Tuesday Talks-Interview with Skye Hoffert

Skye Hoffert is with us today. Skye calls herself a dreamer, who always had her nose in a book and her head in the clouds. She says she’s spent more time in Narnia and Middle Earth than in reality. She makes her home in Canada, with her family of ten.  She spends her days writing, painting, and procrastinating. Helloe Skye, Welcome.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.

I am a scatterbrained introvert who is constantly hiding from people and the world in books, movies, and sketchbooks. I was homeschooled and my parents have never really been very conventional, but they raised us to love God and each other. So it all worked out somehow.

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

Fantasy is my favorite, has been since I was a kid. It changes every year, but right now it’s probably Maggie Stiefvater. I love how character focused her stories are. 

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

I think I was ten when I realized that I really loved reading. I read The Hobbit and The Chronicles of Narnia, and I was enamored with them and haven’t stopped reading since. I started writing when I was twelve. It was a fantasy story that was a messy homage of sorts, to all my favorite novels.

Tell us about this book.

Falling Snow is about a fae circus. Snow is a circus clown trying to work her way up to a tightrope walker. She is unaware of the dark reality of the world she was raised in. It’s a very different take on Snow White. There’s glamours, fae princes, and fire dancing.

What did you learn about yourself through writing it?

I learned that I always put bits of myself in each of the characters.  

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

I try to outline, but mostly I just get a vague idea. Then I usually start visualizing it a bit before I even start to write it. The visuals and aesthetic, are really important to me, and if I can’t envision my story if I feel like the reader won’t be able to either. So in a way I almost use a storyboard instead of an outline.

Is there a special place you like to write?

Not really, just anywhere comfy.

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

A lot of it surprised me; I never really know where my stories are going besides a vague idea for the end. I was surprised that this wasn’t really Snow White’s story; it ended up being more Chayse’s story. He’s the Huntsmen character. 

What advice would you give a new author?

Write for yourself.  Learn everything you can about it, and never stop trying to learn more.       

What project are you working on now?

I am working on a sequel for Falling Snow. It’s full of fae courts, politics, and treason

Where can we find your books?

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39697144-five-poisoned-apples


Tuesday Talks – Interview with Maddie Morrow

All January we will be speaking with the authors of one book: Five Poisoned Apples: A Collection of Snow White Stories. I love fairy-tails and this collection of Snow White stories is wonderful.
Maddie Morrow is one of the authors in this new collection.  Thanks for joining us Maddie. Tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.

I grew up on a farm in Nebraska. My dad grew crops and raised cattle, so we were always doing something. Stories were a huge part of my life, even then. I have two younger sisters, and we would create characters with my dad and act them out while we were out in the pasture fixing fence, or whatever the job might be. We were cowboys, indians, outlaws. My dad tells great stories so whenever we would have a long trip to take (usually to go check cows) we would beg him to tell us a story. Our favorites were always about cowboys hunting Big Foot in the mountains.

Mom got in on the fun too. When I was little, she always read to us and would bring books on car trips and we would all take turns reading until our voices wore out.

My mom stayed at home and home schooled all three of us, which was great. I loved that and the flexibility it gave me to explore all the crazy topics I was interested in. I did all kinds of stuff. Tumbling, ice skating lessons, music composition class, guitar lessons, 4-H horse shows. We lived in a very small town, so it was always exciting to find those things nearby.

My family and I are all Christians, so growing up my parents tried to keep a supply of good books around that still catered to our tastes and interests. We found out pretty quick that it is hard to find clean fantasy books (at the time. It’s getting better now). That’s one of the reasons I started writing. I took the advice to “Write the book you want to read” pretty literally.

After graduating high school I went to a two year college, then got a job at an eye doctor as a certified para optometric, which is the person who helps people pick out their glasses, takes measurements, does repairs etc.

In 2016 I married my high school crush. He works on his family’s farm/ranch, and we live 15 minutes away from where I grew up. A year later we welcomed our son to the family, I quit my job, and we’ve been trying to figure out this parenting thing ever since.

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

This is so hard to narrow down. I think I would have to say my favorite genre to read and write is probably speculative fiction, that way I can keep fantasy, dystopia, and all those other weird and fun stories. But historical comes in a close second for reading, and I’m frequently tempted to write contemporary. My favorite author is Louis L’amour. I read tons of other authors and love them dearly, but I grew up with his westerns, and there are very few that I don’t completely adore

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

Judging by the condition my old baby books are in, I’d say I realized I loved books very early. I was always reading something. Writing wasn’t far behind. I remember taping paper into cardboard squares to make my own books, and I wrote sequels to a lot of my favorite kid books. I started thinking I wanted to be a writer when I was probably 12, and actually started learning about how to write and started looking into the business side of it more in depth when I got into high school.

