Thursday, October 24, 2019

Interview with Kathy McKinsey & spotlight of Millie's Christmas...

We're happy to have Kathy McKinsey with us today talking about Millie's Christmas. To learn more about Kathy and her wonderful book, read on!

 From the back cover:
Ruthie says Millie will love Christmas. Ruthie is Millie’s best friend, so she’s sure Ruthie’s right, but why does Millie keep finding Ruthie and her brother Jake crying?

Millie, an orange kitten, shares about her first Christmas. Her best friend Ruthie, six years old, teaches Millie about Christmas—food, decorations, music, presents, and Jesus!
Millie’s friend Bruce, the family dog, also helps her celebrate Christmas, and sometimes gets her in trouble.
When Ruthie’s big brother Jake breaks his ankle, Millie learns about sad things, like divorce, when Jake can’t visit his mommy for Christmas. Millie watches Ruthie’s family love each other through the sadness, and find joy in Christmas.

The first page of the book:


Hello. My name is Millie, and I'm a cat. Well, my mama says I'm still a kitten. But I'm four months old. I think that makes me a pretty grown-up cat.
We live in a house where there are two cats, Mama and me. There’s one dog, Bruce. He’s my friend. And we have four people. The most important person is Ruthie. She's six years old, and she's my best friend. She says I'm her cat, but really she's my person.
Ruthie has a big brother named Jake who's nineteen. He's funny. Then there are their parents, Mommy and Daddy, and they're nice but very busy.
Ruthie says I'm beautiful. I'm orange all over, except a white spot on my tummy and one white ear. Bruce laughed at me once and said I looked goofy with that one white ear. What does he know? He's mostly brown all over, with a black patch above his nose, and he has white feet. Now that's goofy.
Something exciting happened today. Ruthie picked me up, squeezed me, and ran all over the house yelling, “It's Christmas time. It's Christmas time. Millie, you're going to love Christmas.”
“Meow, meow,” I yelled back. I didn't know what Christmas was, but Ruthie was excited, so I was too. “Meow.”
Ruthie kissed my face and whirled through the house, making me dizzy. “At Christmas we have lots of fun food, and candles, and decorations, and visiting, and candy.” She rubbed my ribs. “You’ll love it, Millie.”
I didn’t know what most of that stuff was, but it made Ruthie happy, so I knew it would be great.

Please tell us five random things we might not know about you.
My favorite vegetables are coffee and cocoa beans. Daisies are my favorite flowers. I am starting a new job as a braille certification teacher in a women’s prison. My favorite color is orange. When I was a teenager, I had a crush on Tony Orlando.

Why did you choose to write this book?
Several years ago, I learned about NaNoWriMo, a program where writers are encouraged to write a novel during the month of November. I didn’t feel ready for this, but I did want a project to keep me writing every day. By then it was December, and I decided to write a Christmas story. I am more of a pantser than a plotter, but usually I have a very basic outline of what will happen in the story. This time, however, I just sat down to write whatever came to mind. Before long, God had given me this fun family Christmas story. I believe people of all ages can enjoy Millie’s Christmas.

What one thing about writing do you wish non-writers would understand? 
Readers should know what hard work a writer does, from working up an idea, writing, editing and re-editing, to publishing to marketing.

What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?
The hardest thing for me has always been making myself sit down and write. Once I start, I love it. I am making slow progress in this discipline.

What do you hope readers to take away from your novel?
I want them to remember that the love and joy of Jesus will be with them during hard times.

What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of, writing-related or not?
I am most thankful for the gift God has given me of being mother to five wonderful children, now adults.

 What do you do for fun when not writing?
I love to read, crochet and knit, cook and bake.

What are you working on now? 
I am working on a story about a mother and her teenage daughter, and the mother is blind. I am blind, but I have never tried before to have a main character be blind. I’m finding it quite a writing challenge.

Bio and links:
Kathy McKinsey grew up on a pig farm in Missouri, and although she’s lived in cities for nearly 40 years, she still considers herself a farm girl.

She’s been married to Murray for 32 years, and they have five adult children.

She’s had two careers before writing—stay-at-home-Mom and rehabilitation teacher for the blind.

She lives in Lakewood, Ohio with her husband and two of her children. Besides writing, she enjoys activities with her church, editing for other writers, braille transcribing, crocheting, knitting, and playing with the cat and dog.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Interview with Kelli Pizarro & spotlight of Shanty by the Sea...

We're happy to have Kelly Pizarro with us today talking about her book Shanty by the Sea.

