Modern Jo March is proud to welcome back Linda Ellen for a chat about her upcoming release, A Bride for Finn, which is the 5th book in the new Proxy Brides series. The book releases this week, on November 15th, so be sure to pre-order/order it over on Amazon.
MJM: The Proxy Brides is a multi author series. How many authors are involved in this series?
Linda: There are ten.
MJM: A Bride for Finn will be your second Western Historical Fiction novel. You have 7 Historical Fiction novels published. Finn will be your 8th. You currently have two solo series under your belt, but The Proxy Brides will be your first foray into a multi author series. How did you get involved in this series? Did you find it daunting at first?
Linda: Hmm, good questions. How I got involved was my good friend and author, Barb Goss, recommended me to the author who had the original idea for a proxy brides series and wanted to get a group of authors together. As for was it daunting at first – YES! LOL. For me, I was actually going through a down period. I’d released my most recent book, Sweet Love at Honey Landing, but found myself without the necessary funds to adequately advertise it, so it didn’t do as well as I hoped. The disappointment of that boomeranged me into not having written a thing for months. When we had the initial author meeting for the proxy bride series, I felt rather intimidated and even wondered whether I could get the project done on time. We met in June (online video chat) and I committed to writing and completing everything for my book by November. It seemed impossible, lol. I wondered if I could come up with a realistic reason that someone would agree to become a proxy bride to a man they’ve never even met in person, and make the story work. BUT—I had a planning talk with my number one helper and fan, my hubby Steve, and he came up with some great ideas that really sparked my imagination. He was on board with it and even excited about it from the get go. In the space of about 90 minutes, we had the plot and even had decided on the character’s names.
MJM: Wow that does seem like a large undertaking!
The proxy bride theme of this new series is super interesting. I’d actually never heard of marrying by proxy until this book.
Linda: Neither had I!
MJM: Tell me, how did that whole theme come about? Who came up with it?
Linda: The original idea was the brainchild of Christine Sterling, who is a wonderful author and a multi-talented woman. She said she wanted to capitalize on the popularity of mail-order-brides, but with a new twist, something that readers hadn’t seen before. The proxy bride angle came to her and she reached out to several authors she knew to see if they had any interest and it took off from there. We were under strict secrecy at first not to let the cat out of the bag, lol.
One thing that attracted me to the project at first was the fact that the books in the series don’t have to piggyback off one another. The basic rules were that the stories had to, of course, involve a proxy marriage—that’s the glue that makes it a series. The year had to be 1865-1875, post-civil war through reconstruction. Each bride could be from where ever we wanted, but the man had to be west of the Mississippi. In each story, the bride would be in a situation of some sort and the only way to get out of the situation is to get married. Unfortunately, the intended groom is somewhere else, so the bride gets married to him via proxy, with someone else standing in for him. The license is signed, and the bride heads off to meet her legal husband. The real story then begins as two people who have never met, but yet are legally husband and wife, do indeed fall in love and have their HEA. Though these romances are not classified as Christian Romances (meaning under the Amazon category), we could put Christian elements within the romance. We agreed for the stories to be clean with no graphic sex, violence or profanity.
MJM: Wow, that’s interesting. I always like to learn about how books come to life.
What was the process of developing this series like? Did you all have a forum where you worked together?
Linda: After that first meeting, in June, Christine set up a private facebook group and it includes at least a dozen files where we kept track of everything from the names we are using, places, years, etc., plus posted and chatted each day with one another, encouraged one another, and kept up with each book as it developed. All of us were smitten with the project from day one. Christine tapped Virginia McKevitt to create the covers (and I think she did an AWESOME job!) and that was completed quickly, within the first few weeks. Virginia picked out several dozen images of models in period clothing that we could choose from for our heroine. By the way, there will be a “Round Two” of stories, with each author writing a sequel for their own book, and we already have the covers completed to those, too! Mine, by the way, will be “A Bride for Sam”.
MJM: That’s great! I loved Sam in A Bride For Finn, so I’m glad that he’ll be getting his own story. I also think the covers are pretty, I love them and they all match well each other.
What was the inspiration for Finn’s story?
Linda: Well, Christine provided us with a list of possible scenarios to work from. I read through them and one really spoke to me and seemed plausible--A bride is seeking a new opportunity and the groom wants to secure her in marriage before sending for her (maybe he got burned), so that got my wheels spinning. I read that to my husband and he immediately had ideas. I knew I wanted my girl to be in Louisville (where I base all of my stories, at least in part) and I then sifted through the different states out west and picked Nebraska. One by one, the details seemed to just slide in place. For the names of my characters – he is Finn (short for Phineas) Maynard and she is Charise Willoughby. Finn is the name of my newest grandbaby and Charise is the daughter of my boss and a dear friend.
MJM: I was honored to be in on the ground floor of this book as your beta reader and enjoyed seeing it take form. I was wondering if you could tell us anything about Sam’s story? ;)
Linda: Thanks so much Liz! You are a fantastic beta and I'm so glad I have you on my team!! As for Sam's story, let's say that as he sees his brother and his new proxy bride fall in love and they are so happy together, it really makes him long for his own bride. He decides to go the route of Finn and put in a request for a mail order bride, but as the time passes, he can't find anyone he feels a connection with. He keeps thinking about a girl he met once, but she is engaged to be married and he figures she's off limits.
Meanwhile, the girl he's thinking about gets jilted by her fiance, and then her life becomes in danger, so she reaches out for help. At that point, it will be Sam to the rescue! The only way he can rescue her quickly is, you guessed it, marry her by proxy. Hehe. :)
I want to thank Linda for taking time out of her busy schedule to talk with me. A Bride for Finn is one you won't want to miss. Too often Historical Romance books fall into the formulaic plotlines revolving around the main characters either having a misunderstanding and walking away from the relationship, only to come together in the end or enduring one calamity after another to the point of being laughable. I appreciate that Linda doesn’t fall into that pitfall and instead, creates characters that stick together through the rough patches. A Bride For Finn is fresh, lovable, and sure to be a hit. Preorder it HERE!
I am very pleased to welcome Nicola Mar to Modern Jo March. Nicola is an author, poet, and essayist. She is the author of five books, including three poetry collections, and several short stories. Her latest release is Roses by Moonlight, a wonderful collection of poems and prose that was released in June.
MJM: You were born and raised in the Caribbean. I would imagine your surroundings had an impact on your writing, or at the very least, your early writings. Would that be a fair assumption?
Nicola: Absolutely. In fact, my first novel, A Red Tale, is a young adult fantasy about a girl who lived in the Caribbean. Most of my poetry is also pulled from images and memories growing up on St. Maarten. For example, I write about the ocean, sun, stars, and just feelings of peace and tranquility because those are the memories that have stayed in my mind all these years. It's funny how a moment in nature can linger in your mind for a lifetime.
MJM: I can relate to that, being affected by nature myself. I was born, raised, and still reside in Upstate NY, in the foothills of the Adirondacks, and the scenery here has had a huge impact on my own writing. Nature is the ultimate beauty, it’s art in its purest form.
Nicola: I have been there; it's so beautiful! Eventually, I hope to leave the city and settle down in a house in the woods. I have been living in NYC for 10 years now, and I love it, but I do miss the quiet, peaceful moments that country living can provide.
MJM: According to your bio, you started writing at the age of 7. What got you started?
Nicola: When I was a kid, I always loved to read, but I also had such a vivid imagination that sometimes I remember being disappointed with the endings of stories. I started coming up with different, more unusual and surprising, endings for my favorite books. And naturally, at some point, it clicked that if I didn't like a story, I could just write my own! Thankfully, I had a teacher who encouraged me to write, so at age 7, I wrote my first short story, and it ended up being published in my school's yearbook. That solidified my decision to keep writing and made me believe that I may be good at it!
MJM: That’s a wonderful story. It only takes one person to believe in you and encourage you. You moved to the US at the age of 18 to attend college. How did that come about? Were you at all apprehensive about moving to a new place, starting a new life, so to speak?
Nicola: I was always excited about traveling, so naturally, when my mother wanted me to attend a US college, I was pretty excited. You see, St. Maarten is lovely, and I miss it terribly, but when you're young, you take everything for granted, so when people told me I lived in paradise on the beaches, all I could think about was that I wanted to see snow. I grew up watching the holiday movies with the white Christmases, so that was something I wanted to experience. By the time I was 25, I had visited 15 countries in Asia, traveled to Machu Picchu in Peru, and took a safari in Africa. Best decisions I ever made!
MJM: Wow! You’ve lived quite an interesting, full life already. I would imagine all of those experiences and places just broadened your writing/story possibilities.
Nicola: Absolutely. I always pull from those experiences when writing. I feel so blessed to have had those opportunities so young. I'm forever grateful to all who helped and encouraged me to chase my curiosity and dreams.
MJM: I read that you earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and a specialty in creative writing. Could you tell me what drew you to anthropology and how that has shaped your approach to writing?
Nicola: St. Maarten has over 100 different cultures represented on its small 37 square miles, so I was always around people from different backgrounds and ethnicities. That's where I fell in love with people, so to speak. People have always fascinated me, because here we all are, living to tell our unique stories and what our cultures mean to us. And I was always definitely more of a listener. So, from a young age, I knew I was interested in studying people. When I got to college, I didn't know what I wanted to major in until I took a cultural anthropology class. I never knew that I could actually major in studying people! Those classes have definitely shaped my writing because I am able to incorporate more unique characters into my novels.
MJM: That’s wonderful! It’s amazing how things fall into place perfectly in order to help shape and prepare you for the future. You started writing at the age of 7, as we’ve already mentioned, but I’m wondering how did you get your start writing professionally?
Nicola: Even though I majored in anthropology in college, I knew I wanted to continue to develop my writing, so I decided on a minor in creative writing. Those classes definitely helped lay the groundwork for my writing career. Although I was writing for years, it was in college that I really learned how to write by using technical steps to develop a novel properly. My writing classes also inspired me greatly and taught me that writing is a disciplined profession just like anything else. Sometimes you will wake up and won't want to write, but it's something you have to commit to if you want to succeed. A few years after I graduated college, I started writing my first novel, which was published in 2014.
MJM: You went on to release your second and third books, and then you released your first collection of poetry and prose. Have you always had an interest in poetry, or was it a new outlet for you?
Nicola: I've always loved poetry since I was a child. My mother bought me Shel Silverstein's books Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic when I was around 10 years old, and I fell in love with his funny poems and drawings. It was at that time that I started trying to write my own poems. In college, as part of my writing minor, I was required to take a poetry class, which brought back memories of reading Silverstein's books with my mom. I really enjoyed that class, and my professor encouraged me to continue with poetry.
MJM: Your collection of poems and prose in Roses by Moonlight is truly beautiful and meaningful. The connecting themes are love and relationship. What was the inspiration for this collection? How did it come to existence?
Nicola: My poetry is inspired mainly by my mother who passed away in 2010. It is about things she taught me, things I learned through her example, and feelings that developed from her passing. When you experience tragedies like this in life, you must find a way to allow grief to expand and then dissipate. For me, that was through writing poetry. But what I love about poetry is that it's really just words that an individual assigns their own labels and feelings to. I can write a poem about my love and loss of my mom, and another can interpret it as a poem about a lost love, a hard breakup, or even the death of a beloved pet. At the end of the day, words do not hold the same meanings for everyone, and poetry is a way to combine words to make a person feel that a poem is speaking uniquely to them.
MJM: I’m sorry for your loss, but glad that you’ve found such a beautiful way to channel it. I think that’s the beauty of poetry, that it’s not really black and white or concrete. It’s open for interpretation more so than any other form of writing, and in return, I believe it’s easier to fully relate.
Nicola: Absolutely. Anyone dealing with a loss and finding trouble speaking about it should really try writing poetry. Emotions and words you may not expect somehow come out on paper. And they help you make sense of what's going on in your mind.
MJM: What are you currently working on? Will we see a new book or collection from you in the near future?
Nicola: I have been working on (and really trying to finish) a time-travel novel for longer than I care to admit. But I keep getting distracted by the poems that randomly pop into my mind. Every time that happens, I text myself the poems and then type them up when I have some time to write. So, I guess I am working on two different projects; we'll see which one crosses the finish line first. Time will tell. :)
MJM: I would like to thank Nicola for taking time out of her schedule to chat with me, it was both fun and insightful, and I look forward to her next publication, whatever it may be! Thanks Nicola!
Be sure to grab a copy of Nicola Mar's latest release, Roses By Moonlight. You can buy the book here.
I recently had the privilege of talking with bestselling author James Donovan about his excellent book, The Blood of Heroes. After reading The Blood of Heroes last month, I really wanted to sit down and discuss it with the author himself, and Mr. Donovan was gracious enough to agree. We discussed his research process, the writing process for the book, and the importance of separating fact and legend.
