Coming This Week to FAITH Blog – Maria Sutton!

Maria Sutton is the author of The Night Sky. Please join me on The FAITH Girls blog, this Friday for a great interview and book giveaway!

About the Author:

Maria Sutton was born in the barracks of Germany’s former Wehrmacht command center, which had been converted to house Europe’s Displaced Persons after WWII. 
In 1951, Maria, along with her Mother, Step-father, and sister immigrated to America and she has lived in the greater Denver metro area since that time.  Her book, The Night Sky:  A Journey from Dachau to Denver and Back is the culmination of her 43-year search for her biological father, who disappeared shortly after her birth in war-torn Germany.  Without knowing the spelling or his name, nor his date and place of birth, Maria was able to find him – proving that with unwavering determination, anything is possible.
Maria graduated from the University of Colorado with a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Accounting and has also attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.  She has been employed by the U. S. government in several capacities throughout her Federal career, receiving many awards for her writing and investigative skills.
The above title is available from Johnson Books, an imprint of Big Earth Publishing.  Her memoir will be translated into several languages, including German, Polish, and Ukrainian.
Maria and her family reside in Golden, Colorado. 

Author Spotlight: Debut Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor

I’m so excited to welcome my friend and fellow F.A.I.T.H. girl Jennifer Hudson Taylor to my blog today!

I am giving away a copy of her debut novel (Oh! I love the sound of that!) Highland Blessings that just released last month. Please leave a comment with your email address either here on blogger or on my FACEBOOK Profile under the article. However, for Facebook friends, I can only ship within the United States.

Without further ado, let me introduce our author in the spotlight!

Jennifer Hudson Taylor is the author of historical and contemporary Christian fiction set in Europe and the Carolinas. Her fiction has won awards in the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Genesis Contest. Her debut novel, Highland Blessings, was released May 2010. Other works have appeared in national publications, such as Guideposts, Heritage Quest Magazine, Everton’s Genealogical Publishers, and The Military Trader. Jennifer graduated from Elon University with a B.A. in Journalism. When she isn’t writing, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, genealogy, and reading. She resides with her husband and daughter in the Charlotte area of NC.

CL:     Welcome to At Split Ends, Jennifer!!

JHT:   Thank you, Christy, I’m glad to be here today.

CL:     One reason this blog is named At Split Ends is because life tends to get hectic   and I’m pulled in all sorts of directions. I want to go one way but have to go another.
I know you have managed to maintain family time, as you continue to work on your book and become published, all while holding down a full time job. Can you offer any insight or advice on how you have successfully managed this?

JHT:   I’m blessed to have a husband who does all the cooking and cleaning around the house. He takes our daughter to swim practice, for her allergy shots, picks her up from school. I couldn’t write in the evenings and on the weekends the way I do without his support and assistance. When we go on family picnics, to other people’s homes, he’s in charge of picking up the food or cooking the food we bring. He also does the grocery shopping.

I have to be disciplined, and meticulous in my note taking and outlines. Since I may have 10 minutes here, 30 minutes there, an hour or two at other times, my outlines and characterization charts help me to remember where I left off and where to pick my story back up again.

I am in the process of revising my book. I’m not alone, many of my readers are in the same boat. What techniques have you found to work for you in the writing/revision process?

It helps to write through the rough draft and not look back at it until it is done. That way once I’ve finished and I read back through from the beginning, those chapters are fresh again. Sometimes I may need to set aside a manuscript and do something else so I can have a fresh perspective.

CL:     ACFW conference is quickly approaching. I know I’m not alone in considering what editors and agents to meet and pitch… What are some things we should consider when choosing an editor or agent?

JHT:    I always tried to look at the types of manuscripts they are seeking and acquiring. If they appeared to be looking for something similar to what I write, then I would create a list. I would inquire about personalities and work ethics with other clients and authors.

And now, more about Highland Blessings.

Highland warrior Bryce MacPhearson kidnaps Akira MacKenzie on her wedding day to honor a promise he made to his dying father. When he forces Akira to wed him, hoping to end a half-century feud between their clans, she struggles to overcome her anger and resentment. . .Yet her strength in the Lord becomes a witness to Bryce. But there is a traitor in their midst . . . and murder is the ultimate weapon.
You can watch the book trailer and read the first chapter by clicking here.

