Friday, May 27, 2011

A Visit With Author Bonnie Calhoun

My special guest today is Bonnie Calhoun. If I were to describe Bonnie as multi-talented, richly knowledgeable about so many different things, eager to help, and humble, it all would be an understatement! I first met Bonnie on-line when I joined ACFW, and then face-to-face at a conference two years ago. My hope is that you too will enjoy this interview and if you haven't met Bonnie yet, will look forward to doing so. Bonnie is looking forward to hearing from you!

Interview with Bonnie Calhoun on Writing, Conferences, and Chickens:

     With a military background as well as owning your own clothing design business, how did you end up writing a Christian suspense novel?

Being in the military was more than 30 years ago. LOL…that is a whole lifetime, so it really doesn’t have much effect on who I am today. In fact…who I am today is probably not who I’ll be tomorrow since I barely remember what I had for breakfast yesterday let alone what I did. Designing clothes has been part of my life just like breathing. My mom was a Master Pattern maker for all of the factories in my home town when I was growing up. So I was sewing from the time I could use a needle at about seven. Still…none of that has anything to do with me liking suspense. I just have one of those “what-if” minds that can think up bizarre scenarios even in my sleep. My favorite TV programs are all of the current suspenses like NCIS, CSI, Criminal Minds etc…I don’t know if the correct term is “Christian suspense” basically I create suspense and it just happens to happen to people that are Christians

Tell us about your journey to publication? What has the experience taught you about Bonnie Calhoun the person and Bonnie Calhoun the author?

Basically it taught me that I have a lot more patience than I ever thought I had. And I learned to lean on the Lord a lot more for His understanding. I lost the anxious feeling about wondering when I would get published, because I had a talk with the Lord several years ago and He told me that when He thought I was ready it would happen…and not a day before, unless I wanted to take it out of His hands and do it myself. So I just continued to study, learn to write, and prepare myself for the adventure.

Looking back, would you say you’ve had obstacles to overcome en route to seeing your first book published or stepping-stones?

For this adventure…definitely stepping stones. Our Lord is a Lord of order, and things in this industry have to be accomplished in a specific order. No one…and I mean no one can put an obstacle in the Lord’s path, so all I had to do was stand behind Him and let Him lead the way across the stones. It reminds me of the joke about the fishermen trolling on a creek. The first three easily appeared to walk on water when they needed to cross the creek to get a sandwich from their supplies or another bottle of water. The fourth man had watched them all day, marveling at their ability. So when he became hungry, he charged across the creek and disappeared under the water. One of the first three men looked at the other two and said, “Didn’t anybody show him where the stones were to walk on?”

Your name has become synonymous with nearly all things falling under that big word authors need to master: PUBLICITY. Any advice to the pre-published, the newly published, and the multi-published author?

      Yikes! Moi? I guess it just comes from determination and lots of practice. I didn’t know a single thing about anything when I started. I could barely turn on a computer, and the internet was a big scary place. But I was determined to learn, and I was determined to invest the time it takes to learn. You can’t do it all in one day, but you need to spend time EVERY DAY working on your internet presence, building your tribe, becoming part of communities, learning the mechanics and the mediums…and giving of yourself to others to help with their needs. The Lord loves a cheerful giver, and He rewards that with returning to you, people who are willing to invest in you with teaching

Please tell us a little about your novel COOKING THE BOOKS coming out in April 2012 by Abingdon Press.

Welcome to my life. I, Sloane Templeton had a fabulous, thought-provoking and exciting job as an internet forensics investigator for the black ops Cyber Crimes Unit that the CIA was developing at New York University. That was, until that good-for-nothing husband I had decided to hook my star to, decided that I was better as a punching bag than a significant other, and I had to flee New York City and move back to Brooklyn.
Just six months back and already my dear mother, God rest her soul, decided there was more pressing business with Jesus, and deserted me for a glorious Homegoing, leaving me to deal with the lunatic fringe that had become her life.
There’s Felicia Tyler, better know as Fefe, bright red, tightly permed hair, wearer of noisy jewelry and ungodly bright spandex. She’s the half-batty manager of mom’s bookstore, and the batty part plays with loaded guns.
Then comes aunt Verline Buford, mom’s younger sister, who fancies herself as the Iron Chef, when in reality you need a cast-iron stomach to partake of her disasters. She had her last husband die of food poisoning, but they swear that she didn’t cause it. Just to be safe, I take a food tester when I go to her house, usually picking whoever I’m mad at that day as the sacrificial lamb.
And last but by no means the least of my worries, the Granny Oakleys book club, a strange bunch of little old people from the neighborhood that meet at the store once a week and smell like food. I don’t exactly know what they do, but I’ve never see any of them with a book.
Oh, and let’s not forget that I did the ‘from the frying pan into the fire’ routine, and left the punching bag prize fighter to come home and hook up with a homicidal maniac. Heh, heh…got your attention didn’t I. Well he’s not exactly a maniac in the most literal of terms, but there are rumors about the homicidal part that I’d rather ignore, especially since I kicked him to the curb, and found my dream man…the love of my life…the pièce de résistance. Never mind that mom thought he was the wrong color and Fefe just plain don’t cotton to him. But it’s all good. We are the world. And it’s a purely rhetorical question…But what else could possibly go wrong?

