Friday, August 22, 2014

Lisa Watson: What's That Whisper You're Hearing About Your Writing?

Everyone's Story welcomes multi-published author Lisa Watson. When Lisa contacted me to ask about appearing on this blog and I saw that she wrote romances (her guideline is creating a story that her mother would enjoy reading) and novels with a Christian bent I couldn't wait to host Lisa. In addition to writing, Lisa's exciting background includes hosting a radio program and a co-publicist for RT BookReview Magazine's annual RT Booklovers Convention. Lisa shares her beginning adventures into the world of writing, and offers a fun BookGiveaway. We're both looking forward to hearing from you.



Book Giveaway:
Lisa is offering several different Giveaways to  randomly chosen commenters: a choice between 1 autographed copy of HER HEART'S DESIRE or a Kindle download of either HER HEART'S DESIRE or LOVE CONTRACT to 2 lucky readers. The winners will be announced here on Friday, August 29th, between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!



Be still…be open…be listening by Lisa Watson

I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t completely in love with reading, and writing. In fact, my journey from aspiring to published author can literally be summed up in four words: Right place, right time. In 2002, I was a stay-at-home mother of two small children. A closet writer, it was my love of the popular 1980’s television series, Remington Steele that prompted me down the road to publication. Discovering several websites where people wrote original fan fiction based on the characters from the show was like finding an unlimited supply of pancakes—and I love pancakes. Something clicked inside me, prompting me to write my own stories, put them on the Internet and see what happened.

What happened next scared me to death. I began receiving emails from readers all around the world that were enjoying my stories, and prompting me to continue writing them. I was stunned that people were not only reading what I had to say, but also eagerly awaiting my next chapters. During that time, I also stumbled across information on the Romance Slam Jam Writers convention. I’d never gone to a conference before, but couldn’t ignore my sudden and overwhelming urge to attend. When I discussed it with my husband, he said go, have a good time. What!? That’s when I knew there was more to this than my husband’s surprising thumbs up. This gentle prompting must’ve been Heaven sent.  

It was one of the best decisions I’d ever made, and it changed my life. Aside from having the time of my life and soaking up as much knowledge as I could, I met other aspiring writers, published authors that I’d always read, but never dreamed I’d meet. I learned valuable ways to improve my craft, made lifelong friends, I was given the opportunity to write a novella for an anthology that would later be published.

Sometimes the path you’re supposed to take, or the gifts you’re meant to receive don’t arrive with large fanfare, flashing lights and hoopla. Sometimes it’s a subtle whisper in your ear, a thought that pops into your head, or a gut feeling. It’s these moments where you have to be still…be open…and be listening.

We all have spiritual gifts. Whether we use them is up to us. The key is to be open to what comes your way, and to have a positive attitude. When you’re open and receptive to life’s possibilities, everything falls into place and there are no limits to what you can do. Each blessing I’ve received has been about my being in the right place, right time. I’ve trusted that if it was presented to me…I was supposed to go with it.

When my agent asked if I wanted to write Devotionals for the popular Guideposts publication, Mornings with Jesus 2013, I had a moment of panic because I’d never written devotionals before, but I realized that I was supposed to accept it, and I did. I trusted that when the time came, I would be guided to write what I needed to and from the heart … and I was.

For the last ten years, I’ve been the co-publicist for the RT Booklovers Convention. In this capacity I’ve been surrounded with people I never imagined I would meet and yes, I still get star struck when I meet authors that I’ve been reading since I was a teenager. My dream of writing for Harlequin has come true, I’ve become the new host of Reader’s Entertainment Blog Talk Radio show, and my newest novel, Her Heart’s Desire hit Number One on Amazon.com’s bestsellers list and I know this is just the beginning of my blessings.

My advice to aspiring authors? Surround yourself with like-minded people. Go to writers conventions. There are plenty to choose from, and some may be coming to your area. There are workshops, meets and greets, book signings, agents, editors, publishers that attend that are always looking for new talent. Editors are not going to come knocking on your door for you to give them your manuscript to publish—you’ve got to go to them. 