Please give us the first page of the book.
  I caught a glimpse of a couple holding hands, staring through the window of a high-end boutique at a display of china. Yes, the kind that everyone swears they’ll have when they get married, but only a few make it a point to put on their registry and even fewer actually receive as a gift. I didn’t get a good look at the set, but I’m pretty sure it was blue. I was too busy studying the couple.
  I know, I know. So staring at them over my steaming paper cup of coffee is not “catching a glimpse.” It may not be healthy to sit on a bench and watch shoppers accomplish their private-though-public tasks, wondering if their lives mimic your own in any way. But what else is a girl to do on a Thursday afternoon after work? So I sipped the last of my amaretto and honey breve and savored every moment of the view before I ran out of sunlight.
  The couple, appearing to be in their early thirties, were dressed in matching sweaters. Cute, if you’re into that sort of thing. I don’t know if I am or not. My boyfriend only wears one coat, every single day of the year. Gray with black stripes, white around the collar. It’s pretty hard to find anything matchy-matchy when your boyfriend stands a foot tall and spends more time in one day grooming himself than you do all week. Ok, so I don’t have a boyfriend. I have a cat, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. That’s sort of the same thing, right?

From the back cover:
Scarlett Cooper’s goals in life up to this point have been simple enough: run The Little Latte coffee shop by day and finish a novel-in-the-making by night. When her creative writing juices dry up, she visits the local bookstore for inspiration and leaves with a flier promoting an upcoming writer’s retreat in Cape Cod. 

When announced as a winner, Scarlett crosses the state line from New Hampshire into Massachusetts. What she doesn’t realize is the retreat is themed The Great Writers of History, and she has been selected to play the part of starving artist Charles Dickens.

Hilarity ensues as Scarlett dresses in costume and competes against two fellow writers playing the parts of Jane Austen and William Makepeace Thackeray, spends her nights in a tiny shack on a cliff overlooking the sea, and finds herself developing feelings for a local man hired to tend to the retreat pet: a decrepit donkey named Janet.

Although things at the retreat don’t run as smoothly as Scarlett had hoped, and the competitive nature of the other writers tests her in a way reminiscent of Job who lost half his donkeys (one of which was probably named Janet), she learns that no amount of adversity is worth letting go of one’s dreams.

Please tell us five random things we might not know about you.
I prefer rainy, autumn weather over sunshine.
I have Pinterest boards for coffee shop and tea house ideas because I'd love to open one someday!
I impersonate my English Bulldog, Purple Haizely, on a daily basis. It's become the norm in my house.
Although most people might think I am unapproachable at first (it's the face), I'm the goofiest, weirdest human you'll meet and I love random conversations with strangers.
I love cooking and eating Italian food. One day you might catch me spending a summer in Italy. If you do, don't judge how much I have on my plate!

Why did you choose to write this book?
After my diagnosis of breast cancer on my 27th birthday, I began prioritizing many things. One, I realized I spent way too much time worrying if my house was perfect and meals always 100% homemade. I realized I stressed too much over what people thought of me and my writing, and that is why I'd never completed a single book I'd started. Since I was young, I've filled notebooks, typed on old typewriters, and had random computer documents filled with bits of books that would never come to fruition. After chemotherapy was complete and I was able to start life again, I decided I would let a few stresses go and write a story that shows what life might have been like for me had I taken a few different turns. Been born somewhere else, pursued my dreams of running a coffee shop, worked toward finishing my books, etc.
A few years back I made a friend who is my age and had never had a boyfriend or been on a date. She is my kind of quirky, and an absolute delight to talk to. You never know what's going to come out of this girl's mouth. She's just that random. I combined my story with parts of each of our personalities, threw in my dream of visiting New England in the fall, and bam! Shanty by the Sea.

What one thing about writing do you wish non-writers would understand?  
Writers are people with normal lives who are kept up by their imaginary friends. We write because we love it, and because we must, and we thrive on reviews. Every time you review a book, an author somewhere gets their wings.

What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?
The many rejection letters that come from uninterested publishers. It makes thick skin, for sure.

What do you hope readers to take away from your novel?
Even with life's crazy obstacles, pursuing the dreams and goals God has given you is worth the hard work. You don't need anyone to give you permission to chase after that dream. Not everyone you meet along the way is your cheerleader, either. At the end of the day, you feel better knowing you have taken a few steps forward, despite the great effort it often takes.

What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of, writing-related or not? 
Homeschooling my children is one thing I'm proud of. My oldest turned sixteen this year and graduated her high school studies. She's sitting across from me painting on canvas as I type this. She'll go to work within the next couple months and start college next fall. My other two kids are preparing for a similar path. Getting to be part of this is one of my biggest blessings.

Also, the sheer excitement of finishing five books and coming close to finishing two more is overwhelming. I am proud of myself for that. Life is crazy busy, and I have to make a lot of sacrifices on sleep and time to make this happen.

What do you do for fun when not writing?
Travel, read, cook, visit family, play in the garden, and sit at my favorite local coffee shop and people-watch. These are my favorite things.