Tell us about this book.

My contribution to the Five Poisoned Apples collection is called Red as Blood. It’s a Snow White retelling, and follows my character, Zaig, as he is hired to assassinate the princess and then starts wrestling with guilt from his past. He decides to take matters into his own hands to save the princess and things start going horribly wrong. He has to hurry and figure out what is happening before everyone he cares about ends up dead. 

What did you learn about yourself through writing it?

I actually learned the most through the editing process, I think. This was my first real attempt at writing since before I got married and there was a huge amount of fear that my writing wasn’t any good, and that I’d still be in the same place I was as a teenager, making mistakes and not knowing how to fix them. When Red a Blood was a winner I was so shocked and excited that people liked it. Working with the team of editors at Rooglewood Press has been great. I’ve loved being able to figure out what my weaknesses are (conveying character emotion) and then actually being able to move forward and overcome those problems. I feel much more confident now with my other projects that I will be able to keep going and do the necessary work of fixing up my messy first drafts.

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

I do outline, but it is very sparse. I’m definitely a hybrid plotter/pantser. I don’t start any outline work on a story until I’ve worked out several solid ideas in my mind. Then I just jot down a list of things I know need to happen and go from there.

Is there a special place you like to write?

Anywhere I can. I do a lot of writing at my kitchen table, or else on my phone while I’m playing with my little boy.

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

There was nothing that surprised me initially when I wrote it, but I was very surprised in how the editors perceived a few things. They were so in love with a romance thread they had picked up on, that I never intended to be a romance. So that was fun to explore. And the setting came as a surprise to me. The story I submitted took place in a bland, typical fantasy world. When the publisher suggested implementing a more Victorian gas lamp type setting I loved the idea.

What advice would you give a new author?               

Know your work isn’t perfect. Some of the edits and revisions were grueling and heart wrenching, and if I had insisted that the story was fine the way it was, I would have missed out on so many awesome developments that happened. You don’t have to compromise the heart of your story, but always be flexible and honestly look at every suggestion.

What project are you working on now?

I have a YA western dystopia I’m querying at the moment, so while I’m waiting to hear back on that I’ve been writing a story under the working title of Bad Boy. It is a non-magical fantasy involving a criminal who is insulted by the king’s royal advisor, so kidnaps the man’s daughter as payback. I finished the first draft early December so my next step will be to start editing and revisions.

Where can we find your books?

Five Poisoned Apples is available on Amazon. 

And you can check out my blog maddie-morrow.blogspot.com to stay up to date on what is happening with my writing. You’ll find a newsletter signup there that will earn you a free Steampunk Beauty and the Beast novella.

Tuesday Talks – Interview with Georgiana Daniels

Today we have the wonderful opportunity of talking with Georgiana Daniels. Georgiana is the author of Shadows of Hope.

Hello Georgiana, tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.

First, I want to thank you somuch for hosting me in your corner of the internet today, Kristena! I’m sohappy to be here.

Homeschool mom, author, and all around book nerd—that pretty much sums up my life, glory to God! Of course, I dabble in a little bit of this and that, because I find so many things inlife interesting. I’m thankful for a husband who has allowed me to follow whatI feel called to do, even though it’s not always been the easy road.

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

I can’t pick just one. I love all the genres, and believe me, I’ve tried to write them all too! Except fantasy—I’mjust not that creative. In any case, picking a favorite genre or author wouldbe like trying to pick a favorite child.

Different genres affect me in completely different ways. I suppose I lean towards women’s fiction and psychological thrillers for reading. But six months from now that could change.

As for writing, my main focus now is on women’s fiction. There’s something about the freedom to explore issues that don’t necessarily have a firm right or wrong answer that’s sosatisfying to me. Murky situations are really engaging to me as a reader, andthat reaches into my writing, as well.

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

Some of my earliest memories include books! Leafing through picture books before I could read, then burying myself in books once I learned to read by myself was part of everydaylife.  It seemed pretty natural to startwriting as an extension of my love of reading.

My grandmother set up a room for me in her house, which I dubbed my office. From there, I started hammeringaway at the typewriter (yes, it was that long ago!) with stories that involvedmystery and death. Funny how I wanted to write grown up stuff when I was only12! Death on Penthouse Avenue willlive in my heart forever.