Be still…be opening…and be listening.

Lisa's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Meet Lisa Watson: a multi-pubbed author who followed God’s nudging. (Tweet This)

#BookGiveaway of Lisa Watson, author of Harlequin’s #Kamani line. (Tweet This)

What advice does Lisa Watson, co-publicist for RT Booklovers Convention, have for authors? (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
A native of Washington D.C., Lisa Watson writes multicultural novels.  Having her debut novel nominated for Best Contemporary Fiction, sparked Lisa to continue creating engaging storylines, strong characters with universal appeal, and a keen sense of humor. 

Lisa loves traveling, so weaving beautiful destinations into the pages of her novels as lush backdrops, or the heritage of her characters is not uncommon.

Lisa's first series for the Harlequin's KIMANI™ line, The Match Broker series, introduced readers to Love Contract, and matchmaking guru, Norma Jean Anderson, aka The Love Broker.  Her goal is to have her son, Adrian, and everyone in his immediate circle of friends, happily married—period.  Book two in the series, Her Heart’s Desire, was released in May 2014, and hit #1 on the Amazon Bestseller list.  Look for book three, Love by Design in October 2014.
   
Lisa works at a technology-consulting firm, is the co-publicist for RT BookReview Magazine's annual RT Booklovers Conventions, and the host for Reader’s Entertainment Radio show.

Married for eighteen years, with two teenagers, and a Maltipoo, Brinkley, Lisa lives outside Raleigh, NC and is avidly working on her next series.

Places to connect with Lisa:


Friday, August 15, 2014

Mary J. Forbes: Why Family And Strong Women Are Necessary Elements In Fiction

Everyone's Story welcomes best-selling multi-published author Mary J. Forbes. I've been blessed to know Mary for years now, having met her back in my RWA days. I just wish we lived closer than the 3,000+ miles that separate us, but then again, this is true of my many incredible, talented friends. Mary, having written romance novels for the Silhouette Special Edition line, is now not only writing women's fiction but is self-publishing. Please join Mary this week as she shares an excerpt, her thoughts on family and strong women characters, and answers a few questions. Both Mary and I look forward to hearing from you.


Giveaway:
Mary is offering one $5 Amazon Gift Card, which is perfect for either purchasing her novel HOME SECRETS or any other e-book(s) of your choice, to one randomly chosen commenter. The winner will be announced here on Friday, August 22nd, between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!




Excerpt from HOME SECRETS, Book 1 of the Hawkes Landing Series:

