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 Wanda Vincent

Today we have Wanda Vincent with us. Wanda is a lover of laughter and all things chocolate. 
Wanda is a prairie-raised mom of four and wife to an amazing husband. She lives in a small town in British Columbia, Canada.
Hearing children laugh has always been like music to her ears. Just as hearing a favorite song you sing along with, she can’t help laughing along with children; and as her children were growing she would make up silly things just to hear them laugh. 
Wanda is a graduate of Bethany College of Missions in Minnesota, and she has spoken at children’s settings where she has the pleasure of reading to them, she has also spoken at different women’s groups.

Welcome Wanda, tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.

I have been married 31 years to a wonderful caring husband we have two adult sons and two teenage daughters.

I was raised in a small city in Saskatchewan. I am the youngest of three children.  I remember many summers filled with the joy of camping, fishing, and burning marshmallows over the open campfire.

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


 “The unleashed joy children have is beautiful”

I enjoy writing for both children and adults.  With children’s books, I can be as a child, and enjoy laughing at silly things all the while weaving in Jesus, His love and salvation.  The unleashed joy children have is beautiful and something I believe the Lord wants us all to have.

I enjoy many genres, I tend to go through seasons of enjoying different types. My favorite author is Jan Karon.  I love her warm, endearing style.  She brings her characters through real to life experiences, gracefully bringing the Lord and His redeeming power into the situations, as well as many laughable moments along the way. She has also written children’s books my favorite one is Miss Fanny’s Hat.

Writing for adults allows me to deal with more serious non-fiction issues in life such as hardships and the trials of faith.

What age did you realize you loved books?

Before I went to Kindergarten I would line up my dolls and stuffed animals on the basement stairs and give them each a book I would then proceed to teach them, so possibly I had a love for books then. I do remember enjoying when my mom would read bedtime stories to us.

As well I remember getting my first copy of Sally Dick and Jane Reader in Grade 1 I think that may have been when I first fell in love with reading books. What drew me in were the pictures; I loved the vibrant colors and the expressions of the characters. and then, of course, the joy of being able to read the words on my own.

How did you start writing children’s books?

 The ideas just started coming to me so I finally started writing them down. I do believe it was the Lord’s prompting to get started. 
The story for Grumpy-Bumpy Bob’s Great Day was where it started.
I was lying in bed and the whole story popped into my head and would not go away so I got up and wrote it down

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


no matter how insecure I felt about calling myself a “writer” God has actually given me a gift and I need to pursue His will in it. “

The book is about a grumpy man who is in need of Jesus and joy in his life.
One day he meets up with Roly-Poly Farmer and Sunny-Funny Wife it becomes the best day of his life.
I learned that no matter how insecure I felt about calling myself a “writer” God has actually given me a gift and I need to pursue His will in it.
I also learned the importance of writing down ideas when they come to you.
 Grumpy-Bumpy Bob’s Great Day was Shortlisted for The Word Guild Awards.  I would never have imagined that would happen when I first wrote it down that late night.


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

No, I do not use an outline. In fact the idea of an outline sounds more difficult and intimidating to me than writing a story. I find it is easier to just write the ideas as they come and then organize them later.
I am what you would call a global right-brained thinker my notes can tend to be all over the page with arrows and circles connecting things.

Is there a special place you like to write?

I do not have a dedicated writing space so I usually set up my laptop and writing materials at the kitchen table near the window I do find a view of outside helps with creativity.

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


The fact that I was given the whole story at once surprised me, that has not happened again and it is what the Lord used to “kick-start” me into being more serious about writing.
I did write a few drafts but not as many as the other stories I am in the process of writing.
I think I like the store clerk the best… I am not sure why as he is only in one scene and is a silent character, he just seems funny to me. Who knows maybe there will be a future story about him?


What advice would you give a new author?

If I can do it you can too!
If you get an idea, even if it is just one or two sentence write it down. I write my ideas down in my notes app on my phone if an idea comes to me when I am out. 
Work on as many drafts as you need to until you feel like it is ready. Do your best, but do not worry if your grammar may not be completely perfect, that is what editors are for. Do not be afraid of editors, they really are there to help.
Have some trusted, kind but honest people who can read your story and give you their critiques.


What project are you working on now?

I am working on three different children’s stories right now as well as blog posts for those who may be discouraged or going through a tough time and need encouragement in their faith.

Where can we find your books and blog?     

My book can be found at :
Word Alive Press
Amazon
Anchor Distributors

My Blog posts you can find here

contact info :
wandavincentauthor@gmail.com
FaceBook

https://twitter.com/VWandafaith?lang=en

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.

 

 

Tuesday Talks – Interview with J.D. Wininger

Today I am honored to introduce J.D. Wininger. J.D. is an award-winning writer and speaker who teaches compelling lessons in faith and writes heartfelt devotionals and books to glorify God. He has written for national magazines and contributed to several books. When not working his Texas ranch, He and his wife share God’s love in surrounding communities. 

Good morning, J.D. Tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.

Born in Columbus, Indiana, a long LONG time ago, I was raised from an early age in central Florida, so that’s home for me. I was adopted into a loving Christian family at 14 years old, so that’s when my life really began to take root and grow. I retired in 2011 and my wife Diane and I started our family farm and cattle ranch in northeast Texas in 2013. We call it the Cross-Dubya ranch, as we put Christ first in everything we do here.

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

I love reading most genres. These days, it’s primarily Christian nonfiction and books on the art and science of writing, but I throw a Lee Child novel in there whenever I just want to enjoy the pleasure of reading and not really learn anything. He has a terrific writing style and I relate to his Jack Reacher character more than I would care to admit.