What are you working on now?
Two books at present.
One, Blackwater's Daughter, is about a woman, Alesia, who takes a live-in housekeeping and assistant job at Blackwater Plantation in Louisiana. The proprietor is handsome and moody, and has a book full of family secrets stashed away in the spare room. Alesia stumbles upon this book and uncovers more than a brief glimpse into the plantation's past.
Another, which isn't presently titled, features an eccentric twenty-something woman named Lydia who owns and operates a pet bakery in Salem, Massachusetts. When her ex-boyfriend's new love interest is found dead by poisoning with a half-consumed treat from her bakery in her possession, Lydia is the primary suspect. She pulls together with her best friend and a couple other townsfolk to prove her innocence and get her bakery back to running. Involving herself in the tangles of this murder mystery puts Lydia and her Frenchie, Pierrie, in grave danger, but this doesn't keep her from seeking out the truth about the murder... and a few other things she's been avoiding dealing with in her life.
I hope both of these to be finished by the end of the year and ready for querying come January.

Where else can readers find you online?    
Here are some links!

Kelli Pizarro was born in East Texas, where she now resides with her husband Julian, and their three children, Lexi, Aly, and Trent.
Christian dystopian and historical novels, with romance sprinkled in here and there, are her favorite reads. She is currently working on her sixth and seventh books.
Most evenings she can be found curled up with a cup of coffee and her laptop. She hopes to own a coffee shop or tea house one day. Her goal as an author is to touch as many hearts as she can with stories that encourage people to seek to know God and His Son, Jesus, more intimately.
You can find Kelli on Facebook and Twitter where she loves connecting with her readers.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Interview with Maria T. Henriksen & spotlight of Not Again...

We're happy to have Maria T. Henriksen with us today talking about her book Not Again. To learn more about Maria and Not Again, read on!

Book description/blurb:
Christina De Rosa holds a potentially deadly secret that threatens to get out. As an innocent young teenager, Christina survives a terrifying detailed sexual assault that destroys her self-worth and trust. 

In her daily struggle, Christina searches for ways to keep her torment at bay, so she can function as a "normal" teenager. Meanwhile, Christina's spiritual journey leads her down a path causing conflict within, as she's riddled with guilt and shame. 

A chance encounter with her longtime, hot crush, Avery Evans, sparks a fire in Christina that she can't  extinguish. As the sweet, loving, knight in shining armor he readily portrays, Avery offers the safety and security that Christina craves.

In her quest for internal peace, Christina must make a decision. Will she give her heart, body and soul to the super popular, Avery Evans? 

Will Christina's nightmares become all-consuming or will her discoveries lead her to a renewed way of life?

Find out if true love triumphs in this edgy, faith-based young adult page-tuner, set in the 1980s.

*Not Again is NOT your typical Christian coming of age story. Fierce faith doesn't come without a fight. Prepare for heartache, self-harm, traumatic events, real romance, and actual scripture in these pages. 

Tell us a little about yourself:
Hi, I'm a debut author and I am super excited to have recently launched my first novel called Not Again. Not Again is a young adult edgy Christian romance novel that follows the spiritual journey of a young teenage girl during the 1980s. There's real romance, actual scripture and lots of heartache as well as humor. 

I started reading young adult novels when I began to substitute teach because it was convenient to check out books at the school library. Before I knew it, I was hooked on reading that genre. I decided to combine elements that I like to read like romance and make it faith based with a literary flair. As a teacher, I can't resist an opportunity for a teaching lesson as demonstrated by the various themes in the novel.

Being a substitute teacher and parent of boy/girl teenagers causes me to be immersed in the daily struggles of teens. Life is messy and teenagers have their own challenges in navigating life. Not Again speaks to those struggles in a meaningful way.

During the revisions of my novel, I experienced a tremendous amount of physical pain and stress, including neck surgery. As a result, I found it necessary to employ coping mechanisms to get me through that difficult season of my life. In turn, I incorporated those same techniques in my novel. My hope is that my book will transform lives by it's inspirational message, and not just the lives of teens, but adults as well.

Tell us five things about yourself that many people don't know:
I placed 3rd in my age group for a 10K after only running for less than a year. 
I spent 1.5 years in physical therapy the past 2 years nursing multiple injuries.
I aspire to run a half marathon.
I took the photos, video and wrote the song for the book trailer & cover. 
I want to become an inspirational speaker.

Tell us about your journey to publication:
The most challenging aspect of publishing  novel was the actual publishing portion of it. The writing and revising was the easy fun part. Trying to figure out what avenue to publish and how to go about executing my plan was excruciating. 

Technical issues were abound. It seemed as if every fluky issue that could be experienced, I experienced it. There were epic fails all over the place. I had to buy a brand new computer, a brand new phone, a brand new tripod to broadcast live and I'm still having issues, not the same ones, different ones. 