CL:     Jennifer, thank you so much for being on my blog today!

JHT:   Thank you for having me!

Get This Story Out – Day 10

It’s like I took a long Blogger vacation but didn’t go anywhere.

I’ve only revised about 2 days in the last 10. I know, not very good. Deadline is July 1 for me to get my story mailed out to meet the requests I’ve received. 

I’m still debating on the contest entry of the other story. I haven’t had time to get it revised!

You don’t want to enter a sloppy piece of work into a contest. That is your chance to shine!  You want to put your best foot forward and submit the best of your story, the best hook, the best description, setting, tension, conflict, etc! After all, you wouldn’t wear your holey jeans to a job interview you really wanted would you? No! You’ll dress for success and so should your manuscript be dressed just as well.

So how have you all been doing?  I will try to post better and I do apologize for not posting so you all can show off your progress.

Also, be in tune with me next Friday. I’ll be hosting Jennifer Hudson Taylor and we’ll be talking about writerly things PLUS her DEBUT novel Highland Blessings. And guess what? It’s another contest! I’ll be giving away a copy of her book!!

Romance Novel Sales Up

Inspiring All Writers out there!

This video from ABC mentions all other romance genres but I know these facts are also true for the Inspirational market as well.
Romance Novel Sales Up

Shared via AddThis

Romance authors everywhere…. Keep doing what you’re doing because in this down and out time of our economy and world, people always want a happy ending. And that’s what Romance delivers!

A Shadow of Treason by Tricia Goyer

Book 2 in the Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War series

A Shadow of Treason

Sophie discovers that nothing is as she first imagined. When Walt, the reporter who helped her over the border, shows up again after Guernica is bombed, Sophie is given an impossible mission. She must leave behind the man she’s fallen in love with and return to the person who betrayed her. Another layer of the war in Spain is revealed as Sophie is drawn into the international espionage schemes that could turn the tide of the war and help protect the soldiers from the International Brigade … she must find a way to get a critical piece of information to Walt in time.

Click Here to read the first chapter of A Shadow of Treason.

Q and A with Tricia!

Q: A Shadow of Treason follows A Valley of Betrayal. This is the first time you’ve written books as a series instead of stand alone. Which way do you like better?

A: I love writing in series. It was great to continue with the same characters. In my stand-alone books I fell in love with these people and then I had to say good-bye after one book. It was wonderful to be able to continue on.

Q: In A Shadow of Treason Sophie must return to the person who betrayed her in an effort to help the Spanish people. It makes the book hard to put down because the reader has to know how Sophie’s heart will deal with it. Why did you decide to make this an element of the book?

A: There are very few of us who go through life without giving away a part of our hearts to someone who didn’t deserve it. Even though Sophie had the best intentions, she gave away her heart and she was hurt-not only that she must revisit those emotions.

I wanted to include this element-to delve into the topic that emotions are sometimes as big of a trap as any physical cage. Emotions are real and they guide us — even when we don’t want to admit it. Poor Sophie, not only does she have to deal with a war around her — she also has to deal with a war within herself. It’s something I’ve battled, and mostly likely others have too.

Q: There is an interesting element that arises in this book and that is Spanish gold. I know you can’t tell us what happens in this book, but can you give us a brief history of this gold?

A: Sure. When I was researching I came upon something interesting. The Spaniards, as we know, had taken much Aztec and Inca gold during the time of the conquistadors. Well, at the start of The Spanish Civil War much of this gold was still held in Madrid. In fact Spain had the fourth largest gold reserves in the world at that time. The Republican government was afraid Franco would take the city and the gold. They had to get it out of Madrid and this included transporting priceless artifacts. The element of gold does make its way into my story. It was great to include this little-known (and true!) element into my story.

Q: Another historical fact I learned about was the Nazi involvement during this time. Not only were the Germans active in Spain, but they had spy networks busy around the world. How did you find out about this?

