questions about books:

One book that you have read more than once.
Julie Garwood’s THE SECRET

One book you would want on a desert island.
Teresa Medeiros’s HEATHER AND VELVET

One book that scared you.
Scott Smith’s THE RUINS

One book that made you cry.
HIGHLAND DRAGON (I sobbed through that thing while I was doing line edits)

One book you wish you'd written.
TWILIGHT

Our theme for this month is Time Management. Do you have any tips on making time for writing?

Turn off the TV and write.
Get off the internet and write.
Get up an hour earlier and write.
Stay up an hour later and write.
You have to want it to make it happen.

*********************

Check out Kimberly's award-winning novel, HIGHLAND DRAGON, released Oct. 6 from Zebra books.



HIGHLAND DRAGON

Secrets and lies have a price that must be paid in blood through the generations.
Eighteen years after hiding the secret of his betrothed’s lineage, Laird Calin MacLeod must choose between avenging his father’s death and surrendering to the passion he finds in the arms of his enemy’s daughter.

"Fascinating…well-crafted romance. The appeal of Killion's characters comes from their honor, intelligence and humanity."–Romantic Times, 4-star review


Visit Kimberly Killion’s website for contests, excerpts and more:
www.kimberlykillion.com

Now it's your turn. Kimberly is giving away an autographed copy of HIGHLAND DRAGON to one lucky commenter. She wants to know which authors have inspired you to write and what book did you read that made a long term impression on you???

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Lovechild Blog Tour


Ashea Goldson, originally born in Brooklyn, NewYork is a wife of twenty three years, a mother of two daughters, a grandmother of one, a graduate of Fordham University, a writer, a poet, a publisher, a reviewer, an internet radio host, an educator, and a co-founder of a Christian preparatory school. Active in the ministry, she is a dedicated member of World Changers Church International for many years. She has a lifetime of experience with writing which ranges from being published in local newspapers, magazines, and online publications to full length books.

Her first Christian fiction novel is The Lovechild, published by Urban Christian Publishers in 2008. Ashea’s short story entitled “The Kit Cat Trial” will be released in an anthology named Pets Across America in September 2009. Her second Christian fiction novel, Joy Comes In The Morning, will be released in July 2010, also by Urban Christian Publishers. She has recently released a non-fiction title, Resurrecting Vision: 45 steps To Digging Up Your Destiny And Seeing It Through God’s Eyes through her own publishing company.

Calling herself a kingdom writer, and passionate about this calling, she is currently working on her third novel, random poems, several short stories, a children’s book, and is organizing a literacy group for youth in her community. During her relaxation time she can be found hanging out with her family, snuggled up to a good book, or listening to gospel music.

Ashea, tell us about The Lovechild.

The Lovechild is a story about family secrets and one woman’s struggle to forgive them. After escaping what seems like the most dysfunctional family ever to become an international fashion designer, Makaeli Hunt is on her way to the top. Yet when a family emergency forces her to come home, she is faced with truths so devastating that she risks losing her loved ones, her own identity, and the opportunity to reconcile her relationship with God.

How did you come up with ideas for this book?

I wanted to write about a character who was strong, independent, yet wounded , who would encounter something so devastating it would cause her to question everything he or she believed in. So I started to shape the story from that premise.

Who are your main character(s)?

My main characters are Makaeli Hunt, her sister Lisa, and her love interest, Antonio

Did you have a favorite character(s)? Who and why?

My favorite character is Makaeli because she is independent, and ambitious, but still caring.

Did you have to do quite a bit of research for this novel?

Yes, I had to research quite a bit about Italy since Makaeli was living there. I also had to research mental illness for the mother’s character.

What do you hope readers will learn/discover from reading The Lovechild?


I hope that people will realize that redemption is available to everyone no matter where you are spiritually, no matter what has happened to you, no matter what you have done, or haven’t done. Nothing can separate us from God’s love, nothing. God will meet you wherever you are and do a divine work in your life if you allow Him to.

Okay, a not-so-fun question. How important are reviews to you as a writer?

