Tuesday Talks – Author Interview – Davalynn Spencer

Davalynn Spencer, Author of The Miracle Tree

Today we have Davalynn Spencer with us. Davalynn is a wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, She writes cowboy romance. She is an ECPA and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author and winner of the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction. And she’s fairly certain her previous career as a rodeo journalist and crime-beat reporter prepared her for life in Colorado, wrangling Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. Tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.

I grew up a California farmer’s daughter with a love for horses. That’s probably why a handsome cowboy caught my eye.

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

I like stories with laughter, danger, grace, and love, and I enjoy writing the same. My next release is contemporary, but primarily I write historical/Western. Either way, there will be a cowboy in my stories. One of my favorite authors is Joanne Bischof.

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

I wrote my first story in the sixth grade, and my teacher used it as a skit during our annual science-conservation trip. As an adult, I wrote nonfiction pieces for rodeo-related publications and worked as a crime-beat reporter several years before pursuing my dream of fiction.

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

This is a book of my heart – one that welled up from the inside and bubbled over onto my computer screen. For this “director’s cut” of an earlier version, I’ve included previously omitted scenes, redone the cover, and titled it with what I originally had in mind. Basically, I followed my heart and its vision for Laura Bell and Eli Hawthorne. At the end of the book, readers will find a brief explanation about my connection to the story.

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

Typically, my books start with a few ideas or a specific scene. I’m not much of an outline person, but once I have a sense of where I want to go, I map out the journey. It’s easier to get where you’re going if you know the way.

Is there a special place you like to write?

In the winter I write on my laptop in front of the woodstove. During the summer, I write in my office where I can see hummingbirds and deer through the window.

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

It’s hard to pick a favorite character because they’re like very close friends and I love them all. In The Miracle Tree I realized I’d shared a lot of things about myself—not the situations the heroine goes through, but the way she responds to them. The most surprising aspects of this book were the animals and how their interactions played out. I even had an argument with one of the dogs, but that’s a story for another time.

What advice would you give a new author?              

Never quit; keep writing.

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

I’m wrapping up a Christmas novella, Snow Angel.

Where can we find your books?

All my books can be found on my website at https://www.davalynnspencer.com or on my Amazon author page at https://www.amazon.com/Davalynn-Spencer/e/B002EZUEZK . A free novella can be accessed by signing up for my quarterly newsletter at http://eepurl.com/xa81D

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Talk – Interview with Anne Mateer

Anne-Mateer-author-No-Small-Storm-coast-to-coast-brides-novel

Anne Mateer is with us today. Hi Anne, tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.

I was born in Detroit, MI, but my parents moved us back to Texas, their home state when I was 4. I was raised in Ft. Worth and am the oldest of four children—three girls and a boy. My mom and dad were both trained as teachers, but for most of my growing up years my dad owned his own business and my mom ran the office for him out of our house.  My parents taught us the value of hard work and education but they also exemplified the joy of knowing Jesus.

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

My favorite genre to read and write is historical fiction, although I do enjoy reading and writing a good contemporary story as well.  Favorite author is always a hard one, partly because it could be the last best book I read and partly because there are so many authors who influenced me in my younger years. A few at the top of my list are: L.M. Montgomery, Eugenia Price, Jane Austen, and Frances Hodgson Burnett. I’ve left out many, many others!

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

I loved both reading and writing from the moment I understood that letters made words and words made stories. I was constantly in the library for something new to read. I scribbled small stories even in elementary school, but the moment that truly set me on a path toward writing happened in jr high. I remember the evening so clearly. Mom was calling me to the dinner table, but I refused to go because I needed to finish the book I was reading—yet another Eugenia Price novel. With tears streaming down my face, I finally reached the end, shut the book, and thought I want to write that kind of story when I grow up. (Eugenia Price wrote historical novels with a very clear faith element.)

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

No Small Storm is a novella set during the Great Gale of 1815. Remembrance and Simon are both determined to make a success of their life all on their own, but when the gale hits the town of Providence, Rhode Island, they both discover that rebuilding what the storm destroyed requires help. I have a huge independent streak in me as well, so writing this book reminded me that I need other people and that asking for help is not a weakness. 

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

I’ve tried to be an outliner, but it never works for me. I usually have a character in mind as well as a general situation or event and do a lot of research and daydreaming. Then I start writing. It’s not the most efficient way to do things—my revisions are usually extensive and often the finished product looks nothing like the first draft!—but it’s the way I work best.

Is there a special place you like to write?

We have recently moved into a teeny, tiny high-rise condo, so I’m still experimenting with different writing places at the moment. There is a beautiful new public library two blocks away, which is a great place to write. But then there’s the French bakery down the street, too. (Not to mention at least 4 other coffee shops within a 5-minute walk!) Coffee and pastry while I write? Yes, please!

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

I was surprised by Simon’s backstory. When I began writing, I really had no idea why he had left Ireland to come to America. Then suddenly, during his conflict with another character, his history spilled onto the page. I have so many favorite characters in this book! I love both Simon and Remembrance and also was surprised how much I enjoyed Simon’s son, Timothy.

What advice would you give a new author?              

Be patient. Writing takes practice, which means time. Writing requires revision, which takes time. Even publication of a contracted book can take many months. We all want the project in our head to reach the page and the reader ASAP, but it’s important to slow down, hone your craft, get feedback, and revise so that your finished project is more likely to have the end results you desire—connection with the reader.

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

I am working on another historical novella, this one set in 1835 Toledo, Ohio when Michigan and Ohio were both claiming Toledo belonged in their boundary. It is a Romeo and Juliet story, of sorts. My full-length novels are available from Amazon as well as other booksellers. My novellas are exclusively on Amazon.

You can also find links to my books on my website: www.annemateer.com