A: I love reading tons of research books. Usually I find one little element that I dig out and turn into a plot line. This is what happened with my plot-line for the Nazi pilot, Ritter. I dug up this bit of research of Nazi involvement in Spain — and the United States — because a lot of people aren’t aware of the Nazi involvement prior to WWII. The truth is they were busy at work getting the land, information, and resources they needed far before they threatened the nations around them. The Germans knew what they wanted and how to get it. And most of the time they succeeded!

Q: A Shadow of Treason is Book Two. When will Book Three be out? Can you give us a hint of how the story continues?

A: Book Three is A Whisper of Freedom. It will be out February 2008. The characters that we love are all still in the midst of danger at the end of Book Two. Book Three continues their stories as we follow their journeys in — and (for a few) out — of Spain. It’s an exciting conclusion to the series!

Q: Wow, so we have a least one more fiction book to look forward to in the near future. Are you working on any non-fiction?

A: Yes, I have two non-fiction books that will be out the early part of 2008. Generation NeXt Marriage is a marriage book for today’s couples. It talks about our marriage role models, our struggles, and what we’re doing right as a generation. It also gives advice for holding it together.

I’ve also been privileged to work on the teen edition of Max Lucado’s book 3:16. It was a great project to work on. What an honor!


Tricia’s Bio:

Tricia Goyer has published over 300 articles for national publications such as Today’s Christian Woman, Guideposts for Kids, and Focus on the Family, and is the co-author of Meal Time Moments (Focus on the Family). She has led numerous Bible Studies, and her study notes appear in the Women of Faith Study Bible (Zondervan).

She has written seven novels for Moody Publishing:
From Dust and Ashes (2003)
Night Song (2004)
Dawn of a Thousand Nights (2005);
Arms of Deliverance (2006)
A Valley of Betrayal (2007)
A Shadow of Treason (Fall 2007)
A Whisper of Freedom (February 2008)
Night Song was awarded American Christian Fiction Writer’s 2005 Book of the Year for Best Long Historical. Dawn of a Thousand Nights won the same award in 2006.

Tricia has also written Life Interrupted: The Scoop on Being a Young Mom (Zondervan, 2004), 10 Minutes to Showtime (Thomas Nelson, 2004), and Generation NeXt Parenting (Multnomah, 2006). Life Interrupted was a 2005 Gold Medallion finalist in the Youth Category.

Also, coming out in the next year are: My Life, Unscripted (Thomas Nelson, 2007), Generation NeXt Marriage (Multnomah, Spring 2008), and 3:16-the teen version of the a book by Max Lucado (Thomas Nelson, Spring 2008).

Tricia and her husband John live with their three children in Kalispell, Montana. Tricia’s grandmother also lives with them, and Tricia volunteers mentoring teen moms and leading children’s church. Although Tricia doesn’t live on a farm, she can hit one with a rock by standing on her back porch and giving it a good throw.

Read more about Tricia by visiting her website.

When the Morning Comes by Cindy Woodsmall

In case you missed my interview with Cindy Woodsmall on F.A.I.T.H., here’s a repeat. Definitely a book you don’t want to pass up.

A year ago, I had the exciting opportunity to embark on a journey. I visited an Old Order Amish family in Pennsylvania. I was introduced to seventeen-year old Hannah and her friend Paul, a Mennonite who visited his Grandmother near Hannah’s home. I met Hannah’s parents, her sisters and brothers, and several of her friends. I even met the Bishop. This journey was a special one. I couldn’t have experienced it had I walked through the town alone. I couldn’t have become so involved with these people had I not opened the book by Cindy Woodsmall, When the Heart Cries.

Cindy’s first book left such an emotionally powerful impression on me, I couldn’t wait for the release of When the Morning Comes, Book 2 in the Sisters of the Quilt Series.

I was not disappointed. With Hannah, I traveled to Ohio. I met new people and worried for her safety. I giggled as she was introduced to, and learned to use, the items of every day living that I take for granted. Hannah adapted so well to this new way of life, my heart was a little twisted when I learned of all the things going on in Owl’s Perch with her family. This is where being a reader is fun. Especially in the literary world Cindy Woodsmall created. You can visit every family, but expect to laugh. Expect your heart strings to be pulled. And like me, you’ll look forward to Book 3, and pray, Lord willing, that Hannah will finally find the peace and happiness she’s been looking for since Book 1.