Reviews help to encourage me as a writer, nothing more and nothing less.

ABOUT THE BOOK

In The Lovechild, Makaeli Hunt, a successful fashion designer, has been driven far away from home by her family’s dysfunction. While living in Italy, trying to heal the wounds of yesterday, ambition becomes her comforter. When a family emergency forces her to return to her home, in seven life altering days, amidst memories of a tumultuous past, will one revealed secret drive her away from her family and God forever? Or will she discover what it means to be God’s lovechild?

Dealing with issues of racism, depression, self-esteem, drug addiction, mental illness, verbal and physical abuse,The Lovechild is a story of redemption and re-dedication, confirming our victory in Jesus Christ.

Follow the blog tour at http://bit.ly/TheLovechild


For more information about Ashea, visit her at http://www.asheagoldson.com

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

PURPOSELY SAID - Dr. Linda F. Beed


Be Not Distracted

Distract – To cause to turn away from the original focus of attention or interest; divert.

One of the pitfalls of writing is finding the time to do so without distractions.

Distractions come in a variety of forms. It can be something as simple as having a friend or family member visit during your self-imposed work hours, to losing stretches of time tuning in and out of programs on a television that should be off.

Writing is a business that requires a plan. Your master plan for success should include undisturbed time for writing. Some of the possibilities to help you can be as simple as:

*Setting your schedule so that you are able to be away from family without being distracted by guilt
*Know what project, passage or chapter you need to make headway on
*Turning off the ringer of your home and cell phone
*Turning off televisions and all music
*Having a meal or snack before settling in
*Having a bottle of water nearby

The above practices will vary for each individual. The point is that eliminating distractions is necessary and requires a plan in order to remain on task.

Dr. Linda Beed is an educator, speaker, children’s minister and author of Business Unusual and co-moderator of BWChristianLit an online writing and mentor group. She is also review editor for KDgospel Media Magazine.

You can find her on the web at:

http://www.lindabeed.com/ / MySpace / On Assignment Reviews / BWChristianLit

Monday, November 09, 2009

FEATURED AUTHOR: Marilyn Brant


Marilyn Brant is the award-winning women's fiction author of ACCORDING TO JANE, the story of a modern woman who receives dating advice from the spirit of Jane Austen (October 2009), and her second forthcoming novel about three suburban moms who shake up their lives and their marriages (October 2010), both from Kensington Books.

As a former teacher, library staff member, freelance magazine writer and national book reviewer for Romantic Times, Marilyn has spent much of her life lost in literature. She received her M.A. in educational psychology from Loyola University Chicago, dabbled in both fiction and art at Northwestern University, studied the works of Austen at Oxford University and is an active member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. Her debut novel won RWA's prestigious Golden Heart Award® in 2007.

Marilyn lives in the northern Chicago suburbs with her family, but she also hangs out online at her blog "Brant Flakes." When she isn't rereading Jane's books or enjoying the latest releases by her writer friends, she's working on her next novel, eating chocolate indiscriminately and hiding from the laundry.

According to Jane:

It begins one day in sophomore English class, just as Ellie Barnett's teacher is assigning Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. From nowhere comes a quiet "tsk" of displeasure. The target: Sam Blaine, the cute bad boy who's teasing Ellie mercilessly, just as he has since kindergarten. Entirely unbidden, as Jane might say, the author's ghost has taken up residence in Ellie's mind, and seems determined to stay there.

Jane's wise and witty advice guides Ellie through the hell of adolescence and beyond, serving as the voice she trusts, usually far more than her own. Years and boyfriends come and go--sometimes a little too quickly, sometimes not nearly fast enough. But Jane's counsel is constant, and on the subject of Sam, quite insistent. Stay away, Jane demands. He is your Mr. Wickham.

Still, everyone has something to learn about love--perhaps even Jane herself. And lately, the voice in Ellie's head is being drowned out by another, urging her to look beyond everything she thought she knew and seek out her very own, very unexpected, happy ending. . .

What would you like readers to take away from your book?

