Author Interview: Lisa Dunn

My guest today is Lisa Dunn, author of the YA Fantasy series, The Chasmaria Chronicles.

Lisa, thank you for joining me today. Tell us a little bit about yourself:

I was born in Michigan, raised in Florida, reside in South Carolina, and dream of settling down in a remote cottage on a wild, windswept shore where I can soak up vast beauty and pour it into stories that move readers’ souls. A great-aunt referred to my grandmother as “a rare mix of mystic and common sense,” and I may have inherited more than my fair share of that. Even I can’t predict whether I’ll meet a tragic situation with tears, philosophy, or bizarre humor. Truthfully, it’s usually a socially awkward combination of all three.

What is your series about?

THE CHASMARIA CHRONICLES is a trilogy that follows Grit of Berth and Stone from a village that puts self above all to a kingdom where truth, goodness, and beauty reign. In the sequel to the series, HEARKEN THE SONG OF KILCARRAIG, readers journey into a monster-infested land with two of the trilogy’s supporting characters taking the lead. HEARKEN is all about holding onto hope despite our failures and devastating circumstances.

What is the inspiration behind your books?

THE CHASMARIA CHRONICLES sought to answer the questions of what a world without love would look like and what would happen if love crashed into it.

HEARKEN THE SONG OF KILCARRAIG addresses deserts of faith—the fears, regrets, guilts, and sorrows we bury deep in our hearts and that stand in the way of hope. The bulk of the book was written during the isolation and uncertainty of the early phase of the pandemic, and I think that helped me get a little deeper into the mindset of Clan Crowley, as well as to understand Slate’s frustration with them and Bard’s love for them—in short, to grasp the reality that most of us, even if we disagree, are just doing the best we can with where we are and what we have.

Now for some questions that readers want to know the answers to:

What was the catalyst for your interest in writing?

I grew up surrounded by books. My father tucked my sisters and me into bed with impromptu tales peopled with characters from C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald and characters of his own imagining. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t playing with stories in my head. It shouldn’t have been a surprise when one actually made it onto paper, but it was a big, wonderful surprise when one, two, three, and now four made it into the hands of readers I’ve never even met.

Were there any surprises that came up as you wrote your story? 

Always. I tend to have a relatively decent idea of where a story is headed before I start, but I never fail to discover something I hadn’t anticipated in a character, whether it be a motivation, a fear, or a facet of their background or nature that changes everything. For example, when I first conceived the plot for HEARKEN, I imagined Slate as an upbeat, ambitious young man, but when I started writing in earnest, the events of the trilogy hit hard, and I realized that Slate had a lot of baggage to deal with. The same applies to Bard. I thought he was a sweet, lighthearted poet, but the boy has some serious issues. Getting to the truth of who each of these characters is was a challenge, but one I hope paid off in the end.

How did you come up with the names of your hero and/or heroine?

I get this question a lot, probably because I was very intentional in naming the characters in the trilogy. You’ll have to read the books to find out the significance of individual names, but I’ll say this much: Grit’s community waits until a baby’s first birthday to bestow a name, which the dame (mother) bases upon characteristics she’s observed in the infant. The names aren’t necessarily complimentary. In fact, some of them are downright rude. But each name winds up having a deeper meaning that offers a sense of  hope and redemption to the one carrying the name.

What does your family think of your writing?

It’s a mixed bag, actually, but I’m okay with that. I don’t expect everyone I know to read my work, and some of them haven’t. Nor do I expect everyone to enjoy my work. Most, but not all, have enjoyed my books, but I don’t take it personally if they don’t, knowing we all have our own preferences. My daughter, for example, wasn’t a fan of my Fantasy, but she is THE BIGGEST FAN of an unpublished Contemporary Young Adult story for which I’m currently seeking publication. The important thing is that every single one of my family members—husband, children, siblings, mother, in-laws, and beyond—have been supportive in different ways, granting me time to write, listening to me untangle plot and character development knots and challenging me in the process, buying books, recommending them to others, and gushing, gushing, gushing.

Who was the first person you allowed to read your completed book?

My sister has been the first reader of most of my books, chapter by chapter in the beginning. She has a knack for pointing out weaknesses and nudging me deeper into the heart of whatever story I’m writing. After having her at my side all the way through the Chasmaria trilogy, it was actually kind of terrifying to send HEARKEN into the world without  her feedback. I was enormously relieved when she remarked that it was the best book yet.

