Tuesdays Talks – Interview with Connilyn Cossette

This week we have the amazing Connilyn Cossette. Connilyn is a Christy Award Nominated and CBA-Bestselling author of the Out from Egypt Series from Bethany House Publishers. Tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.

Although we now live in NorthCarolina, I am originally from Washington State (the dry side, although I’velived on the wet side too). I’ve been married for 21 years and am the mother ofa 14 year old son and a 11 year old daughter whom I’m homeschool. I was raisedin the Church under the influence of two godly and wise women, my mom and mygrandma, both of whom have had a lot of influence on my career as a Biblicalfiction author. I was a voracious bookworm from the beginning and fell in lovewith words and language at a very young age. I did not start writing seriouslyuntil I was in my mid thirties however, due to a lack of confidence but Godtook me by the hand and led me into this beautiful career, in spite of myself-doubt, and now I cannot imagine doing anything else!

What’s your favorite genre to read and write. Who’s your favorite author?

I’ve always been drawn tohistorical fiction of all kinds and will pretty much read any historicalstories that I can get my hands on. It has always served to make the past comealive for me. I have so many authors that I admire but I would have to say forhistorical I adore Liz Curtis Higgs and her Scottish series above most others.

What age did you realize you loved books? When did you start writing?

I was an early reader, in fact, my mother told me the other day that she regretted not reading more to me when I was young because I was reading on my own at about three and she couldn’t keep up with me! Reading was always my favorite activity and pretty much the only thing I ever got in trouble for in school was sneak-reading books under my deskduring class (especially…ahem..math). I was also consistently drawn towriting and took many creative writing classes during my school years but thismostly took the form of poetry. It wasn’t until I got inspired by my studies ofthe Exodus and the idea for Counted with the Stars refused to leave me alonethat I sat down and actually wrote a book.

Tell us about this book.

Shelter of the Most High is the second in the Cities of Refuge Series and builds on the story of Eitan, whom readers first met in A Light on the Hill as a young boy. It is also the story of Sofea, a young woman who lives on the ancient island of Sicily and is taken forcibly from her home by Bronze Age pirates. When the two meet in Kedesh, the City of Refuge, they will be forced to face a number of trials, from language barriers, to cultural and religious differences, to betrayal and entanglement in a murder plot. I fell in love with Eitan and Sofea and had so much fun bringing the two together and hope readers enjoy the journey too!

What did you learn about yourself through writing it?

Gosh, it’s been so long since Iwrote it…but  I would say that Eitandeals with the problem of self-recrimination and not embracing the grace thathe was given many years before and I find myself doing the same and allowingthe Enemy to keep bringing up old sins. Sometimes I forget that I’ve alreadybeen forgiven and my sins are separated from me as far as the East is from theWest.  Eitan’s journey is a greatreminder to live the life of freedom that we were gifted by Jesus at the Cross.

Do you normally use an outline for the books you write, or do you just start with a few ideas?

Yes, I do use an outline. I haveone that I’ve adapted for my own purposes. It’s nothing too detailed, justmostly general plot points and vague chapter descriptions and then I fleshthings out as I write. I’m kind of a hybrid pantser/plotter since I like alittle structure but give myself enough leeway to explore rabbit trails alongthe way.

Is there a special place you like to write?

I mostly write at my desk in my office but on days when I take my kids to their enrichment homeschool classes, I work at the local library next to these huge floor to ceiling windows that look out over a gorgeous wooded nature area. Now that the leaves are all beautiful colors the view is especially enjoyable. Usually, the squirrels give me a great show while I work and last month there was a proliferation of butterflies dancing out there too. I put on my headphones with brown noise to block everything out and am always very productive on my library days.

What was something that surprised you in the way this book unfolded?

There were a couple of plot twists that I did not plan for that kind of showed up as I explored the characters and their journeys but I can’t give any examples because they are major spoilers!

What advice would you give a new author?              

Find a tribe. I prayed that the Lord would provide me with some great writing pals and He provided me with some of the best, most encouraging friends I’ve ever had in my life. Look for people that are honest but tactful about sharing their critiques, people that build you up but keep you grounded, and people that are invested in making sure you put out your best work even if that requires a tough conversation. Writing can be a lonely endeavor, and of course, many of us are introverts, but connecting with other writers that “get you” will make what could be a lonelycareer into a fun and mutually beneficial journey!

What project are you working on now?