MJM: I’m wondering what originally drew you to the Alamo? Did you have an interest in it before writing The Blood of Heroes or were you prompted to write about its history in some other way?
Donovan: My previous book was A Terrible Glory, about the Battle of the Little Bighorn (Little, Brown, 2008). That sold well, so my editor wanted to know if I had any ideas about a follow-up along the same lines. I live in Dallas, and I said, “Well, there’s this well-known battle that happened here in Texas a few decades before that one . . .” He loved the idea, and thought it a perfect follow-up.
MJM: I can tell by reading through your Notes and Bibliography sections that a great deal of time, work, and effort went into the research behind the book. How long did the research process take? What did your research process look like? (How did you determine where to start? How did you go about gathering and organizing the information needed?)
Donovan: A Terrible Glory had required a lot of travel to do it right—to many collections at various universities and archives around the country, as well as a few trips to the National Archives. Since the Alamo story did not involve federal archives—Texas wasn’t a part of the U.S. at the time—I thought the research would be more easily handled. In a way it was, since it didn’t involve much air travel. But for about 18 months, I was on the road to San Antonio, Austin, Houston, and other Texas places about every other weekend. A lot of driving . . .and of course that involved delving into lots of collections and archives, and reading old manuscripts, letters, newspapers, etc. That part of it is actually the most enjoyable for me—it’s the closest thing to time travel. But before I do that, I read several broad, comprehensive histories, to get a good feel of the subject and the era, and then I start living in the bibliographies of those books and making lists of their sources. The point is to go back further and further until you’re reading every primary source (written by participants or observers) available. That’s how you get the closest to the truth of what happened. It’s also the only way you’ll find anything new. Most writers don’t dig too deep, but there’s almost always unused material if you dig deep enough. All of that, the background reading and the archival research, took about three years.
MJM: That’s a fascinating process. Wow, three years! I think you have to be dedicated to and passionate about the project to undertake such a task. I also love the researching part of a project. It’s the most enjoyable part for me.
Donovan: I’ve got a full-time job and I also had a young daughter to raise while writing that book, so I did most of my work—outside of the travel—at night and on the weekends.
MJM: I think that’s the picture of dedication right there.
The book’s layout is perfect. The chapters flow and weave into one another beautifully. Each of the key players in the siege of the Alamo receive at least a chapter to themselves. I wondered how you decided on the layout of the book. The Blood of Heroes covers a great deal of ground, both the history surrounding the Alamo and the lives of the people involved in the fight for Texas’ Independence. With such a big undertaking as this one, how did you decide on where to start?
Donovan: Thanks for the compliments. I never jump into the actual event immediately—I think it makes more sense, and the reader will have a much better understanding, if you show how it got to that point, and put it all in context. So with the Alamo, you’ve got to go back to the earliest days of Texas, and discuss its relationship with Mexico, and even Spain. Of course, doing that without sounding like a history textbook is the hard part, because no one reads history textbooks for enjoyment. Whenever possible, I try to focus on the human side of whatever aspect I’m tackling at the time, because if I’ve learned one thing over the years, it’s that people like to read about people. I take it a chapter at a time, and I spend a lot of time deciding how to open a chapter, because I see that as the key to letting a reader into the story in that section. If at all possible, I like to start a chapter talking about a person. That draws the reader in. Then, when you’ve got them interested, you can segue to something else. But of course you can’t make up a single thing, or pretend to know what’s going on inside a character’s head unless that’s known through an account or interview. It’s not easy—probably the hardest part of the process.
MJM: That approach makes sense and as a reader, I thought it worked very well. It’s true that you understand more if you’ve spent a good part of the book reading about all of the events leading up to the siege. Basing it around people rather than the events themselves helps the reader get more invested in the book. You get a feel for these people and develop a better understanding of their mindset.
Donovan: You hope so, anyway.
MJM: You handled the scene of the final battle for the Alamo beautifully. I would imagine that writing that particular scene was a rather daunting task. There’s not a whole lot of information available on the details of that battle. Not to mention the conflicting information and theories surrounding that final battle, Crockett and Bowie’s deaths in particular come to mind. What was your mindset going into writing that particular scene? What were some of your concerns, if any, in handling that scene?
Donovan: You’re a sharp reader. Yes, it was difficult, because we don’t know so many details of what exactly happened to specific people. Any book or story is more satisfying when the main characters are involved in the climax. When that information isn’t known, the writer has to work harder to involve, and to emotionally invest, the reader. But one thing I don’t do—and this is a mistake that too many writers of history make—is stop in the middle of a scene and discuss various theories or conflicting accounts. I call it the Battle of the Footnotes, and if you’re trying to tell the story dramatically, it brings the proceedings to a screeching halt. I’m not saying there aren’t good books that do that, but for a popular history, it’s dangerous. You risk losing your reader. I prefer to write the story based on my conclusions as to the most likely scenario after much deliberation, and discuss that in the endnotes (few publishers use actual footnotes anymore). So in the climactic battle scene involving the predawn assault, I tried to write it as dramatically as possible and as accurately as possible. It was frustrating not to be able to write more about the three main characters, and other prominent ones, because I know the reader also wants to know what happened to them.
MJM: I agree. You handled it beautifully. When reading your depiction of the final battle, I couldn’t help but feel emotionally invested in these people. I knew what the outcome was going to be already, obviously, but I still found myself rooting for them and feeling a sense of pride at their show of bravery and courage. When you recounted De la Peña’s account (on page 286) about admiring “one robust blonde norteamericano as he fired, ran back a few steps while loading, turned, and fired again, until he finally fell,” I could almost feel my heart swell with pride for who we assume was David Crockett in his final moments.
MJM: I appreciated the fact that you went with the account/belief that David Crockett died in battle as opposed to surrendering and being executed afterward. You explain your reasoning behind using this account on page 446 in the Notes section of the book, ultimately stating that there is very little evidence to support the “execution scenario”, due to all accounts pointing to that theory having major credibility issues. Your explanation of Crockett’s death, which spans 4 pages front and back, demonstrates the fact that you thoroughly researched the subject and gave it an enormous amount of thought, before going with the “died in battle” account. Have you received backlash for your stance?
Donovan: Yes, that’s the longest endnote in my book. As you point out, I think it’s unlikely that Crockett was one of the prisoners taken alive and executed. There’s certainly not enough evidence to write it as history. There’s been some backlash, but not much. The most interesting was probably the review in an academic periodical, the Southwest Historical Quarterly, by James Crisp, author of Sleuthing the Alamo, whose Alamo celebrity is largely based on espousing the Crockett execution theory. He spent most of the review criticizing my rejection of that theory and the “eyewitness” accounts supporting it, and distorted or misread one of my points. But that comes with the territory, I suppose.
MJM: I was put off by Crips’ Sleuthing the Alamo. It seemed to me that he was more concerned with pushing and proving his own agenda and bias toward racial equality than digging deep and getting down to the bare bones of the historical record. I also read his review of The Blood of Heroes and to put it simply, it seems to contain an undertone of sour grapes. On the surface, readers may see a man complimenting you on certain aspects of the book, but if you dig deeper, it really seems like he’s whining over the fact that you didn’t side with him (and Kilgore for that matter) on the circumstances of Crockett’s death. Personally, in my humble opinion, I think The Blood of Heroes is far superior in its research, content, and writing style than Sleuthing the Alamo.
Donovan: There’s also the bias that academic historians have against those without doctorates, which is unwarranted. Historians have performed tremendous research in every area of history, and written countless excellent books, but an academic often view them as trespassers in their area of expertise. Crisp, by the way, wrote much of an expanded edition of Dan Kilgore’s book How Did Davy Die?, which of course supports the Crockett execution theory.
MJM: Why do you think people are so fascinated with David Crockett and his death, as opposed to the other key players in the Alamo. I mean, if you take a look at the facts and information on hand, Crockett was actually a small player in the events leading up to the siege of the Alamo and the siege itself, as compared to say Travis or Bowie or Seguín. So why then are we so enamored with Crockett and his death?
Donovan: Crockett was a fascinating character, and he was also one of our first folk heroes. Larger-than-life legends like him who are involved in last stands have to be the last man standing—think about cultural representations of Roland, and Custer, and many others. When there’s a mystery about such a death, myth rushes in to fill the void.
MJM: A quote by legendary director John Ford comes to mind, it was usually his motto when tackling a project where history and legend intersected: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
Donovan: Right. I think it’s an innate human tendency, something to do with refusing to accept an ordinary death for a well-known personage.
MJM: What does the process of separating fact and legend look like and mean for you in regards to writing The Blood of Heroes?
Donovan: It’s a large and important part of the process. The farther back you go in history, the less accurate things are, obviously, and the more time you spend weighing all the evidence in primary sources to decide what exactly happened. You’ve always got to keep in mind the three basic tenets of good popular history writing, as laid down by the great historian Samuel Eliot Morison: objectivity, vigor, and accuracy. I’d add a fourth: exhaustive research. You’ve got to constantly remind yourself to be objective, because even the best historians can slip into subjectivity without realizing it—a classic example is the biographer who falls in love with her subject. Another example is the historian who enters into research on a subject with preconceived notions or conclusions, and uses sources selectively—citing those that support his theory and ignoring those that don’t.
MJM: When writing the book, were you at all concerned about the reception it would receive?
Donovan: I never gave it a thought. You can’t, otherwise you’re allowing that to influence what you write. Besides, it’ll just drive you crazy, because you can’t please everyone.
BC: Are you currently working on another project/book?
Donovan: I recently finished a book about the Space Race and Apollo 11 entitled Shoot for the Moon. It’ll be published sometime next year. I haven’t even thought of another project—I’m just catching up on reading for enjoyment, which I can’t do much of while I’m working on a book.
BC: Just one more question before I let you off the hook. I’ve spoken to quite a few authors and their stories about how they first got into writing are all quite different. Some of them have loved to write from an early age, others developed the passion later on. According to your bio on your website, you have been a literary agent since 1993. So you were within the “industry” already. I’m wondering, how did you come to be an author? Have you always enjoyed writing?
Donovan: I’m sure my answer is similar to those of most other writers. I’ve loved the written word since my mother read her favorite poems—many of them story poems like “Casabianca” and “The Highwayman” and “Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight” and others—to me and my siblings. I read voraciously after my mother bought me a copy of Tarzan of the Apes when I was nine. I wrote various things as I grew older, and in high school I wrote for and edited the school newspaper. But after that I didn’t think about writing until I became a book editor, and then a literary agent. I wrote a couple of small books—one about Dallas, where I live, and one about the Dallas Cowboys—and I was looking for something bigger. One of my authors—he had written several good history books—wanted to do a coffee table book on Custer and the Little Bighorn, but he was busy finishing something else, so he asked me if I wanted to do it with him. I said yes, and got started researching, and then writing. He never found the time to work on the book, so I finished it and sold it. That led to my first book with Little, Brown, A Terrible Glory. So there you are: from Tarzan to Custer and Crockett and now to Neil Armstrong. Makes perfect sense, right?
BC: That’s interesting. Each author has their own unique story of how they came to be in their profession. I’ve spoken to several authors who said that they were never interested in writing or reading when they were younger. It wasn’t until they got older that they developed the passion. One even said that the only reason they became a writer was to help pay bills, nothing more.
It does make perfect sense in a poetic sort of way. All four “characters” share the same quality. It’s the one that pushes them to press forward into the “wild”, unseen, untamed world. I can see the connection.
Donovan: A few years ago when I told a New York book editor about the new book I was working on--Shoot for the Moon—he said, “Another book on the same theme.” I said, “What are you talking about?” He said, “Men on the frontier.” He was right.
I am pleased to welcome author Regina Jennings to Modern Jo March. The winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award, a two-time Golden Quill finalist and a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year Award, Regina has seven novels and three novellas to her name. She recently released her novella, Bound and Determined, which is the second book in her wonderful Fort Reno series. I am so grateful that Regina took time out of her very busy schedule to talk with MJM about Bound and Determined, camels, her writing process, and more. So without further ado, let’s get to it! ;)
MJM: Hi Regina! I’m so glad you had time to chat with me. To get things started, will you tell us where you were raised and where you live now?
Regina: Certainly! I was born in Joplin, Missouri, and moved to Oklahoma when I was two years old. I’ve lived in the same community west of Oklahoma City ever since.
MJM: That’s cool! I can relate to that as I was born and raised, and still reside in the same part of NY. I grew up in the foothills of the Adirondacks and absolutely adore the mountains. Do you have a favorite/spot feature in Oklahoma?
