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.

Thanks For Your Patience

I want to take a moment to thank all my readers for their patience the last few weeks.  I have had a few issues with my site that hit at a very inconvenient time; when I was going out of town.

Unfortunately, this issue has led to the loss of many on my subscriber list. If you have been wiped off, I want to send my deepest apologies and ask that you resubscribe.

I ask all my loyal readers to check and make sure you are still subscribed. If you find that you need to re-enroll, please do so.  I am so sorry for the need to do this but I am very happy you are here and willing to put up with me through this issue. Please work with me and let me know what needs to be resolved and changed. If there is a problem, go to the communication tab and send me a note.

Thank you all again. Without all my wonderful readers, this site would have no purpose.  You are the reason I’m here!

Friday Fiction – The Smell of Hot Coffee

The pungent aroma of fresh coffee drifted through my dreams and nudged me awake. Willing myself to keep dreaming, I ignored the hot cup I knew my husband had set on the bedside table.

I didn’t want to get up. I wasn’t sure why. I just knew I didn’t.

I was having one of those amazing dreams that make life around you pale in comparison. I loved those dreams.

But the morning noises around me were attacking my peace, forcing me into reality. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. The sounds and smells of love are so enticing. They were wooing me and even my sleepy eyes began to smile.

I heard him topping off my hot cup and I smelt the fresh grounds. I felt the mattress dimple as he sat down next to my slumbering form and softly rub my arm, coaxing me awake.

This was my favorite time of day; feeling his love when he didn’t know I was awake enough to understand.

As my conscientiousness pushed its way through, I pressed my eyes shut. “Not yet.” I thought. “Just a little longer.”

But the cold morning air demanded attention. He had forgotten to turn on the heater this morning. That wasn’t like him.

Fully awake now, the cold room was heavy with loss.

The hot coffee my love had brought me each morning for over fifty years, was missing… and so was he.

I didn’t like the mornings anymore.

I pressed back the tears and tried without success to smell the coffee once more.

 

 

 

No Good Use for Fleas

There seems to be no good use for fleas, but God made them; Why?

“Your cat has fleas.” My son stated last week as we were on our way out to dinner.

“No.” I protested. “He’s never had fleas. We use the most expensive flea drops we can buy. If he has fleas, I’ll be very upset. That stuff isn’t cheap!”

Fleas are a reality.

Well, guess what! Our cat does have fleas, and I couldn’t be more upset.
We really have been diligent in making sure our kitty had been given all of the right care:

  • I bought the top name, over-the-counter flea drops to put on his neck.
  • I marked the calendar to make sure we didn’t go even one day over the flea treatment’s 30 day regimen.
  • I followed the flea treatment instructions to the letter.
  • I hold him still, on my lap, and I make sure the required time had passed, allowing for time for the drops to sink in before letting him run around.

There was nothing more I could have done. He has never had fleas before, as far as I know. We adopted him, so while we aren’t 100 percent sure of his age, we’ve had him for three flea-free years now; this is the first time, since he’s been ours, that he’s had fleas.

In a perfect world…

I think, if there was one pest I could rid off the face of the Earth, it would be the flea. I don’t think they have even one redeeming quality. I even spent over an hour googling about “fleas”, trying to find one good reason for fleas.

I found nothing! The closest I found for a good reason for fleas was that they help diseases and bacteria travel from place to place, and may help with population control of mammals through the passing on of plagues and diseases, and weakening animals.

(Doesn’t that sound just wonderful?)

It’s all in the numbers.

In my research, I also found out that two adult fleas can produce over 2 trillion descendants. TRILLION! Do you know how big the number one trillion is?

If you counted one number per second, continuously, 24 hours per day, it would take you approximately 31,709.79 years to reach one trillion.

That’s a lot of fleas!

So why did God create fleas? I think it must have been just right, for me… I needed something to write about today… lol.

Seriously, though, I do wonder sometimes, why God has done (or allowed) some of those things that He has, on this earth.

There are times when we are so careful to do things just right. We take out our insurance policies and put our money in savings. We follow the instructions and the rules. But often, that just isn’t enough to keep our little world  quite perfect.

While we drive on our side of the road, we may still see an oncoming truck cross over the center line, heading straight for us. We break things, spill things, destroy things and call them accidents. We are imperfect people, living in an imperfect world.

Why does God allow these pains? The best answer I’ve found for this question, came from Billy Graham; He was once asked:

If Christianity is valid, why is there so much evil in the world?

To this, Mr. Graham replied with a question of his own:

With so much soap, why are there so many dirty people in the world? Christianity is like soap; it has to be personally applied, for it to work.”

I’m still not sure there are any good reasons for fleas.  I know that if it were my choice, the world would be rid of them, right now.  I’m so thankful that God can use even a disgusting flea, to remind me of Him.
Now, I think I need to call the vet, and to get my cat on the flea pill!