Do you have a favorite author or book?

That award is going to have to go to A SEPARATE PEACE. John Knowles has a gift for writing deep, complex, incredibly human characters, characters who tell us so much about the human condition, and each time I’ve read A SEPARATE PEACE, Knowles digs deeper into my heart.

Thank you for joining us today, Lisa.

What’s next for you as an author?

I am currently seeking a literary agent to represent the Contemporary YA novel that turned my daughter into a fan.  After that, I have a completed epistolary YA novel that deals with who we are and how we and others perceive ourselves. Finally, I’m working on a coming of age, twisted fairy tale that fans of ONCE UPON A TIME and INTO THE WOODS will love.

Before we go, where can readers find you online? 

https://lisadunnwrites.wordpress.com
https://www.facebook.com/authorlisadunnImage
https://twitter.com/AuthorLisaDunn

Meet Author Laura Thomas

It’s Wednesday, November 9 and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. With Christmas only a few weeks away, it’s a great time to pick up a Christmas-themed book to read.

Today I’m interviewing author Laura Thomas about her newly released novella, The Christmas Cabin.

Laura, thank you for joining me today. Let’s start with you telling us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a published Christian author, and I write heartwarming encouragement for your soul—especially in my romantic suspense, teen fiction, marriage, and children’s books. I’m a certified hope*writers writing coach, and a chocoholic mom and lala, married to my high school sweetheart. Originally from the UK, we live in Kelowna, British Columbia, as audacious empty-nesters.

What is your book about?

The Christmas Cabin is a Christmas novella. It’s a stand-alone spin-off from my Christian romantic suspense “Flight to Freedom” series, published by Anaiah Press.

“When Carla James flies home for the holidays at her family’s cozy Canadian cabin, she has no idea what—or who—awaits. But after five years serving at her beloved Mexican orphanage, it’s time to work through forgiveness, face her fears, and reclaim Christmas. Up-and-coming chef, Rhys Templeton, still regrets leaving a heartbroken Carla in the past and is desperate to confess his truth and make amends. But her own shocking revelation has the potential to either send him spiraling back to his destructive lifestyle or into Carla’s arms.

However, someone else is privy to Carla’s chilling secret and they’re out there watching. Waiting. Wanting. Time is running out like melting snowflakes. And now, if Carla ever wants to see another Christmas, she needs all the grace and grit she can muster to trust the one who deserted her and the One who promised never to leave.”

What was the inspiration behind The Christmas Cabin?

When I wrote The Orphan Beach, the last book in the Flight to Freedom series, I knew there were opportunities for the story to continue—and quite honestly, I missed spending time with the characters! I’ve always wanted to write a Christmas novella, especially one set in my home province of British Columbia—after all, there is nothing quite like a Canadian white Christmas. In the last book, we briefly met Carla James as she worked at the Mexican orphanage. It just so happened that she was Canadian, and the perfect character to grow into a protagonist for The Christmas Cabin, so I flew her home for the holidays. Snow shoeing is one of my favorite winter activities, and my imagination often runs wild with suspenseful possibilities when my husband and I are out on the secluded mountain trails. Maybe not so much fun for him, but fantastic fodder for my storylines!

Were there any surprises that came up as you wrote your story?

Yes. Without giving anything away, I was surprised by something Rhys told Carla. Didn’t see that coming! Yet it added a whole other layer to the complexity of his situation and works wonderfully well. I also had no idea the solution to a specific problem would involve certain characters form a previous book. This is a stand-alone novella, but I think readers of my Flight to Freedom series will especially enjoy the ending!

The next question is one I always like to know the answers to. How did you come up with the names of your hero and/or heroine?

Carla was a secondary character in the previous book, and I chose to add the surname “James” after one of my sons. And then Rhys is named after one of my Welsh nephews—he absolutely loves Christmas and I decided it would be perfect to use his name for this book!

Let’s talk about your writing process.

Are you a night owl or morning person?

How I wish I were one or the other… but I am neither! I’ve never been able to burn the midnight oil as I enjoy my sleep too much, and I really do try to be a morning person, as much as I loathe the alarm. Weekdays, it wakes me at 6:30AM, which feels late when my “morning lark” husband has already been up all cheery and full of life for an hour, at least! Resuscitation by way of a cappuccino, time reading, and a shower help me on my way—although my best creative writing happens in the afternoon. We all have our quirks, right?