About the Book:

Her relationship with fiancé Paul Waddell in tatters, Hannah Lapp has fled her secluded Old Order Amish community in hopes of finding a new home in Ohio with her shunned aunt. Hampered by limited education and hiding her true identity, Hannah struggles to navigate the confusing world of the Englischers.

Back in Owl’s Perch, Pennsylvania, Paul is wracked with regret over his treatment of Hannah. Fearing for her safety, he tries to convince Hannah’s remaining allies–brother Luke, best friend Mary, and loyal Matthew Esh–to help search for his love. Hannah’s father, however, remains steadfastly convinced of her sinful behavior. His blindness to his family’s pain extends to her sister, Sarah, who shows signs of increasing instability.

Convinced her former life is irreparably destroyed, Hannah finds purpose and solace in life with her aunt and in a growing friendship with Martin Palmer. Will the countless opportunities in her new life persuade Hannah that her place is amongst the Englischers–or will she give in to her heart’s call to return home and face her past?

A little about Cindy
A mother of three sons and one daughter in-law, she lives in Georgia with her husband of twenty-nine years.

Her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families give her books true authenticity.

Her latest book, When the Morning Comes, hit the number-four spot on the CBA best-sellers list for two months running, coming in directly under two New York Times best-selling authors: Karen Kingsbury and Beverly Lewis.

Her debut novel, When the Heart Cries, also hit that best-sellers list. The sales of book two have been strong enough to pull her debut novel back onto the CBA best-sellers list for both of those months also.

Hi Cindy! Tell us a little about your journey to publication.

Hi, Christy!

Thanks for having me join you on your blog. It was great to see you the other night. Last year, during our Writers of Remarkable Design holiday gathering, we had four people come. This year we had twelve! If anyone lives in the northeast Georgia area, check us out:

Like a lot of writers, stories kept hounding me. Though I purposefully ignored them so that my life and goals weren’t interrupted, they became louder and louder. I prayed for them to go away, but instead, they seemed to take on a weight, as if concrete blocks had been placed on my shoulders. Desperate for relief, I decided if I took the time to write some of the stories that were going on inside my head, they’d finally leave me alone. I began writing and the stories poured forth for months. I didn’t edit, plot, or research. I also didn’t sleep or eat much, but I have written eight of the worst novel manuscripts you can imagine. And I attained my goal! Finally the stories quieted. All but one. That one story continued to beg for more attention.

I read a Christian fiction book that really touched my heart, so I sent an e-mail to the author saying how much the book meant to me and that I was interested in writing. The author responded and told me about the very first (what is now called) American Christian Fiction Writers conference that was coming up in a few months. My husband was absolutely positive I was to attend that conference. That set the wheels in motion and I’ve been greatly blessed by that organization. That’s where I met freelance editor Kathy Ide, which is a whole God story in and of itself. Long story short, I began learning how to form a story idea into a full-length novel.

What’s your daily writing schedule?

I’m usually in my home office by eight. Because I don’t want to get comfortable eating or snacking at the computer, I stop for a quick lunch and then return to work until time to be carpool mom or time for the other moms to drop my teen off at home. After my still-in-the-nest child is home, the schedule fluctuates around homework, dinner, and extracurricular needs, but I often slip back to the computer by eight in the evening and work until bedtime.

After writing professionally for several years, I found that I need at least one day when I don’t even check e-mails, and my favorite day for that is Sunday. Even in our modern culture, there is something special about Sundays and it refreshes me like a mini vacation that I can look forward to each week—church, naps, and family time. I limit my Saturday office time to five hours: ten a.m. to three p.m. and not one minute added to it. 😉 But spending the amount of time in my office that I’ve just described includes every aspect of the writing career, from answering e-mails to doing research to critiquing work for my critique partner to marketing to having prayer and Bible time.

In your writing, are you a plotter or a pantzer?

I’m a super plotter who can let go and fly by the seat of my pants. I’ve discovered that there are quite a few of us around.