Regina: My favorite feature is the people. People in Oklahoma are so friendly and helpful. As far as the location, my part of Oklahoma is distinguished by rolling plains. You can see forever. Visiting places with dense forests makes me feel a bit claustrophobic at times. Someone could be nearby, and you’d never see them. That’s a bit freaky. And where’s the sky?
MJM: Haha It’s funny, I’m actually claustrophobic but feel totally at home in the woods/forest.
As a writer myself, I’m always interested in how other writers came to be in the profession. Have you always loved to write or did the passion develop over time?
Regina: Some authors say that they are compelled to write. They couldn’t stop writing, even if they wanted to. While I love to read, writing is a chore for me. It’s hard work. I’ll always love telling stories and being creative, but putting words on paper is tedious. Writing is work for me. I keep doing it because it’s profitable and because there’s a lot of satisfaction with finishing a book, but for me there are more exciting things to do than sitting in front of a computer.
MJM: That’s so interesting! You’re the second author in a row that has said that writing isn’t necessarily a burning passion for them. I admit that I love to and find it easy to come up with stories, but find it a bit of a drag to sit down in front of a screen to type it all up. Haha. So how did you get started as an author?
Regina: I wrote things for my church when they requested them – newsletters, missionary profiles, skits, etc. I’d always wondered if I could write a full-length book, but didn’t have the nerve to start. In 2009, I wrote a Christmas play for our church and the response was very positive. Suddenly, I couldn’t hide my dream any longer. I was tired of making excuses for not trying to write a novel, so that became my New Year’s Resolution. Seven months later I took that manuscript to my first writer’s conference and that was the start of my career.
MJM: Lucky for me and my fellow readers! ;) I’ve had quite a few authors tell me that attending writer’s conferences is the best way to get started and to get a publishing deal. Did it happen quickly for you or did you have to plug away at it for a while?
Regina: I’m embarrassed at how quickly it happened. I took that first manuscript to conference and sat down for a pitch session with my dream publisher. Within a few months I had a contract. The only way to explain it is God’s timing.
MJM: Wow! That’s wonderful! God knows what we need and when we’re ready for it. :)
Having a passion for writing, I’m always curious about how authors go about writing. Could you tell me a bit about your writing process? Do you outline your stories or do you just start writing? Do you model your characters after real-life people (either in your own life or maybe an actor?) Do you listen to certain music? Do you write at a certain time (like mornings or nights)?
Regina: Because I’m under contract, I start each story by submitting a synopsis to my editor. That gives me an outline to work from. Then I write a thousand words a day until I’m finished with the first draft. I set it aside for a few weeks, then start rewrites, which are usually intense. My writing time is squeezed in between homeschooling and managing a busy household, but the earlier in the day I can finish, the less stressed I feel.
All of my characters have flaws and quirks, so of course they couldn’t be based on my flawless family and friends.
MJM: My goodness that must take some juggling, discipline, and good scheduling!
Have you always loved reading or did you learn to love it over time?
Regina: I have always loved reading. My idea of a fun summer was going to my grandma’s and browsing through her books. I think I’ve read every Reader’s Digest Condensed collection published between 1975 and 1985.
MJM: Ah a fellow book nerd. ;) As writers, we tend to have one or a few authors in our early years that inspired and shaped our own style and preferences. What author has had the most influence/impact on you as a writer?
Regina: Laura Ingalls Wilder. My great grandparents were Laura and Almanzo’s neighbors in Mansfield, Missouri. I learned to love history through her stories, and to love sassy heroines.
MJM: Oh my goodness! Laura Ingalls Wilder is probably one of my top two greatest influences as well. That is so neat that your grandparents were their neighbors! My goodness would I love to be a little fly on their wall. ;) I also learned to love history and particularly pioneer/western stories through her books.
While we’re on the topic of influencers, what is one book that has had the greatest influence on you?
Regina: Although I haven’t read it in years, I’d have to say Gone with the Wind. Epic historical romance at its finest. As much as I’d love to rival them, I don’t know if there’ll ever be a couple as memorable as Scarlett and Rhett.
MJM: What was the inspiration behind your Fort Reno series? How did it come about?
Regina: My editor and I were brainstorming a new series. He asked if I was interested in writing about my home state. The reason I had never pursued it is that I write humorous romance in the late 1800s. Indian Territory wasn’t exactly hilarious at that time, but at his encouragement, I dug a little deeper to find some good story material. Luckily, Fort Reno isn’t far from my home and is full of colorful history. The biggest hurdle to setting romances at a fort in isolated Indian Territory is getting single women there. Solving that problem has led to several fun, original story premises.
MJM: Ah, I can see now how that would be a bit challenging, haha. I’m so glad you solved that problem because I LOVE cavalry stories! I think Holding the Fort is my new favorite book from your catalogue. I truly enjoyed Louisa Bell and Major Daniel Adams’ story. I also found Bradley and Ambers’ story just as entertaining and rather intriguing due to three unusual characters. ;)
Regina: Thank you!
MJM: Let’s talk about Bound and Determined. It is the second installment in your Fort Reno series, and follows Private Bradley Willis. First off, did you know right from the beginning that the second installment would feature Bradley?
Regina: Not initially. When writing Holding the Fort, I planned for three books with the heroes being Major Adams, Lieutenant Hennessey, and Frisco Smith. I’d hoped that someday I could revisit Bradley and give him a story when he was older and more established, but the novella opportunity came along early. The timing of the story changed the plot a bit, but it ended up working perfectly.
MJM: Well I’m so glad Bradley got his story! It was wonderful. As I said before, this story features 3 characters that you don’t usually find in the Historical genre. How did the camels come to be in the story? I loved them and the fact that they had their own personalities. They were such a fascinating twist!
Regina: Ahhh…the camels. As a writer, you’re probably familiar with those little tidbits you find while researching, that take a life of their own. I’d bought a book on the pony express at a library sale and in it was a tiny line about the U.S. Cavalry experimenting with camels. I tracked down the footnotes and soon had a book called, The Last Camel Charge by Forrest Bryant Johnson. I fell in love with the hilarious, but true, improbability of having camels in the cavalry and knew I had to get them in Indian Territory somehow. It’s been one of my favorite research projects so far. Someday, I might just have to get a camel. (I take that back. In an earlier interview, I said I’d always wanted to learn to play banjo and guess what my husband surprised me with for Christmas? I do NOT want camels, dear.)
MJM: Ah yes. I think researching is the best part of writing. That’s amazing how it all started with a book at a sale and a footnote. I love when things fall into place like that! You go down a rabbit hole only to come out with an awesome, unique story. I find myself down one of those holes currently regarding the Battle of the Alamo….. Not sure what I’m going to do with it though, hehe! Oh my goodness! Well he definitely gets points for being thoughtful and creative! Haha, oh but think about the party conversations you could have! ;)
MJM: I am currently working on my first novel and hoping to publish this year, so whenever I get to sit down and chat with an author, I always like to pick their brain for advice. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Regina: Being a published author doesn’t change the important things about you or your life. For years I dreamed of being an author and it was so exciting when it happened, but I’m glad I didn’t put my other dreams on hold waiting for it. Live your life, take care of your family, and serve where God has placed you. It’s by doing those things that we have the experiences to write about. And if God never opens the doors for you, then you will have no regrets over wasted time.
MJM: That is very sound advice. I think too often we can place too much importance on one dream or our career, that’s when we tend to run amuck. And on that note, I shall let you go, it has been wonderful to be able to chat with you. I’d like to thank you for taking time out of your day to do this. I truly appreciate it!
Regina: Thank you for having me, Liz. I’ve enjoyed our visit!
I am pleased to welcome author Josephine Blake back to Modern Jo March, this time to talk about her fabulous new release, A Brush with Death. For those of you interested in the full length interview I did with Josephine, where we discussed her writing process, her books, authors that have influenced her, and more, you can check it out here. This time around, we got together because I desperately wanted to talk to her about her recent project, A Brush with Death, so without further ado, here we go!
*****Spoilers alert! If you haven’t already read this excellent book, you might want to hold off on reading this interview! *****
MJM: A Brush with Death takes a different direction than your other novels, marking your first official foray into the Historical Gothic genre. What made you decide to write a gothic novel?
Josephine: Honestly, I’ve always strayed towards the darker, creepier aspects of storytelling. My first love of fiction as a child was horror novels, and I still read them to this day. What better way to celebrate that love than to combine those darker elements with the romantic tales that I love just as much?!
MJM: That’s interesting! And you did it beautifully, by the way. This book is so unique, what was the inspiration/thought process behind the original idea of this story, which essentially humanizes Death?
Josephine: Oh, thank you! I don’t know where the idea came from. Maybe from that creeping sensation that we all get? The one where we feel like we’re being watched when no one is around? Combine that with my tendency to pity the villain in any story, and WAM, here’s Death, who is still my favorite character that I have ever written. :)
MJM: Ah, yes, that’s so cool that you picked up on that sensation and used it to your advantage! By the way, I’ll never think about that creepy sensation of being watched in the same way! Death is that you? ;) I admit that Death is probably my favorite character that you’ve written so far too! There’s just something about him…
I love the fact that A Brush with Death is a romance story at its heart. I find it so original and intriguing that you made Death itself/himself the love interest. How in the world did that come to be? What was the inspiration behind it? I mean, you actually made Death rather desirable, that’s no small feat!
Josephine: Well, I believe that every person, no matter how good they are, has a darker side to them. My goal in writing Death was to create a character who wore every bit of darkness inside of him proudly, for all to see. Death isn’t ashamed of what he is, he’s blunt, honest, and to the point. He knows what he is and what his place is in the world. I wanted to take him and reverse that divide between good and evil. Death is more ashamed of the GOODNESS inside him, rather than the darkness. He’s the direct opposite of a human being.
MJM: Speaking of evil, the story takes place in 1888 London, during the reign of terror of Jack the Ripper. What was the reasoning behind this particular setting? Was it because you intended to feature Jack the Ripper from the start or did that come later?
Josephine: I’ll admit, in the beginning, I wasn’t sure where this story was taking me. Originally, I had it set in Georgia, and I was planning to drum up a sort of “murder mystery” theme. Then my husband and I went to England. During one of our tours, we touched on the tale of Jack the Ripper, and my mind exploded with ideas. It was awesome!
MJM: What an amazing twist of fate! I think the whole Jack the Ripper plot really brought it all together, made it even darker and highlighted Death’s role.
That twist near the end came out of left field for me. I can usually figure out how the story is going to end before the book is done, but I did NOT see that whole last part coming. Was that twist, Michael being Jack the Ripper, planned from the start or was it formed as you got deeper into the writing of the story?
Josephine: Nah. Michael was the bad-guy from the get go. I needed some way to REALLY involve Isabel in the mystery and the thrill of hunting down Jack the Ripper and so… Enter Michael. ;)
MJM: So I have to ask, will there be more books along the lines of A Brush with Death?
Josephine: YES! A Brush with Death is the first book in my Hands of Fate series. Each of the following stories will be standalones with a single thread that ties them all together. Can you guess what it will be?
MJM: I can’t wait! This series will definitely continue to be on my radar, you’ve got me hooked now, and to think I’ve never been a fan of the darker stuff! Hmmm, is it Jack the Ripper? Maybe other “beings” like Death?
Josephine: I’m far too much of a tease to give you that answer. ;) Let me just say that fans of Isabel and Death’s story will be in for a delightfully, twisted ride.
MJM: Darn it! Well a girl has to try, haha ;)
I’m extremely excited to welcome author Karen Witemeyer to Modern Jo March. I’m so thankful that she took time out from her busy schedule to do an interview with me. I have been a big fan of her books for several years now and I’ve always said that my bucket list for this blog would be to get an interview with her… And now it’s happening! So thank you, Karen!
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Karen Witemeyer, her books have consistently hit bestseller lists and have garnered awards such as the ACFW Carol Award, the Holt Medallion, and the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award. On top of that, she is a multiple RITA and National Reader's Choice finalist. She has penned the Archer Brothers series, A Worthy Pursuit, Full Steam Ahead, and the Ladies of Harper’s Station series, among many other wonderful stories. So, without further ado, here is my interview with the very talented Karen Witemeyer.
MJM: Hi Karen! Welcome to Modern Jo March! I always like to start off by asking authors where they are from. I know you currently live in Texas, were you born and raised there, or are you a transplant?
Karen: I'm a transplant from California. I came to Texas in 1989 to attend Abilene Christian University, met my husband, and not only did we never leave Texas, we never left Abilene. We both work for ACU now, and my daughter is a junior here. My oldest son will be a freshman here in the fall, as well. Our blood runs purple.
MJM: Awe, that’s cool! Having lived there for so long, do you have a favorite spot/area in Texas?