Iam writing two books concurrently. I am working on the 4th book of the Citiesof Refuge Series which will release in 2020 and also on a shorter novel forGuideposts Fiction that will tell my own imagined version of the women whotouched the hem of Jesus’s garment. It’s been a challenge to write two books atonce but they are both coming along nicely. My biggest problem is that theCities of Refuge is in first person and the Guideposts is in third and I keepslipping into first person halfway through my scenes almost every single day! Inow have a note in big, bold red letters on every chapter to help remind me,but it’s still a constant struggle!

Where can we find your books?

My books are available wherever literature is sold, both in brick-and-mortar stores (don’t forget to shop independent bookstores!) and all online outlets. You can head over to www.connilyncossette.com or bakerpublishing.com for purchase links and for more information on all my novels.

Tuesday Talks – Interview with Autumn Macarthur

Autumn Macarthur, author of "Together For Christmas"

We have the wonderful Autumn Macarthur with us today. Autumn is a USA Today bestselling author of clean Christian inspirational romances with a strong touch of faith. If you love happy-ever-afters, sweet romance, and Hallmark movies, chances are you’ll enjoy her stories! Originally she is from Sydney, Australia. She now lives in a small town not far from London, England, with her husband (aka The Cat Magnet), and way too many rescue cats for their tiny house! Hello Autumn. Tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.

I grew up on my grandfather’s small holding in a semi-rural area just north of Sydney, Australia, surrounded by bushland. We lived there with Mum and Dad for my first ten years, till widowed Poppy remarried at 70 (never too late!) and sold the property to movein with his new wife. I loved it there! Hens, an orchard, a pond, bee hives, abig veggie patch, Poppy’s cut flower garden where he grew gladioli and shastadaisies to sell. And no neighbors. Bush all around. Great fun for a tomboy likeme! I admit we ran a little wild. I only wore shoes to school or the rare timeswe went out. The rest of the time, I went barefoot, despite bee stings andbindiis (nasty little prickly seeds).

Despite having to wear shoes, Iloved our little infants and primary school there, too. The same school Mumwent to, Kindergarten to Year 6. My favorite subject was reading, of course. Iwas such a fast reader I had to do reading with the class ahead of mine allthrough infants school. And the library? Oh my! All those books, opening up aworld of adventure. Absolutely my favorite places, the library at school andthe local library.

I now live in England, since what was supposed to be a one-year working holiday stretched to over twenty when I fell in love with an Englishman!

What’s your favorite genre to read and write. Who’s your favorite author?

Christian contemporary romance, totally no doubt, both to read and to write! I also love devotional non-fiction writing and journaling, but romance is my main love.

I have too many “favorite authors” to just pick one! Authors I loved to read in my teens – CS Lewis,Georgette Heyer, LM Montgomery, Essie Summers (a NZ author of vintage Harlequinromance).

Authors I love now – I have to give first place to my best author buddies and writing partners, Alexa Verdeand Marion Ueckermann. They’re both faith-filled and gifted writers. We haveseveral projects we hope to write together over the coming few years.

What age did you realize you loved books? When did you start writing?

I can’t remember NOT lovingbooks! Mum taught me to read when I was very young and books were always partof our home. I was slower starting writing. Though I started school a year ortwo ahead of my ages in reading, I was slow to develop the fine motor skillsneeded to write. I got there eventually! I wrote on and off through my life,but didn’t start seriously writing with a goal of publication till 2009, when Iwas the deer in the headlights facing an impending 50th birthday. Five yearslater, my first published book, The Wedding List, launched.

Tell us about this book.

My latest book is His Healing Touch, released as part of my Together for Christmas four-book set, with a book from each of my current main series. The set contains Believe inMe for my London-based Love in Store series, A Model Bride for my Scottish The Macleans series, Calm & Bright shift to my IdahoHuckleberry Lake series, and last His Healing Touch takes readers to Oregon and my Sweetapple Falls series. I first wrote a version of this story in July last year as a Texan spring novella and loved the challenge of revising and lengthening it with some significant changes. Far more changed than just a move across the country and a change of season! I could so relate to the characters of Lainie and Adam, a nurse and her former patient, both grieving very different losses. And I couldn’t miss the opportunity to revisit one of my most-loved secondary characters from His Father’s Son, the thirteen-year-old Josh Tanner. His faith and determination despite a life-limiting illness impacts on both their lives.

What did you learn about yourself through writing it?

I learn the same lessons as mycharacters need to with every book I write. My lesson with this book was to letgo of some deeply buried anger with God over a big loss, and to let Him heal mygrief. To trust that He always has a plan and a purpose for our greater good,even when it doesn’t feel like it.

Do you normally use an outline for the books you write, or do you just start with a few ideas?