That a woman’s journey toward understanding her heart and listening to her own voice can, many times, take far longer than we would like. That the relationship odyssey is often treacherous and strewn with frustrating obstacles. But…the journey is worth it.

Why did you choose to write this book?

I fell in love with Austen’s Pride & Prejudice when I was 14 and couldn’t help but wish I had someone as wise as Jane to guide me through the perils of adolescence. In a way, writing According to Jane was a kind of wish fulfillment! Who better to offer romantic advice than the author who penned one of my favorite love stories of all time, right?

What did you learn while writing this book?

That a writer could tell a good story, but it takes something more to make it a publishable one. My book needed heavy structural revision in order to be marketable. It’s the same story it was when I was telling it chronologically but, in its current form (with flashbacks and other references to the past), it better fits in the women’s fiction genre. The publisher needed that clearer “fit” in order to sell it to the marketing/sales people who, in turn, needed that definitive genre placement to sell it to the bookstore chains.

What was your favorite scene/chapter from the book?

One scene I had a lot of fun writing was the bar scene in the first chapter where my main character runs into her ex-high-school boyfriend for the first time in four years. It was a situation I’d never experienced personally, but I could imagine the comical possibilities so clearly and feel and the frustration of my heroine as if I’d been the one standing there, facing the jerk and his latest girlfriend, while Jane Austen ranted about how “insufferable” he was.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

That just because I work from home, it doesn’t mean I’m always available. Fortunately, my friends understand this now, but people I don’t know as well are occasionally mystified by the fact that I can’t just take off in the middle of the day whenever I want. That being a writer requires a lot of self discipline to work, even when there isn’t a boss standing over you, demanding you to get your projects done.

What is the best lesson you have learned from another writer?

That it’s critical to maintain a healthy perspective about the publishing industry. Basically, to keep your priorities very clear so your life doesn’t fall into imbalance. My family is my #1 priority and everything else follows that. I can (and do) work hard at writing, but I’m trying to work equally hard at not being so obsessive about it that I lose too much time with those I love or miss important events.

What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?

That, once I had a contract, I’d have far less time to actually write! This has been one of the biggest challenges for me. I now have to split my true writing time with promotion and publicity. In some ways, it’s helped me use the real writing time more efficiently--I don’t have a half hour to web surf for just the perfect name for some character’s pet, I need to get to the heart of the narrative much faster and save some of the detail hunting for later. Regardless, it’s proven to be quite a juggling act: promoting book #1, revising and finalizing book #2, drafting book #3…simultaneously…while also still trying to have a family life and make time to sleep/eat/shower. Also, authors are no longer quite so anonymous in today’s world. Aside from the work of keeping up with my online life, the fact that my photo is visible on my website, blog, Facebook page, etc. has made me a more frequently recognized person in my community. That, too, has been surprising, and it’s led to some rather interesting, impromptu conversations at the local Piggly Wiggly.

What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry? The worst?

The best advice was an essay I read that stressed understanding that book reviews (or manuscript critiques) are not personal. The reviewer brings his/her own biases to the story and, in the end, the review is more of a reflection of the reviewer’s beliefs, tastes and values than a commentary on your story. And this is true whether that commentary ends up being positive or negative.

The worst advice I was given was from an editor who told me I should rewrite my book to fit a a particular genre just because that was a hot market… I did not follow that advice AT ALL, and I don’t regret it!

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

DO: Work to really understand WHY you write. This is a personal thing, of course, and it’s rare that two writers in a room would share the exact same reason, but what’s YOUR draw? Crafting characters? Plotting something dramatic/suspenseful/funny/heartwarming? The possibility of fame, fortune and lengthy book tours? What brings you back to your notebook or your computer screen, even without a contract nudging you? Remember that and cherish it.

DON’T: Write to trends--write only what you love and feel passionate about.

I borrowed this question from Author Carleen Brice, What is your author fantasy?