Karen: Does home count? Ha! Being home with my family is my favorite place. After coming from California with mountains on the horizon, ocean views, and real trees, the scenery is not what keeps me in Texas. It's the people. Southern hospitality, godly values, frontier spirit—all of these wonderful elements still pervade the culture here. That's what I love most about Texas. Although the sunsets are pretty spectacular.
MJM: Ha! Yes, home most definitely counts, after all, “Home is the nicest place there is.” I’m based in Upstate NY, so I’m also used to mountains, hills, woods, and trees. Was it a bit of a “culture shock” moving to Texas?
Karen: Yes. Being so far from home was difficult at first as an 18-year-old, but it challenged me to become independent, introduced me to a great group of friends (my future husband among them), and gave me plenty of school work to keep me distracted. Although, even after more than 25 years, on the rare occasion we get a low-hanging fog bank, I imagine the clouds are actually mountains on the horizon.
MJM: All of your books take place either solely or mostly in Texas, so it’s safe to say that Texas has had an influence on you. Do you find it more interesting, fulfilling to write stories set in a place that you are so familiar with?
Karen: Even though I'm not a native, Texas is my home. It's where my children were born and raised. It's where my heart resides. And because it's such a large place, there is no shortage of settings to utilize for my stories. Being here does make it easier to research. Even though the majority of my research is done online, there have been times when I've driven to the place where I am setting my story to take pictures and get a feel for the landscape. I'll never forget when I was writing Head in the Clouds and decided to take a detour through Menard County on my way home from a conference. I had imagined Gideon Wescott's sheep ranch to be about 10 miles outside of town, so I took a little Farm & Market road and drove 10 miles. I pulled over and couldn't believe my eyes. There, behind the barbed wire fence were sheep! It was meant to be.
MJM: Oh my goodness, that’s truly providence for you!
One thing that I love about your whole body of work is the fact that the stories are diverse and unique. They may all take place in Texas, but each novel and novella has their own unique plot and characters. Has it been challenging to come up with new plot ideas, or does that come more naturally to you?
Karen: YES! The more books I write, the harder it is to come up with ideas that feel fresh. I pray a lot. I am not a naturally creative person. I don't have a dozen ideas running around in my brain at a time. I have one. And I cling to that one with all my might and pray that when the end of that story comes, the Lord will provide another. Thankfully, he continues to do so, like he did for the widow who kept pouring oil until all the vessels she found were filled. There may come a day when my last vessel will be filled and the oil will stop, but for now, I'll keep on pouring and thank him for his provision.
MJM: That’s so interesting. Most people immediately assume that authors are naturally creative and therefore find it easy to come up with stories, but for some it’s more of a developed habit rather than an instinctual impulse. I like you’re likening it to the widow and the oil! That’s such a beautiful way to look at it.
A question I always like to ask authors is, have you always had a passion for writing or did it develop over time?
Karen: I've always been passionate about story, but for most of my life that passion was focused on reading, not writing. I was a book worm as a kid, bringing stacks home from the library and hiding in my room to devour them. However, I never really considered writing my own. I would daydream stories, so I guess I had an element of that creative process lurking deep inside, but I was never one to keep a diary or journal. I didn't write stories except for the ones required in school. As I grew older, I started thinking that maybe someday I would try my hand at writing a book, but there were always other things to consume my time. College. Work. Kids. Then when I was a stay-at-home mom with three pre-school children, my husband found out that his job was being eliminated. Panic set in. I needed to help contribute to the family income, but I didn't want to leave my kids. I know, I'll write a book and make lots of money right away. Ha! Well, my estimate on both counts was off by a mile, but God used that crisis moment to awaken the dream he'd planted in me. Within a few months, both my husband and I were working full-time for the university, my in-laws were watching the kids, and I was learning the craft of fiction writing. Six years later, I signed my first book contract and the rest is history.
MJM: That’s interesting! I was the same way, a voracious reader and always daydreaming up stories in my head, but it never occurred to me to write them down until just recently. It’s truly amazing how God works, isn’t it?
As a writer myself, I’m always curious about how authors go about writing. Could you tell me a bit about your writing process? Do you outline your stories or do you just start writing? Do you model your characters after real-life people (either in your own life or maybe an actor?) Do you listen to certain music? Do you write at a certain time (like mornings or nights)?
Karen: My writing process is different from many authors. I write one very slow, careful draft. That's it. Just one. But I constantly edit and polish it as I go. I send chapters off to critique partners as I finish them and incorporate their feedback. At the outset, I need to have a firm grasp of who my characters are and what the main story problem is. I like to have an idea of about 3 major plot events that will help propel the story along, but I don't actually outline. I just carry it all in my head. Before I start writing, I send off a detailed synopsis to my editor for approval, and if he has feedback, I adapt accordingly. I keep a loose timeline document as I write to keep track of what happens when and how much time passes over the course of the story, and I have a few notes about character appearance and a listing of character names, but I don't use story boards or extensive worksheets. I just don't have the time. Since I write so slowly, I need all the time I can get for the actual book. Instead of daily word count goals, I have weekly chapter goals – one polished chapter a week. Since my books tend to be between 36-40 chapters long, I try to allow 40 weeks for a full-length novel and 10 weeks for a novella. With 52 weeks in a year, you can see that leaves very little time off. My characters live solely in my head, they aren't based off of real people, though sometimes I ask my Posse Facebook friends to submit images of people who they think would match my character descriptions. These photos don't help me a lot during the writing stage, but they are wonderful for passing on to my publisher when the time comes to select a cover model.
MJM: Through this interview feature, I have found that every author has their own, unique process. I find each one fascinating. I am a member of your Posse Facebook group and remember that time well. We had so much fun! Plus, it’s always a thrill when your favorite author lets you in on the process. It’s truly a delight.
Now, before I go any further, I HAVE to talk about A Worthy Pursuit, simply because it’s my absolute favorite book from your catalogue and one of my favorite books period. Can we talk about Stone?! My goodness is he swoon worthy. ;) How did he come to be? What was the inspiration behind his character?
Karen: With A Worthy Pursuit, I actually had the heroine figured out first and designed the hero to be her perfect man. After watching her father cheat on her mother and experiencing her own suitor's perfidy, Charlotte had lost all faith in men. So creating Stone was my gift to her. Someone who would be patient enough to pursue her as long as it took, someone steadfast and honorable. Yet at the same time, I needed conflict between them, so what could be better than making him the man sent to apprehend her after she abducts/rescues the children in her care? Oh, and I just couldn't resist making him a larger than life dime novel hero. Someone too good to be true, so she'd be even less likely to trust him.
MJM: It certainly was a brilliant bit of creativity! I know I certainly fell in love with him! ;) I grew up on John Wayne movies and old westerns, so the whole dime novel hero definitely appeals to me. Another aspect of the book that I particularly loved was the dialogue.
As is the case in all of your books, the dialogue is witty and funny. You have perfect timing with your injections of comedy, wit, and sarcasm. I literally laughed out loud at the “gnome” remarks (to himself) from Stone in the beginning of the book. Does writing dialogue come easily to you or do you actually have to work at it?
Karen: Sometimes it comes easily, and sometimes it's like pulling teeth. The key for me is to let myself get absorbed into the character whose head I am in, and let the dialogue flow from that place, not from me, the author. This is particularly tricky when writing the male POV. I'm a natural explainer and like to use lots of words (shocking, right?), but men, especially the rugged cowboys I write about, tend to be more of the strong, silent type. So, I have to fight the urge to be verbose and instead be concise and pithy with them. Where I would ramble, they'd grunt and be done. Ha!
MJM: That’s a good point! I’ve always wondered how female authors, like yourself, manage to write the male POV so realistically and believable, it definitely takes a certain talent.
MJM: You have a true talent for writing/developing characters who are attractive, relatable, and approachable. Your male heroes are handsome and attractive, yet they aren’t fake and they don’t feel like fantasy. You make them feel approachable and relatable by giving them flaws and idiosyncrasies. Some examples that immediately come to mind would be Levi from To Win Her Heart and Malachi from No Other Will Do. They break the mold of the formula romance hero, which is refreshing. Speaking of breaking the mold, let’s talk about Amos from Heart on the Line. I feel like he broke the mold more than the others have. He could be classified as a “nerd” hero. He’s not the typical cowboy, but proves that you don’t need to be tall, outrageously handsome, and built in order to win the girl. Who or what was the inspiration behind this particular character and plotline?
Karen: The theme verse for this novel is 1 Samuel 16:7 – “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” I've been a romance reader since my teen years, and I love swoon-worthy, alpha-male heroes. Yet I think the romance genre as a whole skews the ideal man a little too much in that direction. I have a 19-year old daughter away at college, and when I think of what I want her to look for in a potential mate, good looks and swagger don't make the top of the list. It's so much more important to look for deeper character traits like godliness, kindness, a sense of humor, and steadfast dedication even when times get tough. So in this story, I turn the usual romance ingredients on their heads. The hero prefers bicycles to horses, wears spectacles, and is a 19th century technology nerd (hmmm…rather like my husband, come to think of it). He doesn't match the fantasy my heroine has built up in her mind about the man on the other end of the telegraph wire, but she soon learns that looks can be deceiving and that a mad of godly character is one to be treasured.
MJM: Now that I think back over all of the books that I’ve read within this genre, that’s very true. Up until I read your novel Full Steam Ahead, and then of course, Heart on the Line, I hadn’t come across a book featuring a male hero that didn’t follow that same formula. I agree that the genre needs some more balance between the macho, alpha male hero and the non-alpha hero. As much as I love a good alpha male, cowboy type, I’ve also enjoyed the other types as well! A good man is a good man, no matter the outer package.
I have enjoyed your Ladies of Harper’s Station series right from the beginning. I’ve always wondered, when writing a series, is there a point in the process when you figure out which characters will be more prominent than the others? Did you have an idea of how it would all end from the beginning? Or did you have to walk through the series yourself, in order to figure out how it would end?
Karen: Since I write so slowly, it is hard for me to carry a long series and maintain momentum with readers since they have to wait 6-12 months for the next story. In fact, when I first started writing, my publisher steered me away from series because books 2 and 3 rarely sell as well as book 1. So, most of my series have been short, usually just two full-length novels with one or two novellas thrown in the mix. The Archer Brothers were my first, and that was easy to know when to end. As soon as I ran out of brothers. Ha! The Ladies of Harper's Station had potential to offer many more stories since all the ladies in town were unattached, but I didn't want readers to lose interest. So, I picked the characters with the most compelling stories to tell and focused on them. I cheated a bit in Heart on the Line and worked in two romances instead of just one, but as that series comes to a close, I feel good about the ladies I highlighted.
MJM: I just recently finished reading the last installment of the series, The Love Knot, which is featured in the novella collection, Hearts Entwined. I have to say, I was sad to hear that it would be the last book in the series, but after reading it, I find I am happy and satisfied with the conclusion. How did the Hearts Entwined collaboration come to be? I know you have collaborated with Regina Jennings and Mary Connealy twice already with the novella collections, A Match Made in Texas and With This Ring?, and you’ve collaborated with Melissa Jagears twice with With This Ring? and With All My Heart. Did that history of collaboration have anything to do with this recent project?
Karen: Yes, we knew that we worked well together and that we had similar styles, so when I decided to write Claire's story, I immediately reached out to these ladies and asked if they would like to collaborate. We decided to link our stories by theme and not by geography or time period and had a lot of fun working in the entwined theme. Each of our stories has some kind of imagery dealing with tangles and knots. My story, The Love Knot, plays on that idea several ways—there are actual embroidery threads that become tangled when Claire and Pieter interact and later come to represent a bond between them that cannot be untangled or broken. There is also a tie-in to the Celtic love knot of Claire's heritage.
MJM: Can we talk about your upcoming projects? As I mentioned before, I am a member of your Facebook group, The Posse, so I do know that there are at least two upcoming novels. I’d like to talk a bit about the first one, More Than Meets the Eye, which is already up for pre-order. Can you tell us about More Than Meets The Eye? How did that story come about?
Karen: I wanted to bring together a set of siblings in an unusual way and use them as a base for a series. I remembered reading a series of books by Julie Garwood back in the 1990's based on the idea of a group of street boys who find a baby girl in the garbage that someone had thrown away. They take this baby under their wing and move out west for a fresh start. They change their last names to Clayborne and call themselves family. That sparked the idea behind the Hamiltons in More Than Meets the Eye. Evangeline, Seth, and Zacharias are all orphans on one of the orphan trains sent west to find homes for children. Each of them has been rejected for different reasons. Evie has mismatched eyes, Seth is sickly, and Zach wants no part of family, so he scares off any potential takers. When their train derails, tragedy binds them together and they decide to make it on their own. They take on a new name and leave the wreckage to become their own family. Life is hard, though, and choices made in desperation have consequences they couldn't have foreseen. And when the piper demands to be paid, the only thing that can save them is love.