Are you a plotter or a panster?

I’m a plotter—but I always leave plenty of wriggle room. So, before I begin writing my manuscript, I like to have a question or theme in mind, and a decent plotline with broad strokes on where I see each chapter heading. I need the ending to be secured and I like to do a pretty deep dive with my main characters. However, I am always open to hearing from my characters as we go, and the storyline will definitely take some unexpected twists and turns… that’s when writing is so much fun!

If you didn’t write books, what would you do for a living?

This is such a good question—I have been stewing over it for a couple of days. I cannot imagine not writing. I started later in life and it’s become such a vital part of who I am. I’ve always adored books and I love story. Perhaps in another life, I would have gone the dancing or acting route to tell stories in other forms… but I am truly grateful to be doing what I was made to do: writing, coaching other writers, and reading a plethora of books!

Your novella, The Christmas Cabin, sounds like a wonderful read! Romance, suspense and Christmas, a great combination.

What’s next for you as an author?

Other than several on-going writing projects, I currently have my literary agent working to place my latest Christian romantic suspense novel, Captured in Frame. It’s a brand-new series set in the English countryside, so I’m going back to my roots!

Where can readers find you online?

My books, blog, writing coaching, monthly newsletter, and all my social media links can be found on my website:

www.laurathomasauthor.com

Meet Author Andrea Jo Rodgers

My guest today is Andrea Jo Rodgers, author of Heaven-Sent Miracles and Rescues, true stories that Andrea has seen from the frontlines in her work as a volunteer EMT.

Andrea, thank you for being my guest today. Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I’m happily married and feel blessed to be the mother of teenage twins as well as two “fur babies” (Dachshund and Shih Tzu rescues). I love working part-time as a physical therapist in a hospital-based rehabilitation center. I’ve been a volunteer emergency medical technician on my local first aid and rescue squad for thirty-five years and have answered over 9,000 first aid and fire calls. This is even more special now because my twins recently joined too, so I get to spend quality time with them while we’re helping others. I enjoy writing books about my experiences as a volunteer EMT, some of which carry over into my job as a PT. I’ve also written two middle grade action-adventure novels. I enjoy watching my children play sports, day trips, reading, walking, playing with my dogs, and spending time with my husband and friends.

It sounds like you have a very full and fulfilling life. Let’s talk about your book, Heaven-Sent Miracles and Rescues. What is your book about?

Do You Believe in Miracles?

For more than three decades, Andrea Jo Rodgers has served her small-town community as a volunteer EMT. Over the years, the incredible events she’s witnessed have taught her that behind the scenes of every dark and dire situation waits a God capable of doing the impossible to help, protect, and save those He loves.

In Heaven-Sent Miracles and Rescues, Andrea shares tales of amazing and supernatural occurrences she’s seen from the frontline. From breathtaking water recoveries, to heroic battles against housefires, to astonishing interventions against medical crises, Andrea’s accounts of emergency rescues will have you reading at the edge of your seat while reassuring you of God’s awe-inspiring power over every circumstance.

Whether you’re searching for affirmation that miracles still happen, or you simply love reading exciting and inspiring true stories, Heaven-Sent Miracles and Rescues will leave you uplifted, encouraged, and on the lookout for God’s divine handiwork in your own day-to-day life.

This book sounds like something I would enjoy reading. I love to read true and inspiring stories.

What inspired you to write Heave-Sent Miracles and Rescues?

Years ago, when my son was nearly three, we were in a life-threatening accident in which our elevator crashed and filled with water. It was truly a miracle we survived. That event made me step back and take a close look at my life. I thought about my relationships with God, my family, and my friends.

I also thought about my goals and aspirations. One of my lifelong dreams was to write a book. The accident inspired me to pen my first book, At Heaven’s Edge. I’ve been writing ever since. Heaven-Sent Miracles and Rescues is my fourth book about my inspirational experiences as a volunteer EMT.

What was the catalyst for your interest in writing?

I recall being a voracious reader by first grade. Even before I could read, I was fascinated by picture books. I wrote my first story when I was in the first grade. It was about how my mother rescued a baby duck from our town’s lake. So, I suppose you could say writing about rescues has been in my blood from a very young age. As I got older, life got busy, and I put my pen down for many years. The elevator accident re-ignited my passion for writing.