 HOME SECRETS by Mary J. Forbes

        The sky had lightened to a clear blue when she closed the door, stepped onto the stoop and inhaled the perfume of white lilacs crowding the corner of her little house. The sun had burned away the low-lying fog, and conveyed a fecund odor of warmed earth. Lily hurried down the stoop stairs and headed for the warehouse. At the entrance of the wide roll-back door, she discerned movement within the murky interior. I have an excuse to hide in the gloom. What’s yours, Mr. Montgomery?
         Her steps faltered. She waited for her vision to adjust. Ready or not, here I come.
         He leaned against the hood of the old, white Ford 150 Joy had parked there so Lily could use the garage for her glasswork. Ankles and arms crossed, he was a tall rangy man with large hands and wide wrists, and an eagle’s head tattooed on his right forearm. Prison residue?
         Once, years ago, Effie had mentioned her son lived an exemplary life in California. What that entailed neither she nor Joy disclosed, and Lily had never asked. Grey Montgomery, it seemed, was a blemish his family wanted to hide.
         Until Effie begged Joy to call him home before it was too late.
         “Looking for me?” he drawled.
         Lily tensed. She stood backlit by the sun, her outline clearly visible to him. Squaring her shoulders, she asked bluntly, “Have you decided?”
         “About what?”
         “Selling the farm? That’s why you’re here, isn’t it?”
         He pushed off the truck and ambled toward her. The image of a big male lion sizing up a gazelle flashed through her mind.
         From somewhere he’d located a blue bandana—likely a hip pocket—and was in the process of wiping his hands. “My mother,” he said, “wants it producing again.”
         “And you?”
         “Doesn’t matter what I want. For now Mama holds the deed.”
         “But she won’t be—” Around much longer. Had she nearly spoken the words aloud? Had she become calloused to Effie’s inevitable death? Effie, who had given Lily a home on her quiet ancestral land when no one else would.
         Montgomery’s gaze softened. “I know.” The emotion in his tone surprised her. “That’s why I’m home.”
         “Forgive me.” Shoving her hands into the pockets of the hoodie, she headed back outside and started for the field road through the maple thicket. Up by the big house, the garage and Scene-In-Glass waited.
         “Ms. Wheaton.”
         He had wandered out of the doorway and stood bold and stunning as a storm rolling over the mountains. “If I decide to revive this,” he swept a hand toward the raspberry canes and apple trees, “and the place yields again, things might change.”
         She didn’t dare ask what that change might entail. “When would you begin this...revival?”
         “Monday.”
         In four days.
         Lily scrutinized the fields which hadn’t known a tender hand in years.
         “Don’t know much about fruit farming,” Montgomery remarked, following her gaze. “Didn’t pay much attention growing up.” His grin was sudden and crooked. “Maybe I should buy Farming for Dummies.”
         Lily didn’t laugh. Rather, she pictured him at eighteen. Cocky. Brash. Girls on his arm. Beer dangling between his fingers. No, he would not have cared a whit about pruning and harvesting, packing crates and marketing.
         “Well, then,” she said. “Your work’s cut out for you. I won’t stand in your way. Nor will my daughter.”
         “Likewise. It’ll be me. No crews. But it will take a couple of months. You okay with me working around here every day?”
         “Do what you want. It’s your land.”


Why I Write About Family and Strong Women by Mary J. Forbes

Elaine, thank you for inviting me to guest blog on Everyone’s Story. It’s such a pleasure to talk to your readers about writing, a topic dear to my heart, and especially when you asked what I hope to convey in my books.

Where to begin? I’ve always gravitated toward fiction that deals with dark issues and people who are splintered emotionally and/or spiritually. Reading stories that make me cry and laugh and feeling the beauty of healing within the characters is an allure I can’t resist.

For several years I wrote contemporary romances. Home Secrets is my first venture into the more complex arena of women’s fiction. While there still is a love story plaited into the plot, it is not the main focus. Rather, the story embraces the relationships between two damaged women who at first become friends through necessity, and then discover the true meaning of “sisters of the heart”.

All my books—including the shorter romances—reflect real life issues. They zero in on everyday relationships between friends and family as they find the courage to struggle through complexities and individualisms in their home and their community. These issues often are not easy. I’ve included dyslexia, autism, divorce, artificial insemination, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), and prejudice, in my works. Such issues lead to long hours of research—which can be intensely rewarding! I’ve learned a great deal about the heartache and distress some people have endured. And what amazed me most in the real life cases I researched was the strength and power of the human heart. In a couple instances, the simple belief in overcoming adversity was astounding.

It’s that strength and belief I try to convey in every book with every heroine. She embodies the ‘woman’s journey’ in a dozen ways. She is the soul of the story, the rock on whom others rely even while she combats her inner demons. And in its midst she gains confidence, laughter, and the anticipation of something good and stable on the horizon. Something that can evolve into a home and, most importantly, a family.

And so, the old adage family comes first has become my inner mantra while writing each of my books. The characters may be fractured emotionally, they may face overwhelming odds, but when they need a soft place to fall they look over and over again toward home and family. It is the place where healing conquers, hope is nurtured, and love is found at last.

Questions for Mary J. Forbes:
Mary, you’ve shared with us about why you create strong heroines and tell of the “woman’s journey.” Has one specific character you’ve created ever surprised you with a major life lesson or insight you’d like to share?