Which part of writing do you enjoy the most?

It’s all about the same to me. I love plotting, writing and even editing!

Your spoon stirs many simmering pots these days—what is your secret for self-balance? Do you indulge in any Bonnie-downtime?

ROFLOL…downtime consists of writing HTML code or some such project. It really relaxes me.

You’re on the faculty at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference (where I’ve had the pleasure to meet you face-to-face for the first time a couple of years ago) and the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. Do you have any suggestions for attendees at any writers’ conference on how to maximize the experience?

Most definitely! Do your homework before you come. Read the faculty rosters. Understand what they are looking for as editorial needs. Go to their websites and look at the things they have acquired already and see where you would fit in that dynamic…and I can’t say it enough times…DO YOUR HOMEWORK BEFORE YOU COME!

In helping me prepare a one-sheet you gave me some wonderful advice on why I shouldn’t incorporate a photo of a chicken. These gals are my neighbor's feathered friends over for a visit. LOL. Now, seriously, whether on a symbolic or religious note, have you any last bit of advice on writing and chickens? 

Yea…writing is like chicken soup…it will sooth the soul. Never try to fry a roasting chicken ‘cause they’re tough as all get-out. And always open the chicken coop door with a pitchfork in front of your face (that’s a story for  another time ☺ God bless!

Author Bio of Bonnie Calhoun:

Founder/Owner, Christian Fiction Online Magazine
Owner/Director, Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

Bonnie is the Director of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, a 220+ member organization that conducts weekly blog tours for the latest in Christian fiction from the major publishing houses.

She also is the Publisher of Christian Fiction Online magazine, featuring 35+ of the best and brightest in Christian fiction as columnists and feature writers.

As a Google certified Blog*Star on the Blogger Help Forum, Bonnie dispenses advice and direction to people experiencing problems with the blogging platform.

 She is the Northeast Zone Director for the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).

And she is a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA)

And she is also permanent staff/faculty for the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference every August, and the Colorado Christian Writers Conference every May.

And she is also a debut author with a novel under contract to Abingdon Press Her first novel, entitled Cooking The Books(A Sloane Templeton Story) will be published in spring of 2012.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Mountains, the Ocean, and Body Piercings—Firsts for a Texas Girl by Celia Yeary

My guest today is fellow writer Celia Yeary. With a tag line of:  Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas one can tell that Celia loves everything Texas! Here she'll share with you her childhood tale of a road trip she took with her family to California. Imagine a simpler time in society before the computer . . . and treasure the closeness of family. Celia would love to hear from you.

Mountains, the Ocean, and Body Piercings—Firsts for a Texas Girl
By Celia Yeary

Decades ago when I was eight years old, my parents decided to drive from the West Texas Plains to Long Beach, California to visit Mother’s sister and her family. Imagine the days of no commercial television and no air conditioners in cars. We owned a 1940 Ford, and knowing that we would drive many miles across desert, Daddy bought a canvas water bag to hang over the radiator cap. “This might save our lives,” he said, “or we might need it if the radiator boils over.” Wow, I could hardly wait.

So, off we go across New Mexico, Arizona, and California to the coast. I am the middle of three sisters, so I usually had to sit between them in the back seat, with the “hump” in the floor under my feet. While it wasn’t as bad as circumstances were for the Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath, I only remember having a good time. I suppose this is God’s way of taking care of innocent children.

When the first mountains came into view in the far distance, the blurry sight entranced me so much, Mother made one sister trade places with me. She probably did this because I was near-sighted but did not own a pair of glasses at that time. Since the temperature soared to around 110 degrees, we drove with all the windows down. To have the best view the mountains, I stuck my head partially out the window. Even though the wind almost blew my head off, if I squinted I could make out the shape of the peaks and the snow on tops of a few.

After three days of grueling travel, we arrived at our aunt’s house in Long Beach. Her name was Irene, but we called her Aunt Sister, because Mother called her Sister. The beach wasn’t visible from her house, but late in the day, we walked down to the edge of the water. The roar of the ocean, the gentle splashing of the waves, and the blue-gray water scared me. I’d never seen anything so immense, so vast.

The day before our visit ended, Aunt Sister took me by the hand and led me to a back bedroom. She closed the door and told me to sit on the dresser stool. “Sweetie,” she said, “I have some beautiful gold earrings I bought the day you were born, and I’ve saved them just for you. Would you like to see them?”

“Uh-huh,” I said, loving earrings, because Mother always wore a pair in her pierced ears.