Do you have a day job? If so, how do you find time in your day to write?

When I’m not writing, I work part-time as a physical therapist. I specialize in women’s health, urinary incontinence, lymphedema, osteoporosis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Most of the time, I work in an outpatient facility, but sometimes I work in the hospital, treating everything from trauma patients to tiny infants in the neonatal intensive care unit. Volunteering with the rescue squad also keeps me quite busy, as I answer about 300 calls per year.

Over the past few years, I spent a great deal of time creating a 13-hour continuing education course for rehabilitation professionals about handling medical emergencies in the workplace. I’ve enjoyed teaching it, and soon I’ll be recording it for a company that specializes in online learning. It’s challenging to find time to write, to say the least. I write a few minutes here and there, so I always make sure to have a pen and paper with me in case I have any downtime. I’ve written in waiting rooms, airports, and even at sporting events.

What does your family think of your writing?

I’m fortunate to have a family that supports my writing career. My husband Rick is my “tech support.” He designs and updates my website www.andreajorodgers.com and also creates my bookmarks. Rick and my sister proofread my books, and my children enjoy reading them.

What’s next for you as an author?

I’m currently working on a fifth “heaven” book that includes more inspirational experiences as a volunteer EMT with my rescue squad as well as true stories about guardian angels and near-death experiences.

Thank you for joining me today, Andrea, and sharing details about your inspiring book. Before we go, where can readers find you online?

Readers can find out more about me at my website, www.andreajorodgers.com. It also includes information about my books and links to interviews. They can also find me on Facebook: : https://www.facebook.com/AndreaJoRodgers/ and can learn more  about my experiences  from my latest guest appearance on “At Home with Jim and Joy” earlier this year. https://bit.ly/3TTAwnN

Meet the Author: Suzie Waltner

Good Morning. My guest today is Suzie Waltner, author of Midnight Blue, a Christian romance.

Suzie, thank you for being my guest today. Let’s start with you telling us a little bit about yourself.

I am a busy single gal (although, I’m probably past the age where I can get away with “gal,” LOL!) who writes in her free time. During the day I work in the mortgage division of a large bank. I love my church and my group of friends, dog sit for a few people, and love watching my Predators (National Hockey League) play.

What is Midnight Blue about?

Ten years after Jake Turnquist broke up with his high school sweetheart in order to pursue his music career, he crosses paths with her again. Scarlett Sykes now has a daughter, but Jake is interested in renewing a friendship with her. What he doesn’t know is that Harmony is his daughter.

When he discovers the truth, Jake scrambles to orchestrate a way to spend time with Scarlett and Harmony—the family he’s always wanted but never knew he had. He once gave Scarlett up to pursue his music. What will he have to surrender to win her back?

So tell us, Suzie, what was the catalyst for your interest in writing?

I don’t have the typical story where I loved writing from a young age. I did write, but I didn’t really think much of it. In fact, I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian up until my second year of college when I passed out during a sheep surgery. It was after that little episode I decided that I wasn’t cut out for the vet life.

Long story short, I ended up taking a lot of detours in college and ended up with an English degree, but I wanted to be an editor, not a writer (although I did take some creative writing classes).

Fast forward several years and a co-worker had posted something on Facebook about NaNoWriMo. When I saw her at work the next week, I told her I’d always wanted to give it a try, but it was usually halfway into November when I saw people talking about it. This particular year, I saw it in October. My co-worker encouraged me to do it, and I did. And then I kept writing and discovered I enjoyed it.

Do you have a day job? If so, how do you find time in your day to write?

I do have a 40-hour-a-week day job, so most of my writing is done on the weekends when I can dedicate large chunks of time to my stories. I love writing sprints, but they’re usually not running when I am writing so I will find a pre-recorded video or two on YouTube because it makes me feel like I’m writing with others plus those sprints provide for short breaks. Isn’t it funny the mind games we can play with ourselves to get something done?

Who was your favorite character to create?

Harmony (Jake and Scarlett’s daughter) was a fun addition to the story. It’s through her we see how differently Jake and Scarlett react to their daughter. She also adds some fun elements because kids are unpredictable.

Are you a plotter or a panster?

I am 100% a pantser. I’ve tried to plot a few times, but the characters refuse to follow my outline, so I’ve learned to let them steer the story. The one downside of being a pantser is that edits are more intense since I don’t have all the plot points worked out at the beginning of the book.