MJM: That sounds like yet another not-to-be-missed story! I look forward to reading it when it comes out! I’ve already pre-ordered it, so I’ll be not so patiently waiting until June. ;)
This is the part in the interview where I like to ask you a few questions from your readers. I recently posted a query in The Posse group asking your readers what burning questions they had for you. I was pleasantly surprised to find so many interesting questions! So here are a few:
• Catherine would like to know, “Do your characters ever talk to you outside of writing? Like when you’re out and about and you see something, does a character’s voice/thoughts pop into your head? If so, do they talk to you even after you’ve finished the book?”
Karen: Unlike many authors, I don't actually hear character voices. I think it's because I'm a left-brained writer instead of a right-brained one. Or maybe it's just because I'm bossy and won't let them out of their box unless I'm working. I do sometimes get ideas for plot points when I'm not actively writing. Car rides and walks in the neighborhood can be great for generating ideas. I don't usually get inspired by someone or something specific I see, it's more of having the chance to quiet my mind that allows new ideas to take root.
• Megan would like to know, “How much say do you have in the cover art of your book and in the marketing of the book?”
Karen: My publisher always asks for input at the beginning of the process—physical descriptions of the hero and heroine, the setting, any images I have regarding clothing or actual people to represent my characters. They also take input from me about what might make a fun cover. The covers for Head in the Clouds and Short Straw Bride were based on my ideas, but most of the others came from the creativity of the Bethany House Art Department. Once I give my information, the Art Department takes over, and I rarely see anything until the publisher decides on the final result. Sales, marketing, design, and editorial all weigh in. Editorial makes sure the cover matches the story; sales makes sure it is a cover that will appeal to retailers; marketing makes sure the cover will appeal to readers; and design ensures the high artistic standards are maintained. Once they show me the finalized cover, I'm allowed to give feedback, but I rarely get to change anything. With the upcoming cover for More Than Meets the Eye, they actually gave me a choice between two covers, which was wonderful! I selected the one I preferred, and they went with that one. I felt so empowered. Ha!
• Stacy would like to know, “What advice would you give to aspiring authors?”
Karen: Work hard, be patient, and cultivate a tough skin. There is a lot to learn about the craft of fiction. Don't look for short cuts. Put in the work, and you'll eventually reap the rewards. Publishing is a very slow business, so learn to be productive while you wait. Send off your queries and proposals, but start working on your next book, too. Finally, be prepared for criticism. It hurts to have your work picked apart, whether by critique partners, contest judges, editors/agents--but if you learn to set aside the emotional defensiveness and absorb the comments with objectivity, your work will be stronger for it. Even as a multi-published author, I still have to deal will all these criticisms including the added level of reader reviews. The tougher your skin, the more likely you are to learn from past mistakes and become a better author.
• Darcy would like to know, “What’s your favorite of the books you’ve written?”
Karen: That's a tough one. It's like asking a mother to pick between her children. She can't! Each one is special in its own way, but if I were forced to pick, I think I would choose either To Win Her Heart (Levi Grant was just special, and the entire plot of that book came together in a way that could only be Providence) or Heart on the Line (since the hero was directly inspired by the delightful nerd heroes in my own life).
• Lynne would like to know, “Is there a historical period you’d like to write about that you haven’t touched yet?”
Karen: I really enjoy reading regency novels and might like to try writing one someday, but for now, my heart and my brand is late 1800s Texas, so I think I'll stay here.
MJM: Before I bring this interview to a close, I would like to thank you, Karen, for taking the time to chat with me and answer my questions. I have had such a blast with this interview. It was a dream come true to be able to pick your brain about your writing process and your books. So thank you so much for joining me!
Karen: Thank you for having me!
It gives me great pleasure to welcome Author George McVey to The Book Corner. I’m honored that he took time out from his work, which includes writing several new books to do an interview with me. This interview also marks a first for the blog, it is the first time I’ve had a male author on! All of the featured interviews prior to this one have been with female authors, therefore it’s a real treat to have George on. We get to see a different side of the writing world! ;) So without further ado, let’s get down to business!
BC: Hello George! I’m so excited to have you on the blog. To get things started, can you tell us where you were raised and where you live now?
George- I was born in the town I live in now Charleston, West Virginia, as a matter of fact I live 4 blocks from the hospital I was born in. I was raised in a town about 20 miles from where I was born called Dunbar, West Virginia.
BC: Oh that’s cool! I just had a John Denver moment when I saw “West Virginia”. ;) I was born and raised in NY. I was born in Albany, which is about an hour south of where I grew up. I’ve lived in the same place for 25 years now and the major reason for that is that I’m just a homebody. I love the land I live on and I love the mountains, they’re my favorite thing about NY. We camp in the Adirondacks every summer. :) What’s your favorite thing about where you live, do you have a favorite spot or activity?
George- What I love about where I live is that while I’m in the heart of our capitol city there are woods and forests within walking distance. One of my favorite places is our Town Center Mall. It is a great place to go and watch people and gather character and physical traits that help me create characters in my novels.
BC: That’s actually a genius way of developing characters. I’m ashamed to say that I would have never thought about doing that.
As a writer myself, and one who has always loved the craft, I like to ask authors whether they’ve always loved to write or if they developed the passion over time?
George- I haven’t always loved to write. However, I have loved to tell stories since I was small. My mother has a recording of me at three telling her a story about how I was going to be put in a cage at the circus and become a circus act of the boy who was wild as a lion.
BC: Wow, that’s imaginative! When did you first start turning those stories into writing form and producing novels?
George- I wrote my first novel in 2011 but I didn’t publish it until 2012.
BC: Was there a particular reason for the delay in publishing? (If you don’t mind me asking!)
George- Honestly it took me that long to decided to publish a fiction book. I wrote it to get it out of my head. I never imagined anyone would want to read it. Then my wife showed it to her mother and my mother-in-law kept telling people they needed to read it. Eventually they wore me down and I published it.
BC: You said you didn’t always have the passion for writing, so how did you get started as an author?
George- I was talking with a pastor friend in a Hindu country about prayer walking. He asked me to send him notes on how to do it so he could teach it to his church. I started writing what I thought was an email and 10,000 words later realized what I had was a book not an email. I wrote my first book “Prayerwalking for Spiritual Breakthrough” in 7 days in response to that request. My second book was a novel based on a dream I had and became “Rise of the Champion.” I haven’t looked back since then.
BC: Wow, that’s interesting! It’s such a unique way to get started. It just goes to prove that God works in mysterious ways.
So how many books have you written so far?
George- According to Amazon I have Twenty-three books published so far and I’m working on eight more before the end of the 2017. So if all goes according to plan I should have thirty-one published books by year’s end.
BC: As a writer and an avid reader, I’m always interested in others’ writing processes. Can you tell me a bit about yours? Do you outline your stories or do you just start writing? Do you listen to certain music? Do you write at a certain time (like mornings or nights)?
George- I am what I like to call a planster. By that I mean I’m a cross between a plotter and a panster. I plot out the big things but let the story write itself around that major plot point or points. I do have music that I listen to when I write. I use a lot of Focus at Will music to help me speed up my word count. I also have a western writing song list I play when working on a historical old west tale. I listen to Blues when writing romance if I’m not listening to focal music. I write overnight. I usually start around midnight and write till six thirty or seven in the morning. It’s quiet then and I am not interrupted by family or friends when I’m in the writing groove.
BC: I love asking authors that question because I never get the same answer. :)
As someone who has always loved to read, I’m always interested to learn if that’s the same for other writers. Have you always loved reading or did you develop the passion for it over time?
George- I’ve loved reading since I could read. I won a distinct award in both middle and high school as the only person to have read every book in both school library’s I was well on my way to having done the same thing in our little town library when I moved away for a while. I still read like that. It’s not unusual for me to read close to fifty books a month.
BC: Holy moly! That’s extremely impressive! Here I thought I read a lot. ;)
With that in mind, I’m sure my next question might be rather difficult to answer, but I’ll ask any way. What author has had the most influence/impact on you as a writer?
George- There are too many to name just one. Because I read so much I will just say that even when I’m reading for pleasure I learn something from each author whose book I read. Sometimes it things I want to do and improve on, sometimes it things I don’t want to write about or write with.
BC: That’s true.
Who are a few of your favorite authors?
George- Again because I read so much I have too many to list. So let me give you an incomplete list. All the authors at the Pioneer Hearts Group, the Sweet Wild West Reads Group, the Contemporary Western Readers group, and the Christian Indie Author Networks Readers Group, which all can be found on Facebook. Hold but a few of my authors.
BC: What are you currently reading? Any recommendations?
George- Currently I’m reading the Rivers End Ranch series by multiple authors and Shanna Hatfield’s Rodeo Cowboy series. I would also suggest the Grass Valley series by her and just about anything by one of the authors listed in the Facebook groups I mentioned earlier.
BC: I’ve been digging into your work and it looks like you have a mixed bag as far as genres go. How many genres have you written under?
George- Let’s see there’s Western, Western Romance, Mail Order Bride Romance, Fantasy, Contemporary Christian Romance, Nonfiction and now Contemporary Sweet main stream Romance. I also have a couple holiday and short story books that have some political thrillers and sci-fi. So how many genres is that? Ten if I counted right.
Me- Wow! That’s a lot of genres! Do you have one that you prefer over the others?
George- Don’t tell anyone but I think the romance genres are my favorite, closely followed by my Westerns.
BC: Lol I don’t blame you, those happen to my favorites as well. ;) What about each genre/sub-genre interests you? What draws you to each?
George- Back when I was thinking of writing someone told me write the stories you want to read but can’t find. That’s what I do in each genre. I explore the stories I want to read so that for just a little while I can live that life. I think that’s why my readers say my characters seem so real because to me each of them are real.
BC: Can we talk about your book “Marshall, Texas Ranger”? That was my introduction to your work and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My entry into fiction was actually stone-cold westerns (no romance or anything, just a strict western a la L’Amour & Kelton), so this book was right up my alley (not that I don’t enjoy historical/western romances as well!).
Can you tell me how you came up with this storyline?
George- It was a combination of things really. I was watching Elementary on TV and thought wouldn’t it be neat if someone did a Sherlock homes type character in the old west.
BC: That was a brilliant idea, because it really works well in the western setting and it’s different, which makes it a unique book. What was the inspiration?
George- The TV show Monk, with this great detective who has one case he just can’t solve, his own. In Monk he wants to know who killed his wife. So I had that thought what if the greatest detective of his time couldn’t solve his own case but could solve everyone else’s. That thought consumed me and became “Marshall, Texas Ranger.”
BC: That’s actually really cool. I use to watch Monk all the time when it was on and it was fascinating. So the character of Marshall is inspired by both Sherlock Holmes and Adrian Monk, but the bigger question is, who is the inspiration for Mrs. Eva Little? She plays a large role in the book AND the dedication in the beginning of the book tells us that she’s based on a real person. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
George- Mrs. Eva Little is inspired by a real life fan. My first super fan. In real life Mrs. Little is 99 years old (she’ll be 100 in July) she had her daughter contact me way back during Redeeming Reputation and has been a faithful fan of mine since. For her 99th birthday I wanted to make her a character in my book, so I did.
BC: That is truly amazing and so incredibly sweet! Imagine being able to say an author put you in a book! ;)
Speaking of characters, is the character of Captain Hayes based on the legendary Texas Ranger Captain Jack Coffee Hays?
George- Yes, he is. There are documents that show his name spelled both ways I chose the Hayes version. But he was Captain of A company based out of Austin for a while so it was fun to mention him.
BC: I thought I remembered his name from my own research on the Texas Rangers. :)
I enjoyed the plot to this story because I can usually pick up on who done it and how it’s going to end long before the author tells the reader, but with this book I couldn’t! I also enjoyed the “name-drops” in this book, particularly John Wayne’s and CD Parker (From Walker, Texas Ranger).
George- I’m glad you liked them. The name drop Easter eggs are a specialty of mine. I try to put one or two real life cowboys or TV/movie cowboys in each of my westerns. You picked up on the two big ones in Marshall. The other was each Ranger listed was a real ranger, with the exception of C.D. The governor was really the governor of Texas at the time the book is set in.
BC: Oh wow, I can’t believe I didn’t pick up on that! I like that, the use of real-life rangers makes the story feel even more authentic. I also enjoyed your attention to detail with both the history and when you were talking about the guns and cleaning tools. Fun note: I have to say, every time I read the name Brownsville the song “Delta Dawn” went through my head. Have you ever heard the song?
George- I hadn’t until I started working on this interview. I chose Brownsville because it was the very last battle of the Civil War, which helped me set up the plot.
BC: I’m wondering if this will be a series, are there any more books about Marshall coming?