Tell us about this book.

Shadows of Hope is about a crisis pregnancy worker who discovers the client she’s taken a special interest in and vowed to help is, in fact, her husband’s pregnant formermistress. (Remember what I said about murky situations? I love them—in fictiononly, of course, not real life!)

Exploring all the different angles of this story intrigued me because I wondered what would happen to these people after they’d made a mess and they’re now all trying to do the right thing. What even is the rightthing in this predicament?

Life and love can be messy and complicated, and the very worst thing you can imagine happening can happen—even to good people. I wanted to write a heroine who faced the worst thing she could fathom and see what happened to her faith.

What did you learn about yourself through writing it?

This might be a chicken and egg situation—did I learn from the writing of the book, or did I write the book from insights gained in other situations? I really can’t tell.

The bottom line is, thetrials we face can either break our faith or make us more like Christ. In thislife we will suffer—there’s no doubt about that—but the suffering can causespiritual growth that can be gained no other way.

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

Is there a special place you like to write?

When I sit down to write a story, I know about 75% of what’s going to happen in a very solid way. But tha tlast 25% is a complete surprise. Of course, the romances I’ve written aredifferent from the women’s fiction, because they have the surefire happily everafter. Getting there is fun, though, because I’m not known for being nice to mycharacters.

I will write anywhere I can if I have ten minutes to spare! Because my schedule is a delicately balanced plate spinning act, I can’t afford to be picky. Have laptop, will travel.

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

The ending! I had no idea how it was going to turn out and I let the characters lead me to the end. The growth in Marissa, the main character, was so organic that I couldn’t end it any other way. I cried because of the strength she found in the end that Ihadn’t quite expected.

What advice would you give a new author?

Surround yourself with the right people, the right writing partners. A writing partner is so much more than a person who critiques your work. They are someone who will cheer you on, be completely honest in a loving way, help discern your next steps, pray with you, rejoice with you, and kick your butt when you’re slacking off.  

What project are you working on now?

Two different proposals are in circulation at the moment, so I guess we’re all waiting to see. LOL!

Where can we find your books?

You can find Shadowsof Hope in all the usual places—Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christianbook. All the cool kids are carrying it 😉

Tuesday Talks-Interview with Miranda J Chivers

Today we are blessed to have Miranda Chivers with us. Miranda is a retired Social Worker and former Tourism Owner/Operator. She is an avid researcher and constant student of the deeper Christian life. The twists and turns of difficult seasons in her life produced gems of God-inspired insight. She believes that our failures can be our biggest assets and provides us with the tools to teach others. Her mission is to heal hurting souls by sharing her own experiences through both fiction and non-fiction. Welcome, Miranda. Tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.

I’m a baby-boomer—born and raised by Mennonite parents in a rural area in the cold Canadian prairies. Although I was raised in a very strict religious environment, I questioned everything. The answers I received were unsatisfying. At the age of sixteen, I left my protected environment to explore the real world. I chased knowledge and spiritual meaning through low valleys of depression, chronic illness, poverty, homelessness, family dysfunction, and abuse. This colorful background shaped my personality and shifted my understanding of humanity. I learned to balance despair with an intimate connection with God.  The cornucopia of life experiences morphed my faith dramatically.

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

With my social work background, non-fiction is my first go-to for both reading and writing. I blog on various Christian themes, relationship issues, and mental health.

I’m learning to write fiction since my life reads like a fiction novel, I have lots of material to draw from.

 I love reading historical fiction and memoirs. I’ve read most of Brock and Brodie Thoene’s books.

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

I don’t remember not loving books. I had three brothers and no sisters. Living in a sexually segregated society, I wasn’t allowed to play with the boys. We had no TV and one radio. Living in a rural area without playmates, I created imaginary friendships. Fantasy became a coping skill to conquer loneliness. Books were my comfort.

At the age of eleven (1966) I wrote to a writing school asking them if I could take their course. They wrote back thanking me for the interest, but they didn’t accept students under the age of eighteen. I was crushed and spent the rest of my life hiding my writings. I published in the school newspaper in high school, briefly wrote a social column in a community newspaper, and published a few academic pieces as a social worker. I always wanted to write a book but never had the courage to take the plunge—until now.

Tell us about this book.

Unequally yoked: Staying Committed to Jesus and Your Unbelieving Spouse is a non-fiction manual for living. It addresses the common problems faced by those living with a spouse who doesn’t accept your Christian truth or believe in God the way you do. It helps the Christian spouse reframe their perspective of their non-Christian spouse’s belief system and respect those differences.