All my heroines surprise me with the strength they exude in their particular problem or conflict. Sometimes they “write themselves.” By that I mean they show a side I didn’t expect, be it humor or courage in a specific situation. Case in point, I’ve had a heroine become outright audacious when she was known as the ‘quiet one’. And for good reason! More recently, one of the women in Home Secrets displays a beautiful and daring spirit that came out of nowhere when facing the man who changed her life forever at age fourteen.

For me creating and writing heroines is not easy. Too often they don’t truly show themselves until I’m far into the book. That can cause some angst in the process but, more likely, have me banging my head on the keyboard, lol. Truth is I don’t want even the tiniest part of me in the heroine. I want her to be herself. Yet we all know fiction is based on a hodgepodge of human emotions and personalities that flit in and out of our lives.

What similarities and differences have you discovered in writing longer women’s fiction from your shorter romances?

Women’s fiction allows me to dig deeper into my characters. It gives me the freedom to write plots that are darker and perhaps more daring with issues that wouldn’t make the cut in romance. And I love delving into more points of view. In my shorter works, I found it constricting at times not to give a specific character their say when I felt he/she had something important to add to the story. That said, I learned a great deal writing 70,000-word romances. Specifically, how to painlessly cull sentences and words—no matter how much I loved them!—that slowed the pace or didn’t move the plot forward. And I learned how to weave a story chapter by chapter and tie up loose ends in the plot when it was done. 

Any tips on self-publishing you’d like to share with writers who are contemplating the venue of publishing?

Do as much homework as you can on the industry. It won’t be easy, but it will be immensely rewarding. And be prepared to have a LOT of patience! There are only a handful of authors who make it big right out the gate. The rest of us know it will take any number of books for readers to find us. So write that next book and get it out there. Then write another one. And another.

Mary's Ah-hahs To Tweet:

Author Mary J. Forbes: Why Family And Strong Women Are Necessary Elements In Fiction. #Giveaway (Tweet This)

Award-winning author Mary J. Forbes shares jump from category to women’s fiction to self-publishing. (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Mary J. Forbes writes stories with an emotional depth that is reflected in each of her characters. Several of her (Harlequin) Silhouette Special Edition books were Waldenbooks bestsellers, and reached BookScan and Amazon’s respective top 100 lists. Mary loves to garden and especially enjoys the color and fragrances of the flowers she plants each spring and summer. The rain of the Pacific Northwest where she lives with her family is often portrayed in her stories. But once the clouds roll away, her heroes and heroines always find their rainbow waiting on the horizon.

Places to connect with Mary:



Friday, August 8, 2014

Connie Almony: Controlling One's Story, A Different Perspective

Everyone's Story welcomes back with much affection the lovely Connie Almony. Since the first time Connie has appeared on Everyone's Story she has gone on to publish her first novella in Christian fiction. Congratulations, Connie! Whether expressing her musings on her personal blog or the group blog she participates on, or in her moving fiction (her novella is a must read for the inspiring combo of the power of faith and love), Connie zings her message through to the heart. Please check out Connie's Giveaway and her special message below. We're both looking forward to hearing from you.


Giveaway:
Connie is offering one $5 Amazon Gift Card, which is perfect for either purchasing her novella AT THE EDGE OF A DARK FOREST or any other e-book of your choice, to one randomly chosen commenter. The winner will be announced here on Friday, August 15th, between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!


            Blurb for AT THE EDGE OF A DARK FOREST:
Cole Harrison, an Iraq war veteran, wears his disfigurement like a barrier to those who might love him, shielding them from the ugliness inside. He agrees to try and potentially invest in, a prototype prosthetic with the goal of saving a hopeless man’s dreams.

Carly Rose contracts to live with Cole and train him to use his new limbs, only to discover the darkness that wars against the man he could become.

At the Edge of a Dark Forest is a modern-day retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Only it is not her love that will make him whole.