What does your family think of your writing?

My family is extremely supportive of my writing. I am the only one of my siblings (one brother and one sister) who is a reader, but both of them order my books. And my parents are always recommending my books to others or picking up another copy to give away.

Are you part of a writing group?

Yes, I am part of several writing groups. I belong to a couple of the big organizations like ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and Faith, Hope, and Love Christian Writers. I am also involved on more local levels as the current president of the ACFW Middle Tennessee chapter and I have two critique partners I work with weekly. I also love encouraging people who are interested in writing or new to it.

What’s next for you as an author?

I am currently writing book three in the Love in Color series while awaiting edits for book two. Readers are introduced to the entire band in Midnight Blue, and each member is getting their own story over the four-book series.

Thank you for being my guest today, Suzie.

Before we go, where can readers find you online?

Website: https://suziewaltner.com

Newsletter: https://suziewaltner.com/join-my-newsletter/

Facebook: https://facebook.com/suziewaltnerwrites

Instagram: https://instagram.com/suziewaltner

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nashpredsfan

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/suzie-waltner

Buy Link:

Meet the Author: Rachelle Paige Campbell

My guest today is Rachelle Paige Campbell, author of Her One in a Million, a Christian romance. Rachelle, thank you for joining me today. Let’s start with you telling us a little bit about yourself.

I write contemporary romance novels filled with heart and hope. I believe love and laughter can change lives, and every story needs a happily ever after. I earned my masters’ degree in Fine and Decorative Arts from the Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London. I love to include Art History elements in my novels so I have an excuse to research. This book was a great opportunity for that!

What is Her One in a Million about?

While renovating a historic mansion, Samantha Holt discovers three hidden vases. If she sells the pottery with her family’s auction business, she can bring in a commission for her parents and help get funds for the mansion’s restoration. She calls an expert from Chicago, Zach Reynolds, for his opinion and is shocked that he wants to take the pieces back to the city. They both need the pottery for professional reasons, but the situation is complicated by their growing admiration and feelings for each other.

That’s a great story, Rachelle. Now for some questions about you:

Are you a night owl or morning person?

I am a morning person through and through! I love to get up and get going every day. My kids are early risers, too. This was an added complication for getting words in when they were little. Now that they are both in school, however, it’s perfect. After they are out the door, I can focus on my projects for a few hours and get a lot of dedicated time for writing in during the week.

Do you reward yourself when a book is finished? If so, what is your favorite treat?

I don’t always reward myself when a book is finished because sometimes I don’t have time or opportunity. But my favorite treat is a nice manicure. It’s lovely to get a hand massage and a new coat of nail polish after my fingers have been hard at work typing a story.

Were there any surprises that came up as you wrote your story?

I love historical romance and historical fiction. I have read a lot of both and really enjoy the genre. When I first started writing, I attempted a Regency era novel but the book fell flat. My writer voice is too modern. I had fun on this project creating a historical journal. I finally had a chance to incorporate a tribute to the genre but in a way that was genuine to the story. It was a wonderful surprise to me as I started crafting the novel.

Who was the first person you allowed to read your completed book?

The first people to read any of my completed books are my writing friends. Known as the Panera Supper Club, from the pre-Covid days when we would meet at Panera and write, I am blessed to be part of a very supportive group of incredibly talented, hard-working, and kind authors. We write different genres but are cheerleaders for each other’s work.

What book or author has inspired you the most?

I loved the Anne of Green Gables books so much as a kid. I continue to be inspired by Anne. I think I’ve been trying to be Anne Shirley my entire life. What I’ve always loved most is that she makes mistakes, takes responsibility, and learns from the experience.

What’s next for you as an author?

The fourth book in the Home to Harmony series is coming! I’m not sure when, yet, but it’s a Christmas book and ties the series together in an unexpected way. I’m really excited to share it with readers. I have loved writing these books and am so appreciative of the positive response.

Thank you for being my guest today, Rachelle. Before we go, where can readers find out more about you and your books?

Bookbub: https://bit.ly/3jKH9s0

Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/3KRvKCy

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachellepaigebooks/

Newsletter: eepurl.com/dEjzZz

Website: https://rachellepaigecampbell.com/

Buy links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3U9lqep

Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/3U7d6f7

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3qB2yr1

Apple iBooks: https://apple.co/3BF8xl7