Although the book is targeted to the believing spouse, it is also helpful for the non-believer since it focuses on the importance of understanding how your spouse thinks and learns.

Reviews from both Christian believers and non-believers state the book is applicable to all relationships, regardless of faith.

What did you learn about yourself through writing it?

I was really surprised by how much I knew on the topic. Although I started with a few questions, the project grew very quickly.

I discovered I was still the little girl who likes being alone with a good book. Only this time, I was cocooned behind a desk—writing. I found the process of writing comforting. But when it came timeto let others read my work—I was a nervous wreck. I’m a private person. Sharingmy writing means sharing my soul. That’s tough for an introvert to do.

Our marriage changed both during the book writing season and after. Both the task of writing and the content of thebook helped us understand each other better. My husband was very patient duringthe process—waiting for me to come out of my cocoon. He learned to accommodatemy creative moments and irregular dinner hours.

I was worried about the impact on our marriage when my husband read the first draft. He didn’t know what I was writing, so he was surprised by the final result. The book opened the doors ofcommunication and we discovered new levels of intimacy—despite almost thirtyyears of marriage.

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

I start with a mind map. I write down rabbit trails of information. These become ideas that may or may not be useful.From there I create a rough outline. I’m a pantser and a researcher. I startwith a headline and write from that.

My digital notebook is full of ideas that might be useful in a future blog or book.

Is there a special place you like to write?

I have an office in my home that’s all mine. I don’t share this space with anyone.

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

I never planned to write this book. It came out of a mind-map experiment.

At the age of sixty, I made a commitment to myself to publish a book. But I had so many ideas, I didn’t know where to start. I listened to the experts. They said to write what you know. This topic kept coming up in my doodling, so I started expanding the rabbit trails. When they started to merge, I knew I was on to something.

I was terrified when I realized what I waswriting. What would people think of me, of us? But I couldn’t quit. I needed tofind out how it would turn out in the end. Would this book change my life, mymarriage, my family? Was I willing to risk everything for this book?

As it turned out, the ending wasn’t as dramatic as my imagination.

What advice would you give a new author?

Write every day. Find a time that works best for you and stick to it. Communicate with your family so they understand you cannot be disturbed. Turn off all devices that might interrupt your creative flow. Make writing a priority.          

What project are you working on now?

Historical fiction. My story takes place in 1937 in Germany prior to WW2 but reaches back to WW1 in Ukraine and Russia.

I’m also toying with an Early Readers adventure book on faith.

I’m hoping to publish both books in 2019.

Where can we find your books?

On Amazon. See my author’s page at https://www.amazon.com/Miranda-J.-Chivers/e/B0791MGZP7

The link for “Unequally Yoked: StayingCommitted to Jesus and Your Unbelieving Spouse” is https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0791LJYX8

Tuesday Talks- Interview with Melissa Jagears

Melissa Jagears - Author

We have Melissa Jagears with us today. Melissa is an award-winning author and a homeschooling mom who writes Christian Historical Romance into the wee hours of the night. Hi Melissa, tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.

We were quite poor. My father was often in trouble with the law and my mother worked her hardest to make sure we didn’t know how bad off we were. I enjoyedschool though, and reading, and so as long as I had something to read and workon, I was pretty happy. My parents weren’t Christians, but when we moved statesto crash at one of my grandparents’ because we were essentially homeless, theirrule was you went to church if you lived under their roof. So, my parentsstarted looking for somewhere else to live J and I enjoyed going to church.Thankfully my mother continued taking me and my sister if we wanted to go tochurch after we moved out of the grandparents’. I excelled at school, so with lotsof scholarships, I got a degree in English and taught English as a SecondLanguage to junior high and high school students for several years before Ibecame a mother. After my first year of stay-at-home momming, I needed more thanpatty-cake to keep my brain occupied and started writing. I never was a writerfrom “the moment I could pick up a crayon.” I was just an “I think I could doit someday” sort of person. When my daughter was a year old, that someday came.

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

Christian Historical Romance, no question. As to favorite author, if you’d asked me before I started writing, it’d have been Lori Wick, easy. I still have sentimental feelings for all her books, but I’ve ruined my blissful love of every book by “going behind the curtain” and learning to write. There are talented authors I certainly enjoy but no one has yet made me love everything they’ve written like Lori Wick did 20+ years ago….oh wait, I’ll say it’s Julianne Donaldson. Mainly because I loved both novels she’s written and since she’s basically stopped writing, that means I totally love all her books and the second I see the next I’ll buy it. 