George- Yes, this will be a series but not a fast series. I plan to release one book a year. Next year is “The Cases of the Ghost Riders”.
BC: Yay! I’m so happy to hear that! I don’t mind waiting as long as I know that more books will be coming. ;)
I’m currently working through the second book in your Mail Order Bride series. The Mail Order theme is an extremely popular one and one that’s been done extensively, yet you managed to come up with two original stories to add to the theme, which is impressive. What inspired you to toss your hat into that ring?
George- I got asked to read a couple Mail Order Bride Stories for review purposes and as I was reading I kept thinking they were all the same. Which caused me to do some research, by that I mean read over two thousand MOB books. I kept thinking I could do a Mail Order Bride story that wasn’t same old same old. So I sat down and came up with an idea, which lead to several more ideas. Thus the series with books I hope are all going to be different than the normal Mail Order bride books.
BC: That is true though. So often we find ourselves reading book after book that has the same plotline to it. I think it makes us appreciate the original and unique ones even more.
Can you tell me a bit about the story (or stories) you’re currently working on?
George- Well that would take more time than we have. Let me say this I have ten more books coming out in 2017 and already have six scheduled for 2018 with more ideas that I haven’t started yet. My next book out is Java Muse book two of the Multi Author series Java Cupid. It comes out June 12. It’s my first attempt at secular sweet romance and is a tiny bit steamier than my Christian romance books but still sweet, just Pg13 instead of Pg. That’s followed by the third Mail Order Bride book, Her Quiet Nurturer which comes out July 14th. That’s Glenn’s chance at redemption with a new bride that we’ve already met. Then I have two more books in the Java Cupid Series and I’m involved in another Secular Multi Author Project called Phantom Horse Bridge and I have three of those to release this year. Add to that, Redeeming family and a companion book for teens and young adults called Cindy Ryder: Girl Detective, and a short story book for Christmas again. So, as you can see I’m busy as a one legged man in a butt kickin’ contest.
BC: Hahaha wow! You’re a busy man. That’s an incredible work load.
One thing that has struck me when reading your books, and has obviously struck your other readers, is the fact that you’re actually a romantic. I’ve heard a lot of women say that they won’t read a “romance” book by a man because men can’t write romance, but I would have to disagree and say their loss because they’re clearly missing out. I would also point out that they’re the same ones who get upset with men who say they won’t read westerns/action books by women… Have you always known that you write romance or was that unintentional at first?
George- No, I haven’t. When I wrote Redeeming Reputation people were calling it a western romance and I was upset. “I don’t write romance,” I told them. Then I wrote Rise of the Champion and the next two Redemption books. All the while telling people I didn’t write romance, I wrote westerns and fantasy with some romantic scenes. Then much to my dismay Redeeming Grace was nominated for a Indie Romance Conference’s Best book of 2014 and Best Western Romance of 2014. I took second place and I didn’t even submit it, I don’t know who did. Still I told everyone I don’t write romance. I just surrendered last year and admitted that I do in fact write romance books.
BC: Do you see yourself as a romantic or is that something you have to come to terms with too?
George- Yes, I’ve always been a romantic, ever since my first crush in Kindergarten. When other little boys were mean to the girls they were attracted to, I took extra snacks and picked wild flowers for mine.
BC: Aw! That’s adorable!
Not many men can write romantic stories, but yet it seems to come natural to you. How do you get in the headspace to write those scenes?
George- I just let myself admit to the feelings most men ignore. Yes we see things differently and if I’m struggling to see the romance in a book from the female side I do what I do in real life. I get advice from my wife and other females to make sure I’m doing it right. But honestly all my male romance characters are patterned after my rule of romance. Give more than you get. Give more love, more passion, more pleasure. If you do then as a man what I need out of a romantic encounter will be a given. It isn’t hard it just takes putting your partner’s wants, need, and turn-ons first.
BC: That’s beautiful.
You have developed a working relationship with Sophie Dawson, who has become your writing partner. Can you tell us how that came about?
George- My partnership, heck even my friendship with Sophie should have never happened. We met six years ago on a Christian Authors critique forum. She was working on Healing Love and I was working on Redeeming Reputation. She shared a scene from Healing Love in which Pastor Lendry counsels the main characters to marry to head off rumors. As a pastor that upset me and as a mountaineer I often forget to be tactful so I told her, “That’s the stupidest advice ever. No real pastor would suggest that as the first advice.”
She should have been mad and never talked to me but instead she asked me “then what advice would a real pastor give?” We became friends at that moment and often ran our work past each other for help. A couple years later we realized that two of our characters were related to each other and wrote a book combining her Cottonwood Series to my Redemption Tales Series. We’ve borrow those same characters from each other ever since. And that is how we got together. She really is the Aggie to my Nate. We’re siblings of the heart.
BC: Wow, that’s hilarious and fantastic how it all worked out. I think it’s important to have friends and co-workers who can take our criticism and advice.
One question I love to ask authors is: If you had to pick a favorite character from one of your works who would it be and why?
George- This is a hard question for me to answer Liz. To be honest I love all my characters but my absolute favorite has to be Nugget Nate Ryder. He’s a little bit me and a whole lot my ancestors. Plus he’s the most fun to write for because I never know what he’s going to do.
BC: Nate struck me as an interesting character when I was reading “Marshall, Texas Ranger”, one I’d be interested in getting to know better. Will there be a story for Nate?
George- Nate has a short story collection out called Nugget Nate: The Holiday Adventures. There are also several appearances by him and his wife Penny in Sophie Dawson’s Stones Creek series as well as Giving Love also by Sophie. I have plans for another short story book of Nugget Nate stories but till then you can find several of them on my blog https://georgesshorts.wordpress.com/ Also next year I plan to release a novel called Nugget Nate: Why A Good Man Goes To War. It will be the story of how Nugget Nate and Penny Ryder meet and marry and fall in love.
Me- Yay! I’m so glad to hear that! I look forward to them all, and I’ll definitely check out The Holiday Adventures!
Another question I like to ask is: Which of your characters is most like yourself?
George- Probably Tal from Rise of the Champion. I love getting to be on the adventure that God placed me on. Even now, that I can’t preach or prayer-walk due to health reasons, I still get to see God work through connections online and through my Christian teaching books and fiction. So yeah Tal is probably the most like me in that he accepted his call and it changed his whole life.
A few Fun questions:
What are a few of your favorite hobbies outside of writing?
George- I’m an avid reader, I read over 5000 books a year. I’m also a speed reader, a 400 page book will take me about 3 hours to read. I also watch a lot of TV and movies. My passion though is cooking. I love to cook. 95% of all meal prep in my house is me.
If you had to live in one book, and it can be any book, which one would you choose?
George- The Pagemaster only because then I could visit any book I wanted.
What’s your favorite Bible verse?
George- I have a verse that God gave me about 16 years ago now: Habakukk 1:5. It says “Look to the nations and watch, and be utterly amazed. For I am doing something in your day, that you wouldn’t believe, even if it were told to you.” I took that as a personal promise and have been utterly amazed at the things he’s allowed me to see and be part of.
If you could only live on one beverage and one meal for the rest of your life, what would they be?
George- Pepsi and Cheesecake. I know it isn’t healthy but it is what I like.
What’s your favorite holiday?
George- Valentine’s Day, of course. I can’t believe you even had to ask.
BC: know! Lol I should have known! ;)
I suppose I should bring this to an end at some point! ;) It’s been truly wonderful and great fun having you. Thank you so much for taking time to do this with me. :) Do you have anything else you’d like to say or add before we sign off?
George- It’s been quite fun hanging out with you as well. The only thing I would say is remember to love the people God has placed in your life. Don’t love them silently but out loud and often. When we all pass from this life we will never regret not working enough but we will regret the things we didn’t say or do with those we love. So, love often and love loud. And if you need any inspiration grab a romance novel and pick up a few pointers. ;)
Stay up to date with George through his website and socials:
Grab his books- http://ow.ly/TUll30chgg5
I’m very pleased to welcome author Amanda Tero to The Book Corner. I’m so grateful that she took time out from her busy schedule to do an interview with me. I admit I just recently discovered Amanda Tero (and her books) through a group on Facebook that highlights the Historical fiction genre. That’s one reason I love those groups on Facebook, I’m always discovering great new authors to add to my “to read” list! ;) Amanda happens to write books that are outside my usual reading niche, but I’m always open to discovering and reading great books, no matter the genre/subgenre. I’m so excited to have Amanda on the blog, so without further ado….
Me- Hi Amanda! I’m so glad to have you on the blog. To get things started, will you tell us where you were raised and where you live now?
Amanda - I was born and mostly raised in Louisiana. Three years ago, my family and I moved to Mississippi. I’m a Southern gal for sure.
Me- That’s cool, I’m actually making plans to move south by the end of this year hopefully, if all goes well lol! I’ve lived in New York my whole life, and I do love it here. One of my favorite things about where I live is the mountains. We’re surrounded by them here and camp every summer in the Adirondacks.
Amanda- Ah, I love the mountains!! We have a few more Mississippi hills than in Louisiana, but not quite mountains. ;)
Me- What is your favorite thing about where you live, do you have favorite spot or activity?
Amanda- My favorite thing about where I live would have to be the churches in the area; our church is part of a 13-Baptist Church association, so we get together with the sister churches throughout the whole year.
Me- That sounds fun! I absolutely love my church. It’s a little country church that has been around since before the Revolutionary War. We’re a tight knit congregation. I have to say, that’s the one thing I won’t be happy about leaving when I move!
As a writer myself, and one who has always loved the craft, I like to ask authors whether they’ve always loved to write or if they developed the passion over time?
Amanda- So cool on the church! But I feel you about leaving it. :) I’m fairly certain yes. :) I have evidence of attempting poetry from when I was about six (since then, I’ve discovered that nope, I’m so not a poet!).
Me- Hahaha I can relate! I’ve attempted poetry…. Ok ok, I still try it every now and then, but I’ve never been successful at it. I keep hoping I develop the talent for it, but I haven’t yet lol.
You said you started writing at a young age, when did you first start writing stories/novels?
Amanda- My first completed story was probably when I was around ten or eleven. When I was in my teens, I put writing aside for a while—which I really believe God used to help me to get focused on writing for His glory. Then, I resumed writing again when I was in my early twenties. This time, I took it more seriously and have been trying to learn the craft.
Me- Wow, ten/eleven, that’s impressive! God truly does know how to refocus us and he also has perfect timing. :)
Another question I always like to ask authors is how they got started as an author, can you tell me how you got your start?
Amanda- I wrote a few short stories for my younger sisters one Christmas. The following Spring (2015), I was setting up a booth at a home-school convention (for my music: www.withajoyfulnoise.com) and Mom suggested printing off the short stories to sell for a couple dollars there too. It was the strangest thing, to realize that not just my family enjoyed reading my stories and learning from them.
Me- That’s awesome. :)
How many books have you written so far?
Amanda- Including “The Secret Slipper” (releasing May 25, 2017), I have published three novellas, one non-fiction (“Me? Teach Piano?”) and nine short stories.
Me- As a writer, I’m always interested in other people’s writing processes. Could you tell me a bit about your writing process? Do you outline your stories or do you just start writing? Do you model your characters after real-life people (either in your own life or maybe an actor?) Do you listen to certain music? Do you write at a certain time (like mornings or nights)?
Amanda - I will try not to be wordy here. :) I’ll just take the questions one at a time.
Outlines? Nope. Well, almost a nope. I have a general idea of the storyline when I begin writing the story, but I’m more of a pantster writer. I have learned my writing style though. I have to write a rough draft and then go back and dress it up. A lot.
Characters. I would say that they’re influenced by real-life people, but more often than not, they are usually their own being.
Music. Not at all. Well, when I’m editing and don’t have to think too hard. I’m a musician. I arrange music. So when I listen to it, my brain starts to analyze it. I can’t concentrate on writing and analyzing music at the same time. ;)
Writing Time. VERY random! Some weeks I write very little. I teach piano and violin 2 ½ days a week, so my writing time is usually on Thursday evenings, Fridays, and the occasional Monday. It usually works best for me to write afternoons, though I have had some morning sessions as well. I basically write whenever I can get the time.
Me- I find it very interesting that each author has their own process, I have yet to come across two that are the same. I’m not much of an outliner myself, I’m more of a just start writing and see what happens type of gal lol. Wow! You teach violin? One of my goals for this year is to learn/start learning to play the violin! Though, alas, I haven’t started yet. ;)
As an avid reader, I’m always interested in authors’ reading habits. Have you always loved reading or did you develop the passion for it over time?
Amanda- Very true about authors. We’re all individuals, aren’t we? ;) Violin is a great instrument! I’ve heard it’s one of the hardest to learn, but stick with it and it’s beautiful!