The earrings lay in a small white leather case lined with felt. She opened it so I could see. “They’re so beautiful,” I told her, and asked, “Can I touch one?”

Aunt Sister explained that the small 18-karat gold hoop earrings were mine, as soon as I allowed her to pierce my ears. I jumped up from the stool and said, “Do it now.” She questioned me a little until she was sure. Then, as I sat on the dresser stool and watched in the mirror, she pierced my ears. (Those with a weak stomach may hit the mute button.) First, she put clothespins on my earlobes to deaden them. Then she dipped a needle with white thread in alcohol, removed one clothespin, held a cork to the back of my earlobe, and shoved the needle through the lobe, and tied the ends in a knot. She repeated the process on the other side, and dabbed each one with Campho-Phenique. She opened my hand, placed the case in my palm, and kissed and hugged me. All this time, no one knew Aunt Sister had pierced my ears—not even Mother.

On the drive back to Texas, I carried my special gifts in my hands—the small case that held the earrings in one, and a bottle of medication to dab on my ears every few hours in the other. And in my heart? Precious memories of love, generosity, nature’s wondrous creations, and a road trip I’ve never forgotten.

Guest Bio
  Celia Yeary is a seventh-generation Texan, and her life revolves around family, friends, and writing. San Marcos has been her home for thirty-five years. She has eight published romance novels, two “coming soon” novels, short stories in anthologies, articles, and essays with a local magazine. The author is a former science teacher, graduate of Texas Tech University and Texas State University, mother of two, grandmother of three, and wife of a wonderful, supportive Texan. Celia and her husband enjoy traveling, and both are involved in their church, the community, and the university.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Priorities by Caroline Clemmons

My guest today is author Caroline Clemmons from Texas. Caroline writes contemporary and historical fiction. I've met Caroline online on the Wild Writers loop, a private loop of really not wild women but very sweet and caring friends. With weather of all sorts raging in the US this year, Caroline shares with us her own experiences and poses a fascinating question for all of us to ponder. She'd love to hear your comments!

PRIORITIES by Caroline Clemmons

One of my favorite movies is “Leap Year,” starring Amy Adams and Matthew Goode. In the movie, Goode’s character asks Adams, “If your home was on fire and you had 60 seconds to grab something, what would it be?” Great question. Decades ago my aunt’s home caught on fire and she grabbed the first things she saw as she ran from the house. Unfortunately, those happened to be a stack of magazines and a broom. Priorities?

Several years ago, grass fires reached within a quarter mile of our rural home. A quarter mile looks a very short distance when billowing smoke rolls toward you! In the unincorporated areas of a county, residents’ greatest fear is fire. There are no fire hydrants and a home’s well cannot generate enough water to make a difference.  At least, the wells in our area cannot. Volunteer firemen--once they get the call and get to the station (another problem)--race with a pumper truck of water to fight the blaze. At most, they can spray the home’s roof to prevent the spread of burning grass to the dwelling. A fire inside a home usually means a total loss. 

As we watched the fire’s progress years ago, my husband and I discussed what we would remove and how we’d pack. You’d be surprised how your priorities change when faced with a life and death situation. Who cares about furniture or knick-knacks or a wide screen TV? We planned to take pets, tax files, family information, one family painting, and photos. Oh, and a few clothes. No, we’re not clotheshorses by any means. ;-)  We strategized how we’d load the car and pickup, who’d take what, and estimated how long it would take--longer than sixty seconds, but we figured twenty minutes would work.
Recent weather disasters have once again opened discussion between my husband and me about what we could salvage should our home be threatened. Grass fires to the west of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex sent ash raining on us. Hundreds of people lost homes, livestock, pets, and some lost their lives. Those not touched by the fire have allergies and sinus and respiratory infections from the ash and dust. Unpleasant, but nothing compared to total loss. 

Our priorities haven’t changed. As for loading? We’re slower now and it would probably take me twenty minutes just to capture our shy tabby from under the bed.

If you had 60 seconds to save just one thing, what would it be?

Here's what I'd save:

That's my husband and me in one of my favorite photos at a birthday party given him by friends.

Guest Bio: Caroline Clemmons writes romance and adventures—although her earliest made up adventures featured her saving the West with Roy Rogers. Her career has included stay-at-home mom (her favorite job), newspaper reporter and featured columnist, assistant to the managing editor of a psychology journal, and bookkeeper. She and her husband live in rural North Central Texas with a menagerie of rescued pets. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family, reading, travel, browsing antique malls and estate sales, and genealogy/family history. Her latest contemporary and historical romance releases in print and e-book include THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE, OUT OF THE BLUE, a novella in the Civil War anthology NORTHERN ROSES AND SOUTHERN BELLES, and the upcoming July release, HOME SWEET TEXAS HOME. Her novella SAVE YOUR HEART FOR ME is available as a download only. Her backlist of contemporary and historical romance is now at Smashwords and Kindle. Read about her at or her blog at  She loves to hear from readers at 

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