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

Not sure of the age, but will guess it was around five years old. My early childhood was not the most pleasant one so I learned to escape by taking books from the Bookmobile that would come to our rural community once every couple of weeks and escape to the woods to read. I loved reading about the adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, solving mysteries with Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys. And of course, I tried to live out the adventures I found in Ernest Hemingway’s stories. Around seven years old, I discovered that I wanted to do more than read about adventures; I wanted to write my own. I scavenged discarded pop bottles and redeemed them to purchase a pack of paper and a couple of pencils. That’s when my “writing career” began.  I’ve been writing ever since, but mostly in private. I say this, but in reality, I had a forty year career in the telecommunications and defense and aerospace industry as a business writer, so all my writing wasn’t exactly “private”.

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

My current Work in Progress, which I expect to have a publishing contract for soon is entitled The Chrysalis of Christ. As its subtitle indicates (I hope), Transforming Your Life in Christ, this nonfiction work focuses on a lifetime of lessons as a struggling Christian. Two-thirds of Christians today face serious doubt about their faith at some point. For those whose faith is new or underdeveloped, up to one in five will walk away from their faith altogether. Having experienced this myself, I sought to share the hard-learned lessons on how to grow and mature our faith into one that can sustain us.

Other than learning how difficult the publishing world can be to navigate successfully, the most important lesson I’ve learned through writing The Chrysalis of Christ is thankfulness. In reviewing my lifetime of learning, I was able to see all the blessings in my life and how I am so grateful to have had a loving God to help guide me closer to Him.

As for what I learned about myself in writing this book. I learned that in trusting God I was better able to trust myself.

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

I think I am a hybrid. In my business writing career, I was very much an “Outliner”. In my personal writing, I’m a pretty solid “Pantser.”  In my commercial writing endeavor, I use both skills regularly.

Is there a special place you like to write?

I do most of my actual writing in my den. However, I get most of my inspiration for my writing while sitting atop a hill on the western-most point of my ranch, facing east as a sun rises most days. It’s in this quiet place of solitude that I can collect my thoughts and prayerfully listen for guidance. 

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

While my book is nonfiction, I was surprised by the sheer number of events in my life that God made Himself present to me. Even in the midst of what I thought were my most miserable circumstances, as I looked back upon them, and saw where God brought people into my life that offered a lifeline.

What advice would you give a new author?              

First, never stop learning. Always seek opportunities to learn and improve upon your craft. Writing, whatever genre you might choose, is a combination of creativity and skill. Look for ways to increase both. A writer’s conference is a great source of inspiration. Secondly, develop a support system you can rely on and grow with. Mine includes a writers’ group that offers critique, learning and lots of encouragement. Last, don’t be afraid to ask for help. A key to growing my writing career was developing a mentoring relationship with a proven author and editor.  With her guidance, my learning curve has been greatly reduced.

Thank you for your time and the wonderful interview. I’ll be looking forward to seeing your book on Amazon and Goodreads. You can follow J.D on Twitter @JD_Wininger 

 

 

Tuesday Talks – Interview with Rachel Hauck

Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Her book, The Wedding Dress, was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times Book Reviews. She is a double RITA finalist and a Christy and Carol Award Winner. Her book, Once Upon A Prince, first in the Royal Wedding Series, was filmed for an Original Hallmark movie and aired in April 2018.  Rachel has been awarded the prestigious Career Achievement Award for her body of original work by Romantic Times Book Reviews. A member of the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers, she teaches workshops and leads worship at the annual conference. At home, she’s a wife, writer, worship leader, and works out at a local gym semi-enthusiastically. Hi Rachel, tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.

 RH: I was raised in the Midwest and the South, the second oldest of five kids but the first girl so, you know, that makes me THE oldest. Haha. Don’t tell my brother. My parents were the best, loved Jesus and their kids.

After high school, I worked my way through college and graduated from Ohio State with a degree in Journalism. I bleed scarlet and gray. My first corporate job landed me in Melbourne, FL, and I’ve been here ever since.

I’m married to the coolest dude ever and we have an ornery cat who keeps us up at night.

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

RH: I am really attracted to contemporary fiction as a reader. Stories by JoJo Moyes, Beatriz Williams, Patti Callahan Henry, Kristin Hannah and Marc Levy are go-tos for me. I don’t have a favorite author. I just love good stories.

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

 RH: I loved books from a young age. I used to read a lot as a kid. I wrote chick lit before it was chick lit by penning a story about a girl who loved New York City when I was 12.

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

 RH: The Love Letter is a split-time romance set in the upcountry of South Carolina during the Revolutionary War, and in modern-day Hollywood.

I was intrigued with the concept of unfulfilled love. You know, the one that got away. What happened if their descendants met and fell in love?

I learned some great American History writing this book and some cool insights into the movie-making world!

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

 RH: I do a lot of character work before I start then I plug those elements into a high-level plot map. I write a long “tell myself the story” synopsis and submit that to my editor for input. That process takes about a month. Then I start writing. Deadlines wait for no one or no thing.

 Is there a special place you like to write?

 RH: I have a super cool octagon office with a copula so I write up there most of the time. I also like to sit out on our back deck-which is where I am now and the passing thunder had me concerned.

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

RH: Books always surprise me the way they unfold. They never match the original idea in my head but I wrangle with it to get the story I want. However, while writing I look for themes and threads that “ping” off each other to really tie the story together. And I talk a lot to God.

What advice would you give a new author?              

RH: Stick with it! Don’t give up. Learn the craft.

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

RH: I just finished a book called The Memory House. Coming soon in 2019. 

Where can we find your books?

 RH: Find me and all my books at www.rachelhauck.com