I have always, always, always loved reading. Like…get-in-trouble-because-I-was-reading-and-not-doing-chores loved reading.
Me- Lol a girl after my own heart! ;)
I’m curious, what author has had the most influence/impact on you as a writer?
Amanda- Hmm…various authors have influenced me in various ways. The first one I vividly remember was Al Lacy, who always had a salvation message woven into his stories. Janette Oke influenced the real-life type stories.
Me- I love Janette Oke, she’s one of my favorites.
Who are a few of your favorite authors?
Amanda- Roseanna White, Alicia Ruggieri, Janette Oke, Kim Vogel Sawyer, Lois Walfrid Johnson. And a few non-fiction authors as well such as Elizabeth George and A.W. Tozer.
Me- One reason I ask that question is that it’s a great way to discover great authors that I haven’t read yet. ;) Aside from Oke, the only other I’ve read on your list is A.W. Tozer, which means I get to add a few more authors to me list! ;)
What are a few of your favorite books?
Amanda- Sweet! You’ve got some good ones to add. ;) As for books… Ooh… hard choice. I know this is a given, but the Bible is my top favorite book. Beyond that, my favorites tend to change. Amazingly, the more I learn about writing, the less amazingly-written some books become. ;) I’d say the best answer to that question is to peruse my 5-star Goodreads shelf. http://ow.ly/lKZW30cckKy
Me- Don’t you just love Goodreads? ;)
Another fun question for which I have an ulterior motive for asking is: What are you currently reading? Any recommendations? ;)
Amanda- At the time of answering this question, I am almost finished with Paige Torn by Erynn Mangum (my first Erynn Mangum book) and it is quite funny. I’m not a huge fan of first-person, present-tense writing, but it’s grown on me.
As for books I recommend…ooh…that really depends on the reader. Kim Vogel Sawyer’s Grace and the Preacher was a good historical fiction read. Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Diebler Rose a great non-fiction. The Viking Quest series by Lois Walfrid Johnson a great teen series (and yes, I enjoyed it in mid-twenties). There to get you started. :)
Me- When I was first introduced to your books I found the concept of essentially rewriting well-known fairy tales fascinating. Interest in fairy tales seems to have picked up the last couple of years, what with re-imagined TV shows and movies based on old fairy tales. How did you get the idea for Fairytale Retellings?
Amanda- Well, it all began with “Befriending the Beast.” I just had the idea… “What if the beast was Belle’s father?” I was just planning on it being a stand-alone though.
Me- Can you tell me a bit about your new release the “Secret Slipper”? It is the second in your Fairytale Retellings. What was the inspiration for it?
Amanda- “The Secret Slipper” all began when an author friend asked me, “What about a father/daughter Cinderella story?” Yep…the story came after that.
Now, about “The Secret Slipper.” It is the story of a lord who discovers that his daughter who had died ten years ago really didn’t die. The story of a lass with a deformity whose life gets worse every passing day. And the journey that will either bring them together or permanently apart.
Me- Wow, that sounds intriguing! I can’t wait to read it!
A few fun questions I always enjoy asking authors are:
If you had to pick a favorite character from your books, who would it be?
Amanda- ANY of my books? One that I’ve not written yet. ;) But for those written…hmm…it may be Jolin, from “The Secret Slipper” (A side character—ever notice how side characters are sometimes the most interesting?).
Me- Lol that is true sometimes!
The second question is which of your characters is most like yourself?
Amanda- Thinking through all that I have written, it would be Meg from the short story “Coffee Cake Days.” Her story is kind of a very near-to-my-heart lesson that I learned.
Whenever I interview an author I like to ask their fans what questions they’d like answered ahead of time. Here’s what they wanted to know:
What are a few of your favorite hobbies outside of writing?
Amanda- Music, though it’s not just a “hobby” as I teach piano/violin and arrange hymns and publish them. Oh, reading too. I really like that. ;)
What’s your favorite holiday?
Amanda- That would be Thanksgiving. Our family gets together and it’s just a wonderful family time where we share how the Lord’s been working in our lives that year.
If you had to live in one book, and it can be any book, which one would you choose?
Amanda- Ooh. Tough one. Wow. Yeah. I…don’t…know. I like so many different genres and books. I don’t have a real answer for that. ;)
What’s your favorite Bible verse?
Amanda- The verses that stand out to me over and again is Proverbs 3:5-7… “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.”
It applies to SO, SO many aspects of life. I also got to feature this passage in “The Secret Slipper.” ;)
Well, I suppose I should bring this to an end at some point! ;) It’s been truly wonderful having you. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this with me, it was great fun! :) Do you have anything else you’d like to say or add before we sign off?
Amanda- Thank YOU for doing the interview!! I had such fun doing this exchange with you. :) <3
Get the book- http://ow.ly/2Za830ccm9l
Stay Up-To-Date with Amanda through her website and socials:
I’m very pleased to welcome author Faith Blum to The Book Corner. I’m so grateful that she took time out from her busy schedule to do an interview with me. I admit I just recently discovered Faith Blum (and her books) through a group on Facebook that highlights the Historical fiction genre. I had recently put out a notice that I was looking for authors to interview and Faith was one of the very generous authors who volunteered, lucky for me. ;) I’m so excited to have Faith on the blog, so without further ado….
Me- Hi Faith! I’m so honored to have you on the blog. To get things started, will you tell us where you were raised and where you live now?
Faith- I’m happy to be here! I was raised and still live in Wisconsin. We moved about three times in my lifetime, I think, though all within the same county. My favorite place is where we live right now. We’re out in the country with five acres of our own and surrounded by fields.
Me- That sounds wonderful. Wisconsin is actually on my list of states I want to visit. I also live in the same state I was born in (New York), though I’ve never actually moved. I’ve lived in the same house for 25 years now. One of my favorite things about where I live is that it’s out in the country. We have mountains and hills, and it’s just a nice place to live.
What’s your favorite thing about where you live, do you have a favorite spot or activity?
Faith- Oooo! If you ever do get here, let me know. We should try to meet up. :) I love how quiet it is out here. We live on a quiet road where few cars go by.
Me- Ah, a girl after my own heart. I enjoy the quietness of where I live too. It’s so much nicer than living somewhere with a lot of people and noisy traffic. As a writer myself, and one who has always loved the craft, I always like to ask authors whether they’ve always loved to write or if they developed the passion over time?
Faith- Yes! Most definitely yes.
Me- When did you first start writing stories/novels?
Faith- I think I was about eight before I started writing stories, but I can’t remember exactly. I didn’t start actual novels until I was about 15, though. And now that I know better, that one would technically be a novella, not a novel.
Me- Wow, that’s cool. I use to scribble all the time, writing short stories and poetry, and then worked my way up to writing for blogs and websites, but I have yet to write a novel. In fact, I’m currently working (on and off) on my first book.
Another question I always like to ask authors is how they got started as an author, can you tell me how you got started?
Faith- Er… How long did you want this answer to be? I’ll try to give you the short version. I wanted to be an author for quite some time, but the whole “get an agent, send query letters, etc.” overwhelmed me.
Fast forward a couple years. A friend told me about a writing contest. The grand prize was a good chunk of money, being published by WestBow Press and possibly Thomas Nelson. I didn’t win, but I was a semi-finalist and the editing process I went through to submit my manuscript got me prepped to publish the book on my own. With the help of a couple of other indie author friends, I got my book published and haven’t looked back since then.
Me- That’s interesting! I totally understand being overwhelmed by that whole process, as I still find myself overwhelmed lol! So, tell me (as I try to tally the ones I’m aware of up in my head), how many books have you written so far?
Faith- Written or published? There’s a big difference. I have written countless books. Some will never see the light of day. Others will in the future. I have published 19 eBooks with a few less of those in paperback either because I published them in one volume or haven’t made them available as paperbacks yet.
Me- Oops, my bad! I meant how many books have you published, I tend to forget to be specific because, with the blog, I deal only in books that have already been published.
As a writer myself, I’m always interested in other people’s writing processes. Could you tell me a bit about your writing process? Do you outline your stories or do you just start writing? Do you model your characters after real-life people (either in your own life or maybe an actor?) Do you listen to certain music? Do you write at a certain time (like mornings or nights)?
Faith- I didn’t use to outline. Or rather, I did a little, but it was a really rough outline with just an idea of where I wanted to go with the story. Now, though, I’ve changed my ways and do a more in-depth outline and character development. It’s really helped.
My characters are not usually modeled after real-life people, at least not intentionally. I also don’t try to find an actor who looks like them mainly because it’s really hard to do that when you don’t know very many actors’ names.
I listen to music almost all the time, writing or not. I usually listen on Pandora and have it shuffle through various stations including classical, a few select movie soundtracks, and some Christian stations.
I write whenever I have a moment. Usually in the mornings and later evening. It really depends on the day, though. Most Tuesdays, the only time I have to write is in the afternoons, Wednesdays, I have about an hour in the afternoon, if that. I don’t really have a “Best” time to write.
Me- I always love asking about an author’s writing process because I always get a different answer for each author I speak to. It’s fascinating and I find it interesting to learn people work, because it’s true, we all have a different way of doing things.
As an avid reader myself, I’m always interested in authors’ reading habits. Have you always loved reading or did you develop the passion for it over time?
Faith- I’ve always loved reading.
Me- What author has had the most influence/impact on you as a writer?
Faith- At the moment, I would say K.M. Weiland because she’s the one who got me started on outlining and it really made my stories better. And I also read her book on story structure which has also helped quite a bit.
Me- Who are a few of your favorite authors?
Faith- Louis L’Amour, Karen Witemeyer, Janette Oke, Jaye L. Knight, Amanda Tero, Bodie and Brock Thoene, and more, but I’ll stop there.
Me- Oh my goodness, we have several favorites in common. :) I adore Karen Witemeyer’s books and I grew up on L’Amour’s westerns, my favorite being The Lonesome Gods. I’ve also just started reading Janette Oke’s When Calls The Heart. What are a few of your favorite books?
Faith- I grew up on L’Amours westerns, too. He’s actually the one who got me so interested in writing them. I have too many favorites to name. A few would be: The Holy Bible by God, Journey to Love by Amanda Tero, Befriending the Beast by Amanda Tero, The Secret Slipper by Amanda Tero (not published yet), The Shiloh Legacy trilogy by Bodie and Brock Thoene, To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer, Ride the River by Louis L’Amour.
Me- Of course the Bible is a staple for me as well, nothing compares to the word of God. I LOVE Karen Witemeyer’s To Win Her Heart, it’s one of my favorites by her. I’m just getting familiar with Amanda’s books. I’m actually in the process of doing an interview with her which will be scheduled around The Secret Slipper’s release. :)
What are you currently reading? Do you have any recommendations?
Faith- Seasons of Joy by Alexa Verde and All the Way by Faith Blum (yes, that’s mine, but I really am reading it right now as I edit it. :D As for recommendations, all of the above books in question 11. ;)
Me- lol I actually get that answer (reading your own book) a lot. It’s totally understandable, because after all, you have to read your own book if your editing it. ;)
You’re latest series, Hymns of the West, has been very successful. Three of your books already have over 100 reviews on them, which is a huge accomplishment for an indie author, AND if I remember correctly, the first three books in the series hit the top of listings on Amazon. You’re currently five books into Hymns of the West, will there be more installments?
Faith- At the moment, I plan only the 5 books in the Hymns of the West series. However, I do have a spin-off novella series and my Orphans of the West series is a continuation of the stories of some of the characters in the Hymns of the West series. How’s that for a complicated answer?
Me- Haha, that’s very cool, having a spinoff series. Your Orphans of the West series is actually on my “to read” list, the ever growing list that it is lol :)
Could you tell me a bit about the series? What was the inspiration for writing it, if any?
Faith- Here’s my logline for the series: God's providence brings two families with two different worldviews of living together in ways only He could have planned.
The inspiration for the first book was a story contest. I didn’t actually submit to the contest because I was too old and my story was WAY too long, but it got me started. The inspiration for the series was a beta-reader’s question: “What’s the next book about?”
Me- Oh wow, that’s very interesting.
Ok, so here’s a fun question for you: If you had to pick a favorite character from the series, who would it be?
Faith- Um, uh… That would probably be a tie between Rachel and Ruth. I like them both a lot. Well, I like all of the characters…
Me- Which of your characters is most like yourself?
Faith- Ruth. Definitely. Although, that wasn’t intentional.
Now a few fan questions:
What are a few of your favorite hobbies, outside of writing?
Faith- Crafts of various sorts. I like to knit, crochet, sew, embroider, and more.
What’s your favorite holiday?
Faith- I guess I’ll say Christmas because all the family gets together at that time.
What’s your favorite Bible verse?
Faith- This changes a lot, but right now Titus 2:11-14 are my favorite.