What age did you realize you loved books?

My mother says since I was 18 months old, I’d sit with a book and “read” it intently. I don’t ever remember not loving books…except when I got fed up with the Nancy Drew ghostwriters for not writing books fast enough that I had for another book to come out…..and I couldn’t be bothered to find something else better to read while I had to wait, so I just quit. Cold turkey quit reading because nothing could be better than Nancy Drew….I don’t remember how old I was when that happened, but on my 13th birthday someone gaveme a Lori Wick novel….and since I got it as a gift that meant I was obligatedto read it….I haven’t stopped reading for pleasure since—though children makeit hard to read as much as I like. Seems they want to be fed on occasion.

I guess they do… lol. Tell us about this book.

I wrote this book before I got picked up by Bethany House but had shelved it because I couldn’t get the end right. Eight years later, I decided to see if my improved writing skills could help “old writer me” out of the mess. Thankfully,I believe I had enough new skills under my belt to untangle it from itsproblems.

It’s a marriage of convenience story, which is my book drug of choice and has one of my favorite heroes I’ve written, and I “moved” from Kansas to Wyoming. The initial twist that drove my creative juices was what would happen if the reason you married for convenience was suddenly no longer valid after you’d already tied the knot.

What did you learn about yourself through writing it?

Ha! How not to write too much of myself into a heroine—a lesson I have had to learn repeatedly when any of my books have a heroine that is at all similar to me. Don’t ever expect me to mirror my true self in a character unless I’m writing her as avillain—for evidently, what’s in my head is often not something a likeable/relatable heroine has going on in hers.

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

I do a ton of different outlining worksheets before I start writing now. These are worksheetsI’ve made up for myself after synthesizing information I’ve assembled from going to conferences and reading writing craft instruction, etc.

Then when I think I’ve got a story that will work after going back and forth between those worksheets, I write the story in stream of consciousness storytelling form, like “Joe is doing his banking job. In the middle of denying some crazy loon a bank loan, his love interest comes in with guns ablazing and holds up the bank. Joe is gobsmacked by the woman in high stilettos and a black satin Zorro mask who cleans out every man’s pockets in less than 5 minutes leaving lipstick kiss prints on each man’s cheek, and walks out as if she knew no one would run after her—which no one did. When Joe comes back to his senses, he pulls the silent alarm, then shakes his head at himself and calls 911.”

Sometimes the amount of words it takes to write that storytelling document is enough to fill an actual book, but it goes fast because I’m not worrying about spelling, punctuation, paragraphs, good writing, realistic dialog, nothing. I just write it to see how the story goes and where I have plot holes and pacing problems, etc. I fiddle with the story in that form until the plot works. Then I use that as a guide to write the book.

Is there a special place you like to write?

Special place, no. Special circumstances, yes. It has to be silent and I need to be reasonably sure no one will interrupt me.

What advice would you give a new author?

Don’t be eager to throw your first book up on Amazon or expect it to be salivated over by agents and editors—it’s more likely to be flat rejected and embarrass you years later that you ever acted as if it was good enough to catch anyone’s eye. Don’t be assured that your 5th book, or even your 10th, will be of the quality you’d expect of your own preferred reading material. Consider the potential years it will take for you to write multiple books—which may never see the light of day—as your “college education.” It takes at least 4 years of basically all day studying to get a degree, so don’t be disappointed or embarrassed with the time it takes for you to become a writer who can compete with your favorite authors. No sophomore in college gets frustrated and depressed that they aren’t already hired as a meteorologist, social studies teacher, dentist, or journalist—they know that if they are to be on par with their professional competition they need to keep plugging away. Now, they may learn they’re not cut out for the vocation during those years of work and might change their mind about chasing that career or major, but they don’t get frustrated that they haven’t made it after two semesters of work. As a writer, you can be thankful that, though you can go to college for writing, writing in the comfort of your own home is cheaper than college and a viable alternative.  

What project are you working on now?

I’m working on the next book in the Frontier Vows series that follows Romancing the Bride. I feel like it’s too early to tell you what it’s about, but characters from Romancing the Bride will show up again, just like they do in all my series.

Where can we find your books?

I have a handy page on my website that lets you know all the places you can find my books. http://melissajagears.com/my-books/  Some of my books are in some stores and not others for random reasons, so you can also click on a particular book’s cover and find where you can get that one. But most stores online have my books, or you can ask any brick and mortar store to order it if my book isn’t on their physical shelves.