You have to be a jack of all trades to self-publish and promote yourself. It's grueling and frustrating. There are many obstacles to overcome. Is it worth it? I honestly don't think I will know the full impact of my novel, but it was written out of obedience to Christ.

I have a message, a ministry. The book was inspired by God as I never knew what was coming next. Not Again was written with many themes that I hope my readers will take to heart.

When I'm not writing, you can find me jogging, reading or listening to live music music performed by talented 


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Interview with Jan Cline & spotlight of The Pruning...

We're happy to have Jan Cline with us today talking about her book, The Pruning. To learn more about Jan and her inspirational historical fiction book, read on!

Back cover blurb
Clarissa Wilding can’t run away from her past. Moving from the drought-ridden Kansas plains to the green hills of the Pacific Northwest has only drawn her secrets to the surface, threatening the new life she has built with her husband, Frank, and their boys. When Frank introduces her to his brother, everything changes, and Clarissa must deal with new revelations that test their family bond and may forever alter their happiness.

The first page of the book:
Chapter One
Pasco, Washington, June 1935
After three long days and two nights sitting on a lumpy seat, Clarissa had looked forward to getting off this train, but now all she wanted was to slither into the safety of the grimy locomotive and go back where she’d come from. Despite a promise of a new beginning, her life was about to fall into an abyss deeper than the sand dunes she had just escaped.
Her throat tightened as she tried to pull in some air. Like the dust storms around their homestead on the Kansas plains, the sight of her husband, Frank, hugging his estranged brother, robbed her of breath. If her first impression was correct, another kind of storm brewed before her eyes.
It can’t be him. Her gut told her this wasn’t her imagination, but indeed a cruel twist in her plans for a brighter future for what was left of her family. One more long look at his face, his stature, and any lingering doubt faded.                                  
She turned from the scene and scanned the yard around the clapboard station house. The sheer beauty of the clear skies and rolling hills in the distance should have been her welcome. The sight of blooming flowers and tall leafy trees might have excited her but for the shock of seeing him again.

Please tell us five random things we might not know about you.
1)    I’m a craft-a-holic.
2)    I have been singing since I was 6 years old – sometimes professionally.
3)    I founded and directed a writers conference for 5 years.
4)    In my family I’m known as the cheesecake queen.
5)    I was first published when I was in the 3rd grade. Been writing ever since.
Why did you choose to write this book?
This book is the 2nd in a series on a topic I became fascinated with while watching some documentaries. The depression/dust bowl era has so many stories left untold. I believe in keeping history alive, and the characters in my book make that happen for me, and I hope for my readers. Once I developed my make-believe family in book 1, I had to continue their journey through all the tough years Americans endured. 

What one thing about writing do you wish non-writers would understand? 
How much hard work it takes to organize and write a good story. That most talented authors have to study the craft and learn what makes a good read. The majority of authors don’t earn a living just from writing books. I’d like non-writers to know that while it’s great to get a book for free, authors work very hard to get that story to them. Please thank your favorite authors with reviews on Amazon.

What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?
Writing the next book, and making it better than the last. Book 3 of my series is based on the life of my mother. As I finish the manuscript, I feel pressured to get the characterization right while still telling a great partially true story. This has been a struggle for me – sort of mixed emotions at times. But I know I’m supposed to write this book. I’ve researched it for years and just want to get it right.

What do you hope readers to take away from your novel?
I hope my readers see that even through the most difficult times, determination and faith can move mountains. The women in my books all find that inner strength to endure impossible situations. It’s a lesson in humility for most of us who have never had to suffer through devastating circumstances like those of the dust bowl, the great depression, and WW2.

What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of, writing-related or not?
Creating and directing my conference was a huge thing for me, and I feel good that so many writers were encouraged and even published through those conferences. The other thing is just finishing a novel, then 2, then 3!

 What do you do for fun when not writing?
Crafts, RV camping, golf. We also have a cabin on a small lake that is a good getaway.

What are you working on now? 
Book 3 of this American Dreams series. As I mentioned, it is based on the life of my mother – and her WW2 bomber pilot husband. Then I have another WW2 story up my sleeve for next year.

Where else can readers find you online?
Facebook: Jan Cline Author
Twitter: @Jan_Cline
Anyone can join my monthly newsletter and receive a free short story!

Jan has been writing most of her life, but wasn’t published until later in life. After writing non-fiction for several years, fiction became her focus, with emphasis on the stories from America’s history. Her first novel, Emancipated Heart, was published in 2016. Jan enjoys her life in northern Idaho, living with her newly retired husband and very spoiled dog. She has 9 grandchildren to keep her busy. 

Interview with Kathy McKinsey & spotlight of Millie's Christmas...

We're happy to have Kathy McKinsey with us today talking about Millie's Christmas. To learn more about Kathy and her wonderful ...