If you had to live in one book, it can be any book, which one would you choose?
Faith- Blessed Assurance by me because I really want to meet Adelaide. :)
How old are you?
Faith- I’m 26 years old. :)
Well, I suppose I should bring this to an end at some point! ;) It’s been truly wonderful having you. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this with me, it was great fun! :) Do you have anything else you’d like to say or add before we sign off?
Faith- Thank you for the fun interview! :)
Stay Up-To-Date with Faith through her website, blog, and socials:
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Faith-Blum/e/B00GSPBHW6
I’m very excited to welcome Author Josephine Blake to The Book Corner. I’m so thankful that she took time out from her busy, busy schedule to do an interview with me. I admit I just recently discovered Josephine through the group she admins on facebook called The Rumor Mill, and that led me to her books. ;) I just recently finished Dianna, which is the first installment of her excellent series The Brittler Sisters, and I have to say, I’m now completely hooked on Josephine’s books!
Josephine recently released the third installment in The Brittler Sisters series, Charlotte earlier this month. I was excited to be able to interview Josephine in honor of her new release to ask her a few questions about the new book, her writing process, her favorite holiday, and more…
Me- Hi Josephine! I’m sooo excited that you’re here! To get things started, tell us where you were raised and where you live now.
Josephine Blake- Thank you so much, Liz. I’m honored to be here! Well, I was born and raised in Oregon City, OR. It’s a small town in the Portland Metro area that often gets overlooked. My parents lived on this perfect little plot of land, close enough to the city to be convenient, but far enough away to give it a homey, country feel. There used to be this huge, beautiful vineyard across the street. I remember waiting for the bus at the end of the driveway and looking out over the vines.
My husband and I both grew up in OC, and when we got married, neither of us had any desire to move away. We bought a house on a dead end street beside a massive green space. I used to think I wanted to move farther out into the country, but the longer we’ve lived here, the more I’ve settled in. Now, I don't think you could pry me away from our little house with a wedge. :)
Me- What’s your favorite thing about Oregon, do you have a favorite spot or activity?
Josephine Blake- I love everything about Oregon. Granted, Portland itself might be a bit outlandish for my tastes, but the food there is spectacular. One of my all time favorite things to do is to go caving. It’s like hiking (also a favorite) but underground in the pitch black. It’s just the right amount of thrilling and exerting. We usually have to travel a bit and hunt backroads to find the caves. Bend is the perfect place for it. But I also enjoy wine tasting with my husband. Oregon Pinot Noir is phenomenal, but maybe I’m a little prejudice.
Me- I find that really cool, because I think a lot of us, when we think about Oregon, we tend to think it doesn’t have a whole lot to offer (except interesting history), so to know that it actually offers a wide range of activities is pretty cool! I’ll have to add it to my bucket list. ;)
As someone who has always loved to write, I always want to ask authors, have you always loved to write or did the passion develop over time?
Josephine- I’ve loved to write for as long as I can remember.
Me- Believe it or not, out of the handful of authors I’ve interviewed/spoken to, you’re the first to say that you’ve always loved to write!
So taking that fact into account, when did you first start writing stories/novels? I imagine it was fairly early.
Josephine- Around second grade was when things became a little more concrete. I wrote a series of adventure stories about a pencil with extraordinary powers if I recall correctly. :)
Me- Wow! That’s incredible! Second grade… Gosh I’m not sure I was really into writing at that point, I think mine developed more towards 5th to 6th. :)
How did you get started as an author?
Josephine- For a long time I had settled into the idea that it wasn't possible. Then my older brother started a business that let him follow his dreams. He’s very musical, my brother. I’m very proud of him. I watched— and listened— to him growing, and the enthusiasm with which he spoke of his passionate schemes, and something clicked into place. The old feeling…. If he can do it, why can't I?? He’s helped me so much. From tiny, piddly things like helping me figure out a newsletter, to marketing strategies and encouragement.
I started writing, small articles at first on a freelance basis, and then short stories. Before I knew it, I was writing my own. I wouldn’t change the way I got into this, because starting small allowed me to get a grasp of the industry, and pick up things from the people I worked for. Many of my clients were kind enough to add help and advice. I watched how they created storylines for me to work from, and it gave me a foundation on which I could build.
Me- Your story and mine are fairly similar in that we both started out small, freelancing and working our way up through the business. Of course the difference is that I haven’t graduated to writing novels yet. ;)
How many books have you written so far?
Josephine- I just published my sixth. I have a collection of short stories and novellas, and I’m working on completing my first series.
Me- As a writer myself, I’m always curious about how authors go about writing. Could you tell me a bit about your writing process? Do you outline your stories or do you just start writing? Do you model your characters after real-life people (either in your own life or maybe an actor?) Do you listen to certain music? Do you write at a certain time (like mornings or nights)?
Josephine- My writing process is a little of this and that. Half the time, when I draw up a plot line, my characters grab hold of it and yank me in another direction. I try to start with some sort of outline, but mostly, I just write and go where the story takes me.
My characters aren't based on real people. In fact, they are rather… themselves. Sometimes, I’ll overhear or see someone in a crowd and think to myself: “That reminds me of Dianna.” or Charlotte. Even Little Rose. Samantha Brittler is a tough cookie. I see her in everyone. My characters tend to invent themselves. They are already present before I see their qualities in someone else.
I often listen to a combination of classical and rock music, preferring instrumentals for the quieter bits of story. Occasionally, the flow of the words will change pace with the music.
At the moment, I write whenever I have time. I’m a busy girl. I don't do well standing still. I seem to feel my best when I’ve an overflowing plate of tasks to accomplish.
Me- I love what you just said about your characters being themselves, and not inspired or based on anyone. I’m currently working on my first book and I feel the same way about my two main characters so far. They are definitely their own personalities, existing all on their own.
Another question I really love to ask authors is about their love of reading. Have you always loved reading or did you learn to over time?
Josephine- I’ve always loved to read. My dad used to read to us out of this giant book called “Uncle Remus Stories.” He’d do all the voices. I loved it. My mom and my brother read to me too. My mom was always a reader. Still is. Reading was big in our family when I grew up. I’ve always had a book in my hand.
Me- What author has had the most influence/impact on you as a writer?
Josephine- Oh man, that’s a toughy. Well, all of the authors that I’ve met, whether in person, or online, they’ve been supportive, wonderful people, especially the other authors of The Rumor Mill. They’re always ready to jump onboard whatever crazy project I’m coming up with. In all honesty though, I love J.K. Rowling. I listen to the Harry Potter books on audio almost daily.
Me- Lol, I have to make a confession: I have never read the Harry Potter books, and I’m not even sure why because they were HUGE when I was in school!
What are a few of your favorite authors?
Josephine- Agh! Don't tell me that. HP is amazing! Favorite authors? Well, J.K. Rowling. But, generally my favorite is whoever I’m reading at the time. The same goes for my favorite books. ;)
Me- What are you currently reading? Any recommendations? ;)
Josephine- Jojo Moyes’s Me Before You. It’s great so far. As for recommendations, I highly recommend any of the authors in The Rumor Mill. I love those ladies.
You recently released your third book in your excellent The Brittler Sisters series, Charlotte, on March 1st. I admit that I’ve come late to the series and just finished Dianna (the 1st in the series), but I have the rest of the series and am currently working my way to Charlotte!
Can you tell us a bit about the book?
Josephine- Well, Charlotte wrote her own story. I felt like I was just along for the ride. She prides herself on being levelheaded, and quite different from her elder sister, Dianna. Come to find out, she inadvertently finds herself in the midst of chaos, and decides she rather likes it.
Her beau though… you’ll have to decide for yourself. Forget reformed rake. Try to reform the son of a con artist.
Me- Oh boy, sounds like it’s going to be another page turner! ;) I can’t wait to read it!
What made you decide to write this series?
Josephine- Well, again, with blatant honesty, I’d had enough of writing for other people. I had this one idea locked away in my head since I was about… oh, I don't know.. fifteen? Boom. Dianna was conjured into existence.
Me- What was the inspiration, if any?
Josephine- My dad and grandpa, they’re the cowboys in my life. Rough and tumble types. My husband, he’s the overprotective sweetheart who takes me on adventures. He’s also my encouragement, my brain, and the influence for the love in all my books. I didn’t know love until I found him. I’d seen it, between my parents, my grandparents, even my older brother and his wife, but the good kind of love is the kind that is your own. Trust me, without him, I’d be writing horror novels.
Me- Lol now THAT’S an interesting thought…. Dianna with a horror twist ;)
Could you tell us a bit about the process of creating and developing the characters?
Josephine- Yeah, maybe Dianna and zombies?! ;) As far as character development, like I said, they do that on their own, at least for me. :) Sometimes I’ll look up a certain skin tone so that I don't get their coloring wrong in my head. Ex: olive tone. Lol. But other than that, my heroines and heroes, and even the side characters, they pop into being as they are. I’m convinced that I have very little to do with it.
Me- Was the development process easier this time around due to the fact that this is the third in a series, therefore some of the characters and background details have already been introduced in earlier installments?
Josephine- Maybe in a way, but I still had to battle my way through the storyline. Re-capping is really not my favorite way to write.
Me- I would imagine trying to recap enough so that the reader isn’t lost but not too much so you’re not retelling the whole story could be a bit tedious.
I HAVE to ask, will there be more installments in The Brittler Sisters series?
Josephine- Definitely, I've got three more books planned for these girls. I can’t leave stories untold.
You’ve been a busy lady! On top of releasing Charlotte, continuing that series, you also recently released a Valentine’s Day novella titled Two Hearts One Stone, which by the way, has an absolutely beautiful cover! Given that both Charlotte and Two Hearts One Stone were released around the same time, with only a few weeks in between, I assume they overlapped in the writing stage. Did they indeed overlap?
Josephine- Not exactly, I waited until Charlotte was in the editing stages before I let myself jump into writing Two Hearts One Stone.
Me- How did the novella come to life?
Josephine- I love Valentine's Day. I LOVE it. What can be more fun to celebrate than love? It doesn't have to be between you and your significant other either. My parents and I exchange Valentine’s gifts. There’s not a thing wrong with reaching out to those around you and telling them how much you care. So I took my love of Valentine’s Day and I let it explode into a town called Churchgrove, and as I started writing, Henry sidled into the frame and scowled. The rest is history. ;)
Me- I also love Valentine’s Day but for a different reason. Though I do agree that it’s not just a day for couples, but for celebrating all kinds of love, my main reason for loving the holiday is because it happens to be the day I got my fur-baby, Sophia (she’s a rescue). So for the last 5 years I’ve called it Sophia Day. ;)
Was it tricky writing two different stories around the same time?
Josephine- The only difficult part about writing so much is that occasionally my fingers will type the wrong person’s name. I still type DIANNA sometimes on accident.
Me- Tell me a bit about Two Hearts One Stone.
Josephine- I love this story so much. The idea of this grouchy ‘ole guy being tossed into the middle of one of the most frivolous celebrations ever. Man, Henry was a hoot. I loved writing him. I never knew what was going to come out of his mouth next. The dinner scene with Miss Hadisham, I thought she might have to tell him to stuff a sock in it.
Me- Lol that sounds hilarious! I can’t wait to read it!
Now for a Few Fun questions from the fans ;)
I also really liked What if, V for Vendetta. How to be Single. I’m obsessed with Downton Abbey. Although I know that’s a show, not a movie. I can watch any period drama and fall apart at the seams. I love them. Pride and Prejudice. Becoming Jane. Reign…. Really if it's Historical, I’m gonna watch it. I could go on forever, too hard to pick favorites.
Me- Well, I suppose I have to bring this to an end at some point, lol. But I do have one last question for you. As I mentioned earlier, I’m currently working on my first novel, and the heroine’s name is actually Josephine, but everyone calls her Joey. So I was wondering, do you have any nicknames? :)
Josephine- Nicknames. Hmm. Occasionally, I get Jo or Jojo. Sometimes people just abbreviate my name. “Hey, J.” Lol.
Me- I’ve had a blast! I’m so glad and thankful that you agreed to this interview! I truly appreciate it! Do you have any last words to add before we sign off?
Josephine: Only that I’m incredibly excited for you!! I can't wait to read your first book, and if you ever have any questions at all, please feel free to reach out! Thank you so much for having me here!!!
I want to thank Josephine one last time for taking the time out of her busy schedule to do this interview with me. Y’all be sure to check her latest release, Charlotte, along with the rest of her catalogue. ;)
Keep up with Josephine Blake through her website: http://www.awordfromjosephineblake.com/
Also check out The Rumor Mill on Facebook!: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Finest.Historical.Romance.TheRumorMill/?ref=bookmarks&qsefr=1
Liz Austin. Bibliophile. Writer. Book hoarder. I would rather be reading....