Hmm, a bit of both. I’m a hybrid pantser/plotter, though more on the pantser side. I usually do some basic character development work – who the two main characters are, what they want, what their emotional and spiritual wounds are, what they need to overcome to bein a committed relationship. I don’t do much of an outline, though I try to have at least a vague idea what the main turning points of the story will be.

Then I start writing and it all changes as I get to know my characters better. Their real wounds and lesson soften turn out to be very different to what I initially thought, and those plot points have a bad habit of rearranging themselves, too!

Is there a special place you like to write?

Most of my books have been drafted and edited sitting on our bed! Though I can and have written pretty much everywhere possible, this is the place I gravitate to. Pillows piled up behind me, a bookcase behind me, my laptop or Kindle Fire with Bluetooth keyboard on a lap desk, a cat usually not far away.

What was something that surprised you in the way this book unfolded?

 Not so much with the main characters in this one, though several of the secondary characters surprised me by behaving in ways I hadn’t expected. Not as surprising as the story I had half drafted before the heroine revealed a BIG secret in chapter 7. LOL, so secret even I didn’t know it!

What advice would you give a new author?              

Keep writing! Most of us have “practice” stories that will never be published, and that’s okay. I have five or six full manuscripts tucked away, and a lot more partially written stories. And don’t compare your first draft to the finished stories you read. It took me far too long to realize the published story was probably fifth or sixth drafts and had been worked on by at least one editor as well as the author. I gave up on so many stories because I judged my first two or three chapters as “not good enough”. Now I know I may well cut that early chapters entirely once the draft is done, or change them significantly as needed based on feedback from my wonderful critique partner and my editor. First draft needs to be allowed to just be what it is, without judging it.

What project are you working on now?

I’m excited about my current project! The Real Thing, the final book in The Macleans series, willhopefully launch in early January. This story has been a long time coming! Ifirst started it two years ago, but got sidetracked by my Lessons fromPollyanna devotional, then had other deadlines, and at last I’m gettingback to Brodie’s story. It’s both interesting and challenging, because BrodieMaclean is such a complex and difficult character. He’s been disabled sincebirth, and his bitterness and sharp tongue mean he’s been pretty much the badguy in all three of his siblings’s lives. A man like him needs a strong anddetermined heroine, and I hope I’ve given him the right woman in feisty, fieryFlynn Ferguson.

Where can we find your books?

All my books are available for sale at Amazon, and can be seen on my Amazon author page here, https://www.amazon.com/Autumn-Macarthur/e/B00N9KRHKY/ or my website books page, here https://faithhopeandheartwarming.com/books. I also have a free taster book, a short romantic novella, that can be downloaded here https://dl.bookfunnel.com/7luq95last. Though I very much hope readers will sign up for my mailing list when they download the book, it’s not required.

Tuesday Talks – Author Interview – Janet S Grunst

Janet S. Grunst, Author

Today we have the honor of interviewing Janet Grunst. Janet is a wife, mother of two sons, and grandmother of eight who lives in the historic triangle of Virginia (Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown) with her husband. Her debut novel, A Heart Set Free was the2016 Selah Award winner for Historical Romance. A lifelong student of history, her love of writing fiction grew out of a desire to share stories that communicate the truths of the Christian faith, as well as entertain, bring inspiration, healing, and hope to the reader. Welcome Janet. Tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.

My father was a career Naval officer, so I was blessed to live several different places growing up. Living overseas gave me a greater appreciation for the freedoms and blessings we have living in America.

What’s your favorite genre to read and write. Who’s your favorite author?

I love historical fiction, but I also enjoy biographies and some non-fiction.

What age did you realize you loved books? When did you start writing?

I grew up in a family of readers. My dad always had four or five books in different genres he was reading at a time and my mom was a great reader. Reading was a favorite activity from a very early age. I started writing when I entered a Redbook Magazine contest. Though I lost the contest, I enjoyed the experience so much I began writing articles for local papers. When I was in my thirties, God put writing fiction on my heart and I prayed for Him to guide me each step of the way.

Tell us about this book.

A Heart For Freedom is the second in a series of stories taking place in Virginia before and during the Revolutionary War. They are stand-alone novels. This story begins in 1775 at the onset of the war with the theme of God’s faithfulness.

What did you learn about yourself through writing it?

I enjoy structure, planning and list-making. The first story, A Heart Set Free seemed to write itself. I understood later that’s called “seat of the pants” writing.

By the time I rewrote A Heart For Freedom, I knew more about the craft and the importance of plotting and timing. I began plotting the story, but as much as I tried, it didn’t work. My nature was to plot out the story, but all my attempts felt like I was hitting a wall. So, again I let the characters take over and write their story.