Tuesday Talks – Another Interview with Chloe S. Flanagan

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Today we have the wonderful privilege of having Chloe S. Flanagan back with us to tell us a little about herself and her new book that is fresh off the press.

Chloe is an author, technical writer, blogger, and graduate of New York University. She enjoys exploring the Christian walk frankly and thoughtfully in her fiction and in her blog, The Candid Corinthian. When she’s not writing, Chloe loves music, travel, reading books in all genres, and spending time with family. Welcome back, Chloe. Tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.

First off, I want to thank you for having me on the blog today. I’m thrilled to be chatting with you. You always have great interviews and content that really help build up the Christian literature community.

So I guess I like to surround myself with words! I’m a bookworm with a To-Be-Read pile the size of Mount Everest, a blogger, indie author, and technical writer.

I was born in Oklahoma and live there now, but I’ve lived in several different places. When I was growing up, my family moved around the country quite a bit, and we lived in Honolulu, Atlanta, and on the Gulf Coast. I went to college in New York City.

Living in all those places allowed me to observe and interact with many different people, which has been a tremendous blessing.

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

My favorite genre to read is Christian Fiction, especially historical and contemporary suspense. So far, I’ve written contemporary Christian Fiction with a touch of suspense, but I would like to branch out into historical eventually.

Oh boy, the favorite author question…so tough! In historical, I love Sarah Sundin’s World War II adventures and Jen Turano’s Gilded Age gems. In suspense, I really like Heather Gilbert and CC Warrens. I could name so many more, though.

What age did you realize you loved books?

That was probably when I was nine years old. My fourth-grade elementary school had an incentive-based reading program, where you earned points for reading books. Although I wanted points, I also began to see how much fun it was to enter another world through a book. I read all the time that year, even when standing in the cafeteria line!

What made you start writing this genre?

I knew I wanted to write Christian Fiction because I wanted to incorporate themes of God’s grace and love in my fiction. I chose to have suspenseful elements in my first books because I love stories with a hint of danger where characters are trying to puzzle out something.

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

A Time For Every Matter is a romantic suspense novel. The main character, “Mad” Pine, is a former New York City finance executive quietly living in a small town when she gets an unexpected visit from her estranged nephew. When the boy witnesses a murder, she has to work with her friends and a compelling businessman, Hiram MacArthur, to keep him safe. Mad soon learns it’s never too late for God to reveal a new plan for her life.

Two of my main characters are middle-aged, and they spend a lot of time reflecting on things from their past and how it impacts them in the present. Writing about that reflection process made me think about my own past experiences more and how they shaped my personality. I also thought more about how God redeems those experiences—good or bad—for His own purposes.

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

I have to admit, I’m not naturally organized, but I like to begin with some form of an outline. Even if I stray from the original plan, having the outline helps me adhere to an organized story structure.

Is there a special place you like to write?

I love writing in the public library. I said I liked to surround myself with words, right? That’s a great place to do it. Also, if I get stuck, it’s fun to look around and see what types of things the people around me are reading.

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

I was surprised by how the challenges each character faced helped them connect and relate to one another. In a way, it’s similar to how things can be in real life. Sometimes we let our problems alienate us from other people because we are so focused on our own lives and the struggles. But sometimes God uses those problems to teach us empathy so we can serve other people.

My favorite character is the main character, Mad. She is a bit eccentric, but she loves God and cares about others.

What advice would you give a new author?              

First, read as much as you can. Find some current books to read and try to learn a little bit about the authors. Part of what encouraged me to start writing was following my favorite authors on social media and through their newsletters. Seeing their author journeys made my goal of writing my own books seem more accessible and realistic.

Second, find community. Look for groups in person or online for writers and readers in your given genre, and really focus on being a valuable participant in those groups. Through online activities, I’ve encountered so many talented, wonderful people in the Christian Fiction community and the independent author community. But it’s definitely a two-way street. If I show up just for self-promotion or personal edification, it’s not really valuable. Community happens for me when I encourage and spread the word about other authors and engage in dialogue with other readers.

If God has put it on your heart to write, He will accompany you every step of the way. One way I think He does this is to lead you to learn from others and to support them in their own journeys.

What project are you working on now?

Well, A Time For Every Matter is the second book in my An Offer of Grace Series, so I’m working on the third and final book. I’m also working on some new reflections for my blog, The Candid Corinthian.

Where can we find your books?

My two books are available on Amazon as ebooks and paperbacks.

A Time for Every Matter:

Amazon Author Page: 

Thank you so much for this interview. It was wonderful to have you back and telling us about your new book.

Be sure to follow Chloe S. Flanagan on her Facebook and Twitter page.