Oh, I’m secretly, unrelentingly ambitious, even when I have no right to be. Of course I want the NYT bestseller list *and* the movie. Also, an Oprah invitation and a few RITAs. However, these are not quite enough to satisfy every daydream I’ve ever had. I’d greatly enjoy winning an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, a Tony and an Olympic gold medal (in both ice skating and gymnastics). The fact that I’m pathetic on skates and terrified of the uneven bars is, in no way, a deterrent from these unrealistic fantasies. My simple ability to *imagine* them, makes them almost real. Furthermore, I like shiny things (although I don’t like to dust them), so I hereby promise that if I win ANY heavy golden statuettes--ever--I will dust faithfully. Especially that Grammy award. Really.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

I used to dance! I was in a touring folk dance group during college and spent a summer dancing at festivals throughout Europe. It was an exhausting and fabulous experience.

Five questions about books:

One book that you have read more than once. Love Story by Erich Segal

One book you would want on a desert island. A very large blank journal (and a pen…)

One book that made you laugh. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

One book that made you cry. Never Change by Elizabeth Berg

One book you wish you'd written. (Only one?!) Nobody’s Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Our theme for this month is Time Management. Do you have any tips on making time for writing?

Something I do when I’ve only got a few minutes to work and know I might get interrupted is to just grab a notebook page and a pen and jot down (in list form) “things that need to happen in the next scene.” I can expand on an idea if I think of further details and (if time allows) put the events in order. That way, when I’m at my computer and really have time to sit and type that next scene, I’m going into it with some very specific ideas of what’s happening in the plot and with the emotional arcs of the characters.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

My website is www.marilynbrant.com
and I have a Press/Contact page with a snail mail and an email address. I’m also on Facebook, GoodReads and have a Yahoo group, and those sites are listed there, too.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

My next book is called Fridays at Nine, and it’s a modern fairy tale about three suburban forty-something moms who meet for coffee every Friday morning. One day, one of the women asks her friends if they think they made the right choice in marrying the man they did…and if they’d make any changes if they could. Each woman must figure out how to answer that question for herself…

Friday, November 06, 2009

FEATURED AUTHOR: Zaria Garrison


Zaria Garrison was born and raised in Greenville SC, where she found a love for reading and writing at an early age. In 2005 her first novel Baring it All was released by Publish America under her birth name Gena L. Garrison. It received rave reviews and she was awarded the best new author award of 2005 by Mahogany Media.

As she continued writing she felt she could no longer write stories that involved explicit sex and violence. She could only write what God told her to write. Following her transformation, as he did with Saul, God gave her a new name Zaria, which means new beginnings. As an award-winning author she is committed to writing and publishing literature that ministers as well as entertains.

Zaria is also part owner and staff writer for EKG Literary magazine. An online magazine dedicated to being the pulse of the literary community.


Zaria also offers insight and encouragement to aspiring authors through workshops, and writing classes that allow each participant to discover the craft of writing and how it can be used to effectively minister to youth, women, and all members of the community.

Prodigal is her first Christian fiction novel.


What would you like readers to take away from your book?

I want the readers to feel entertained, as well as enlightened. I'd also like for them to feel the theme of forgiveness. I hope they feel it in their hearts and take it for use in their lives.

Why did you choose to write this book?

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the Biblical story of the Prodigal son, from a female perspective. So I decided to make the sibling involved women.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned a great deal about myself as a sibling who also has dealt with sisterly rivalry. After writing some scenes I went back and re-read the book, and was able to see God speaking to me through my own words. Writing this book taught me a better way to deal with my sister and our issues.

What was your favorite scene/chapter from the book?

I actually have two favorite scenes. The first is the scene when Phylicia realizes the truth about her husband and her sister, Phoebe. It's a very heart wrenching scene. The second is a dream sequence. I don't want to give details about that because I don' t want to give spoilers. However it was really fun to write.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

I think most non-writers don't understand how much research and effort actually goes into writing a book. Even when I'm not physically typing words, I am going over scenes and chapters in my head. Sometimes I'm online researching situations or fact checking things I want to write about. There is a lot more to writing than just putting the words on paper.

What is the best lesson you have learned from another writer?

Ebony Farashuu taught the value of networking and having friends in the publishing industry. She and I became friends online and since that time we've both had books released and our friendship and connections have been very valuable.