The same thing has happened as I’ve been writing the third story in the series. God is reminding me that He is a lamp unto my feet, not a headlight, so I need to remember my prayer and trust Him to lead me one step at a time. I guess that makes me a “panster” and not a plotter.

Is there a special place you like to write?

My husband and I have our desks in a large room (a family room in most homes). This is where I work, but I also keep a notepad by my bed in case ideas come to me at night.

What was something that surprised you in the way this book unfolded?

I initially wrote A Heart For Freedom as historical fiction. Rewriting it as a romance was a challenging as romances between people who are married to each other are not common. I appreciate my publisher being willing to work outside the box.

What advice would you give a new author?              

Learn all you can about the craft of writing and developing a platform. Connect with other writers and find a critique partner. Pray and persevere. Our timing is often not God’s timing.

What project are you working on now?

The final book in the series which is about the next generation and takes place toward the end of the war. Its theme is forbearance.

Where can we find your books?

At Amazon and
Barnes & Noble online

Follow Janet Gurnst on:
Twitter
Facebook 

https://JanetGrunst.com
https://colonialquills.blogspot.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Janet-Grunst-Author-385405948228216/

Tuesday Talks – Interview with Merrillee Whren

Today we have Merrillee Whren is an award-winning, USA Today bestselling author who writes inspirational romance. She is the winner of the 2003 Golden Heart Award for best inspirational romance manuscript presented by Romance Writers of America. She has also been the recipient of the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award. It’s a pleasure to have you with us today, Merrillee. Tell us a little about you and how you were raised.

I was born in Rapid City, South Dakota, on my mother’s birthday and have three younger brothers. My parents moved to Montana when I was just a toddler. We lived in Great Falls, but I remember very little about that. We moved to Billings when I was four and lived there until we moved to Huron, South Dakota when I was ten. We moved to Spokane, Washington, when I was fifteen. I attended college in South Dakota and Tennessee. When I graduated from college with a teaching degree, I got a job near Cincinnati, Ohio, where I met my husband. The somewhat nomadic life I had a youngster prepared me for life with my husband. His jobs took us from small-town Ohio to Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Chicago, and eventually to Florida where he started his own company. We moved to Arizona a few years ago to be near our granddaughters. We got to be near them for five years before their mother’s new job took them to New Jersey. We won’t be moving there. Hubby and I don’t do cold weather anymore.

Wow, that was a lot of moving! What’s your favorite genre to read and write. Who’s your favorite author?

Romance, of course. I love happy endings, and romance fits that bill. I can’t pick a favorite author. There are too many to choose from.

What age did you realize you loved books?

I’m not really sure. Probably in seventh grade when I discovered teen romances in the library.

What made you start writing this genre?

I had read a lot of romances and decided I could write one.

Tell us about this book.

HOMETOWN PROPOSAL is a story about second chances. All the books in the Kellersburg series are about second chances. I find that the majority of my books have themes of forgiveness and second chances. Right from the beginning, the hero is seeking a second chance with the heroine. He messed up their relationship before, and now that he is a Christian, he wants to show her he has changed, and the heroine has to learn to trust and forgive.

Do you normally use an outline for the books you write, or do you just start with a few ideas?

I start with a few ideas. Plotting doesn’t come naturally to my writing process. Charts and outlines scramble my brain.

Is there a special place you like to write?

I have a desk with lots of cool cubbies for my writing books and supplies. For years I’ve shared an office with my hubby, but he is almost retired and doesn’t spend much time in the office these days. We both have been self-employed and worked from home for over 15 years.

What was something that surprised you in the way this book unfolded? What character do you like best?

The biggest surprise came when the hero, who is seeking a second chance, has to extend a second chance to someone from his past, even though it might mess up the relationship he has rebuilt with the heroine.

What advice would you give a new author?

I would tell new authors to seek advice from other authors, but use this advice to find their own writing process. Not all writers work the same way. And never, never give up. I wrote for 20 years before I sold my first book to Steeple Hill Books, now Harlequin Love Inspired. Now I indie publish my books. In fact, the books in the Kellersburg series are books that were previously published by Steeple Hill Books in 2010 and 2011. I recently received the rights back to these books and have updated them with a new series title and new covers, as well as some updates on the story itself. Book 1 of the Kellersburg series, HOMETOWN PROMISE, is already available.

What project are you working on now?

I have another indie-published series, Front Porch Promises. So far I have published 5 books in the series, and I’m working on book 6, A PLACE TO FIND LOVE, while I’m waiting on the proofread from my talented editor, Dori Harrell, for the third book in the Kellersburg series, HOMETOWN DAD, which will release on December 10, 2018.

