Wednesday, August 21, 2013

James R. Callan & A Ton of Gold

 It was my pleasure to interview and learn more about James R. Callan and his books. A Ton of Gold and Cleansed by Fire were both exceptionally written pieces of art and a joy to read. Read more about James in the interview below.


 

Tell us a little about yourself.

JC~ First, let me thank you for having me visit your site today.  I truly appreciate the opportunity you have given me.

Now, to answer your question, I intended to write when I got out of college.  But I soon found I could not support a family writing.  So, I went back to graduate school but switched to mathematics. For many years, I worked in mathematics and computer science, received grants from the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Data Processing Management Association.  Many years later, I realized the kids were all grown and self-supporting and I could return to my first love writing.  Mostly I write mystery/suspense novels. But I have had non-fiction books published in math, computer science, and recently on writing.

Tell us a little about your latest novel.

JC~ My latest novel is A Ton of Gold. Some time ago, I read an old Texas folk tale, and I wondered how such could affect people today.  Many months later, A Ton of Gold materialized. This folk tale, coupled with greed, causes murder, arson, and kidnapping.  Crystal Moore is in danger of losing her only living relative.  She has to try and discover who the enemy is, and why they would attack a 76 year old woman.

To make matters worse, the man who nearly destroyed Crystal emotionally is coming back. This time, he can end her career. She will need all the help she can get from a former bull rider, a street-wise friend, and her feisty, 76 year-old grandmother.

 How did the idea of writing this book come about?

JC~ Back in my days of mathematics and computer science, I did some research in information retrieval.  And my son now teaches graduate students informational retrieval. So, I had long wanted to do a novel that had some aspects of I.R. in it.  Then I read this old folk tale about a large quantity of precious metal being lost in the days before Texas was a state. I let those two ideas ferment in my mind for awhile until the basic plot of A Ton of Gold emerged.

What do you hope readers will take away from A Ton of Gold?

JC~ First, I hope that they have many hours of enjoyment just reading this tale.  But, I would also like for them to see that greed and the lure of riches can cause people to do terrible things.  And more important, I hope they are reminded that, in the end, money is not worth nearly as much as family and friends

Which of the characters in the novel is most like you?

JC~ That’s a tough one. I never rode bulls, but probably Mark O’Malley is most like me.

Your previous book, Cleansed by Fire, had a strong faith element in it.  How natural was this to write about?

JC~ Very natural.  I have been very close to a number of ministers and people deeply involved in church activities.  Writing about them was easy, and very rewarding.  I’m working on a sequel to Cleansed by Fire and expect it to be published in 2014.

What is your favorite and least favorite part about being a writer?

JC~ I’m willing to bet that my favorite and lest favorite match up with 90% of all writers.  My favorite part is the actually writing, crafting a paragraph that sings, that flows smoothly, that captures the feeling I want to impart to the reader.  I love to do that.  My least favorite part is marketing.  I can enjoy visiting with readers and talking about writing.  But, social media eats up a great deal of writing time.   Sorry. 

What advice would you have for writers hoping to follow in your footsteps?

JC~ Write.  Write every day.  And read.  Read everything, not just in the genre that you write.  And then write some more.

 Other than writing, what occupies your time?

JC~ My wife and I like to travel.  We have been blessed by being able to travel extensively.. Read my blog on Tasmania at http://bit.ly/133AP2g to get a tiny glimpse of a magical island.  We spend a good bit of time in Mexico.  We have managed to visit all fifty of the United States, and you can see amazing sights right here in the U.S.A.  Of course, not only does travel educate and provide grist for stories, but with a laptop computer, you can write as you travel.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Valerie Comer's Raspberries and Vinegar

In Valerie Comer's Raspberries and Vinegar, not only is the reader introduced to a sweet sounding title, but a sweet story, also. Written in a style that is very much like Karen Kingsbury, the story of Josephine Shaw and Zach Nemesek pulls the reader into a whirlwind of accidents, faith, and romance. Set in the northern most part of Idaho, Jo and Zach brings a whole new meaning to trusting in faith. Delightful read that most anyone will enjoy.