Without knowing it, Victoria Christopher Murry taught me the value of being approachable and humble. Whenever I have emailed Victoria whether as a fan, or an aspiring writer, she always responds and she's always cordial. I know that's the type of author I want to be.

What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?

Learning how to promote myself has been very tough during this recession. I lost my day job, which meant I also lost my income. However, in order to continue with my writing, I still needed to continue with promotions. So I had to learn to think outside the box, and just keep persevering. It's been difficult but I can honestly say that it's possible to promote on little or no money.

What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry?

Essence best selling author Angel Hunter told me to do lots of research before submitting to any publisher or agent. That has helped me to avoid some of the mistakes I see others making in the business. I do my homework and try to go into every situation with my eyes wide open.

The worst? Thankfully I've never been given any bad advise about the publishing industry. I feel blessed that everyone I've encountered has offered valuable information.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

The biggest do is do read. I don't think that anyone can be a good writer without first being an avid reader. I think anyone aspiring to write should read anything they can get their hands on. Read magazines, books of different genres, websites and especially newspaper. I feel that will teach the writer to recognize a good story. The biggest don't, would be don't give up. I talk to people all the time who say they wish they could become writers, but they have a mountain of excuses for why they have given up. It's not easy, and success won't come overnight. But it's rewarding and well worth pursuing.

I borrowed this question from Author Carleene Brice, What is your author fantasy?

My fantasy would be to have my books simultaneously sitting atop several best seller lists. Because of that, there is a line of hundreds waiting outside bookstores to talk with me and have me sign their books. That would be awesome.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

I think some readers would be surprised to know that I sing. I'm a soloist with my church choir, and singing is actually my first love, before writing. Most people who know that I sing are surprised to find out that I also write, so I think the reverse would be true also.

Five questions about books:

One book that you have read more than once.

The Coldest Winter Ever by Sistah Souljah

One book you would want on a desert island.

The Bible

One book that made you laugh.

So you call yourself a man by Carl Weber

One book that made you cry.

Joy by Victoria Christopher Murry

One book you wish you'd written.

Whatever book is currently sitting atop the NY Times best seller list.

Our theme for this month is Time Management. Do you have any tips on making time for writing?

I made a commitment to write for at least 30 minutes per day everyday. That means no playing on Facebook, watching TV, or even listening to music. I set my cell phone alarm to remind me when to start and stop.


Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

My next book is called Losing it.

Grammy award winning gospel singer and actress Sharmaine Cleveland has been arrested and charged with the attempted murder of her husband, Leon. This follows on the heels of another scandal involving sex tapes that have been distributed to news stations across the country. Allegedly, the woman in the tapes is Sharmaine Cleveland.

Her latest CD release is a flop, while her newest movie release has been placed on hold indefinitely. Believing she wants him dead, her husband Leon abandons her, and her mother in law forcibly takes her children.

Sharmaine’s life is sinking fast. Will she go under or will God be able to pick her back up and put the pieces back together.

Losing it will be released Oct 2010



How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

My email is zaria@zariagarrison.com

My website address is http://www.zariagarrison.com/
and also http://www.ekgliterarymag.com/

Prodigal

It’s good twin versus bad in this Christian drama filled with romantic rivalry and sister strife. Phylicia and Phoebe are both in love with Reverend Gary Morgan, the pastor of Freedom Inspiration, but he only has eyes for his high school sweetheart, Phylicia. That doesn’t stop Phoebe from scheming to get him, however. The girls are saved and saving themselves for marriage, but Phoebe decides to pose as her sister one day and seduces the poor pastor—who’s enraged when he learns he’s been duped. Phylicia and Gary are able to get paste it and build a life together, while shamed Phoebe leaves town. But that’s not the last they’ll all hear of the betrayal that altered the course of everyone’s destiny, including that of their children…

Buy Prodigal (Urban Christian)TODAY

About Me

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I believe in promoting authors and their books. Let me introduce you and your books to online readers.

I'm also a happily married mother of three who's trying to break into the Christian writing field. The writing road can be rocky.

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