Why I’m My Characters’ God by Connie Almony

One of the things that I love about writing is the way God inserts Himself into the process, revealing something new I needed to know about Him. Yes, I know He is a big, powerful, wise and merciful God, but writing has allowed me a greater glimpse of what all that means.

Why? Because for a little while every day, I AM GOD.

Oh, don’t gasp and call me crazy because you think I have a God complex. Believe me, having had a glimpse of what His job entails I know I wouldn’t want it. Too much responsibility!

What I mean is that, to the characters of my story, the people I birth, the settings I paint, the situations I plan, I am their creator. I decide who lives and who dies, who grows and who remains stuck. I let them fall and create challenges to stretch them. I am their God.

How has that changed me?

Years ago, as a drug-prevention counselor in a narcotics-infested area, I learned how good people could fall prey to their surroundings. If there is no one around, pointing a direction of purposefulness and godliness, a young person will often slip into making destructive choices just because “everyone is doing it.” They don’t know any different. In fact, though the grant funding my position restricted me from counseling drug addicts, our center stretched the word “prevention” to include “preventing from further use” so I wouldn’t be twiddling my thumbs all day. By the time most of these kids got to high school they were either using or their parents didn’t spend much time helping them because they were too busy managing the effects of the “using” child. What some, who have grown up in a supportive, loving, Christian environment, would call dysfunctional was not only normal for these kids, but to them a necessary means of survival.

Courtesy Google Images
When faced with many of the scenarios my clients lived under, I became more cognizant of the wisdom behind God’s statement, “Judgment is Mine.”  I can honestly say, if I’d lived in the environments these kids lived in on a daily basis, I don’t think I would have resisted as much as some of them did. How can I judge them when I do not know the whole story of their lives and have not experienced the same pressures?

You’d think this would have been enough to own the verse mentioned above. But something sunk it deeper into my cells than getting to know my clients from the outside-in. It came with developing my characters from the inside-out. I know their destiny almost from the moment of their birth. I know what they are called to do. I know they will hit hard roads, all of which are of my making, and that those roads will define who they are. I ache for them when they hurt (I even cry as I write) and I rejoice in their triumph. I worry when they sin, because I know how it will impact them down the road. Sometimes, I let them feel the impact of that sin so they will see what God says is true, and therefore trust His loving guidance in the future.

Some of my characters appear to be horrible people … at the beginning. Some are only broken, seemingly weak. But I know what will move them and strengthen them, and so I make them move, because without that movement, they will be forever lost.

This knowledge has given me a new perspective on my relationship with God and His people. I cannot judge someone for their sin because I do not know how they got there (their backstory). I also cannot chastise God for the challenges He places before me, now that I have a better understanding of what He means to do. I will trust Him, because He has given much, and I suspect that though, as the Great Author He is, His stories are fraught with turmoil, His specialty is for Happily Ever After.

Check out Connie's previous appearance on Everyone's Story when she addressed the issue of A Dog With Skin Problems, An Autistic Child, and Heaven Sent Joy

Connie's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Visit with author Connie Almony whose novella is receiving a lot of attention. (Tweet This)

Like Beauty and the Beast stories? How about one with a war-vet, amputee with PTSD? (Tweet This)

Author Connie Almony: Are you God to your characters? Visit Connie on Everyone’s Story. (Tweet This)

Author's Bio and Places To Connect:
Connie Almony is trained as a mental health therapist and likes to mix a little fun with the serious stuff of life. She was a 2012 semi-finalist in the Genesis Contest for Women’s Fiction and was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Winter 2012 WOW Flash Fiction Contest. Her newest release, At the Edge of a Dark Forest, is a modern-day re-telling of Beauty and the Beast about a war-vet, amputee struggling with PTSD.

You can find Connie on the web, writing book reviews for Jesus Freak Hideout, and hosting the following blogs: InfiniteCharacters.com and LivingtheBodyofChrist.Blogspot.com.

You can also meet her on the following social media outlets:


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