Here’s how this works for me. After mulling over story ideas for weeks, I’m ready to brainstorm with my hubby and then with my critique partner and sometimes with my editor. After that I devise a character chart with the name, age, upbringing, and personality of each character. The upbringing aspect gets the most time. I need to know what the personality and beliefs of each parent was during child rearing in order to fully understand who each character is.

From there I write out what each character’s goals, motivations, and obstacles are for that novel. With that info in hand, I write a four- or five-page synopsis. Because my publishing house requires a chapter-by-chapter outline for the marketing team, I write that too. But that tends to be written as I’m writing the story, not before. If incident crossovers and timeline issues are tight, I’ll use the chapter-by-chapter document to write specifically what happens when, where, and how. If timing issues aren’t a problem, I’ll fill in the chapter-by-chapter document after I’ve written the chapters.

But even with all that documentation, if the story or characters go a different direction from the plan and I sense it’s the right thing to allow, I let creativity lead the way. I’ve found that because of all the plotting, my creative, free-flying times have a solid framework. The creativity may go in all sorts of unplanned directions, but those new paths somehow end up remaining true to the goal.

When the Morning Comes opens in the middle of the night with Hannah stepping off a train in Alliance, Ohio. How much of Hannah’s experience, at the train station, in the town, did you walk yourself?

While working on the first manuscript in the series, When the Heart Cries, my hands-on research began long before I was under contract. An Old Order Amish woman I was working with via a third party invited me to visit her home. So my youngest son and I boarded a train in Gainesville, Georgia, around midnight and began the journey to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I knew my main character in the series would take a train, so I figured this was good research.

When I began the research for When the Morning Comes, I couldn’t locate enough information about the Alliance, Ohio, depot to be able to visualize it in my head. I’d write thirty thousand words and then delete thirty thousand words and start again, only to repeat the process. After nearly two months of this, I told my husband I was going to have to see the depot in Alliance, Ohio, before I could write the book. We agreed that since I’d ridden an eighteen-hour train trip to Pennsylvania and back and was comfortable with changing trains and such, I should be able to make plans to get off in Alliance. But when I tried to get a ride from the Alliance depot to a hotel, I couldn’t find either taxi or bus service. So I chickened out and asked my husband to take a winter vacation and drive to Ohio with me.

When we arrived in Alliance, it was dark by the time we found the train depot. When we pulled up to the depot, I got out of the vehicle and had one of those experiences writers have sometimes . . .

Snow swirled through the frigid night air. The dilapidated depot stood dark, empty, and locked tight. There was no one on the premises. A blue-and-white emblem of a phone stood out as a beacon of hope to my poor character who would land there at two in the morning on a winter’s night.

But when I went to the sign, there was no phone.

The hair down the back of my neck stood on end, chills ran amuck over my body, and the first third of the book rushed through my mind, making every scene fall into place. This was where my character would land. The stark reality of it was a gift.

An elderly couple pulled into the depot and turned off their vehicle. After serious hesitation, I dared to tap on their window and ask them a few questions. My husband and son waited patiently while the couple invited me into their warm van. They were wonderful people who’d lost a son to cancer the previous year, and they came to the depot regularly just to watch the train. That couple was able to answer all sorts of questions about train arrivals and departures, the depot, and the frequency of how often and how many people actually got off a train in Alliance, Ohio at two in the morning.

Okay, I have chills, too. To have a book come together like that must be amazing! Cindy, have you received any feedback from the Amish and Mennonites regarding your books?

It has surprised me how much positive feedback I’ve received from Amish and Plain Mennonite readers. I’ve made friends, supporters, and even a technical advisor in these contacts. All of the letters have been special to me, but a few stand out. I heard from some Plain women who were in or who witnessed similar circumstances, and the story brought a sense of deeper understanding and healing.

Any last words you’d like to share with us?

If you’re an aspiring author, your greatest gift is what you feel in your heart after spending time waiting on, listening to, and walking with Him.

And I’d like to invite everyone to visit my Web site and enter the Amish Quilt contest!

Thanks, Christy!

Thank you, Cindy! What an inspiring and exciting journey.