Where can we find your books?

My website has a book page where all my books are listed along with an excerpt and buy links for each book. The books are available at most online retailers.https://www.merrilleewhren.com/category/books/

You can also follow me on:

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/merrillee-whren

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2CDx11t

Tuesday Talks – Interview with Della Strickland

Today we have the pleasure of talking with Della Strickland. Della has written a number of books, including both adult and children’ genre. Welcome Della, tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.

Picture this: a rural, sunshiny area created with a small town surrounded by communities of side-by-side small farms, strung together by shady, dirt roads dissecting forests and open fields. In rural South Carolina, this was my life where everyone basically knew everyone. You couldn’t get away with anything, because your parents knew all your friends’ parents. It was a place of hard work, safety, and numerous adventures with brothers, sisters, cousins (who were like more brothers and sisters), and friends.

It was work and school during the week, long Sundays with fried chicken, homemade biscuits, and long, cool glasses of iced tea, front porch swings with chatter, love, and sometimes fights. But it was all good, and those memories are always alive and fresh, coloring my world with the gladness of those times. Notwithstanding, my life today is filled with much the same: husband, children, a grandchild, some of those same friends and family. Trying to create some of those times with my family is always fresh fun, sharing their heritage; giving my children a deeper and wider foundation of who they are.

What’s your favorite genre to read and write? Who’s your favorite author?

My very favorite genre is romance, short or long, contemporary and historical. I also like detective novels, murder mysteries involving lawyers and the law. I have a long list of favorite authors, too many to list, going way back when, as I’ve loved books all my life.

What age did you realize you loved books? When did you start writing?

I began to love books before I actually started to school. My older sisters thought it would be a hoot to teach me to read before I started school. I’ve loved books ever since, and began to cut my reading teeth on all sorts of library books all through school and beyond; even today.

Oddly enough, when I was in high school, one of my English teachers, a young woman, held in the clutch of hold-over-hippy days, told me I should pursue writing, as she thought I was good at it. I brushed it off. I only wrote seriously for fun, if you can imagine that. But later in life, married with two children, I began journaling, which led to the idea of becoming a published author.

Tell us about this book. What did you learn about yourself through writing it?

In To Love Thine Enemy, a story of fatherhood, abuse and betrayal, and a war of words to redemption and abiding love, my characters begin to discover a deeper meaning to life, expectancy, and a love that builds a bridge of hope to eternal things…salvation, joy, and the blessings of God. Once antagonists, based upon others’ hatred and lies, J. P. and LaBelle forge ahead, and deeper into their hearts, as they begin to understand the way ahead, their future, will begin when they resist hate and finally surrender to love.

I learned, through my characters taking me through their stories, that at some point in our lives we all are searching for someone to lovingly confirm us; that is, to let us know their love is unconditional, no matter our flaws and failures. This builds a bridge of trust where two lives can forge ahead and truly live and grow in the freedom that love has always longed to afford us.

Do you normally use an outline for the books you write, or do you just start with a few ideas?

I usually start with something burning in my heart, and then I get alone and start imagining. Usually, the characters appear first. No outline, just mostly a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type of thing. For best results, I go old-school, ink and notebook, as I can get into the characters and their stories better without electronics.

Is there a special place you like to write?

I like to write at my computer spot, or a nice, secluded, and cozy spot where I can be alone and not distracted.

What was something that surprised you in the way this book unfolded? What character do you like best?

After I finished writing To Love Thine Enemy, something wasn’t right. I couldn’t figure it out. The story seemed lacking in something deeper. So I began to explore my characters again. Then I discovered the soldier’s voice. When I put that voice in the right perspective, the whole book unfolded, and perspectives I had been searching for came clearly into view. I can’t explain it, lest I give the story away, but when you read To Love Thine Enemy, you will understand. Can’t say I liked one character better than the others, to be honest.

What advice would you give a new author?              

Believe in your work, and just do it: write, publish and promote! Write, no matter what you put down on paper. Write from the heart, and let it spill out into words. Then come back and read it. Write what you love, and love what you write. You will find your voice as a writer, and author. Don’t be afraid to let your voice be heard, and promote yourself and your work.

What project are you working on now and how do we find your books?

I’m still working on the Snowflakes Series. I’m working on book #5, A Witness to Love, Carolina Snowflakes with 4 more to follow.

Where can we find your books?

You can find them all at Amazon But I hope to publish them on other venues in the near future. Also, @ Author Della M Strickland on Facebook.