Read below for more about Valerie Comer and her book, Raspberries and Vinegar:

Tell us a little about your book and yourself.

I'm Valerie Comer, and my life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of my characters, my family and I grow much of our own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as our creation-care-centric church. I only hope my characters enjoy their happily ever afters as much as I do mine, shared with my husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.

I write Farm Lit with the voice of experience laced with humor.

Breaking ground with the Farm Fresh Romance series, RASPBERRIES AND VINEGAR finds Josephine Shaw and her friends renovating a dilapidated farm with their sights set on more than just their own property. Transforming the town with their sustainable lifestyle and focus on local foods is met with more resistance than they expected, especially by temporary neighbor, Zachary Nemesek. Jo needs to learn that a little sweet makes the tart more tasty.




How did the idea and/or inspiration of writing this book come about?

I'm a farmer and a foodie who is involved in local food advocacy and try to live the life I promote. Our farm provides meat, honey, vegetables, fruit, and nuts, and we can buy other produce and grains locally. Not quite everything we need, but a higher percentage than I would have thought possible five years ago.
As you can see, the idea for my novel—indeed, the entire Farm Fresh Romance series—comes from my experience and that of my family. In particular, I've watched my adult kids grapple with the desire to be more in control of their diet and provide real food for their little daughters.

Your book has a strong faith element. How natural was this to write about?

I can't separate my faith from the rest of my life. I've become fascinated by how little Christians think of their relationship with food other than perhaps that gluttony is sin and we (possibly) shouldn't eat meat that's been sacrificed to idols. Other than that? What do food and faith have in common?
I've come to the conclusion that these topics are intrinsically linked on many levels: yes, within our bodies, but also in our relationship to the church and to the world in which we live. If you or your readers are intrigued by that statement, I'd love to have you poke around my website and think about where food meets faith.

What do you hope readers take away from this book?

I hope they laugh and cry and think just a little bit more about where their food comes from.


Which of the characters in the novel is most like you and why?

I'd have to say the hero's mother. She's lived on the farm a lot of years and gotten tired of the difficulties of the lifestyle. For her, as it did for me, it took a little nudge to remind her of the things that are important.



Who is your favorite Biblical character and why?


I think my favorite changes depending on the current needs in my life. Lately, I've been thinking a lot about Esther, and how Mordecai told her, "Who knows but that you have come to your (royal) position for such a time as this?" While the future of Western civilization does not rest on me as solidly as the Jewish nation depended on Esther, I do believe that God has called me to write what I do "for such a time as this."


What’s your favorite and least favorite part about being a writer?

My favorite part is meeting all the new people in my head, hanging out with them, sharing them with readers, and having readers fall in love with them.
My least favorite is how long and messy the process is. You'd think after having written almost a dozen novels (most of which you will never read—I promise), I'd have things streamlined a bit more, but not yet.


What advice would you have for writers hoping to follow in your footsteps?

Because I've been writing for 12 years and have struggled to find the methods that work for me, I have a lot of advice. So much so that I began a website and email course for beginner-to-intermediate writers who are grappling with the over-all scope of how to write fiction. You can find it at To Write a Story. The email course is free with a weekly lesson that takes the student from planning to plotting, writing, editing, publishing, and marketing. The blog also gets a new post every week on one of the same topics, but in no particular order.

You can also follow @towritestory on Twitter for writing quotes as well as links to the blog posts and course.


Other than writing, what else occupies your time?

This time of year, my garden is practically a full-time job in itself between the watering and weeding, picking, cooking, and processing.
But for fun? I'll read stories to my three little granddaughters (age three and under), bounce on the trampoline with them, or just tickle them. We also love to take our little camping trailer out beside a mountain creek and let God soothe our spirits through nature.

That's the most important thing, isn't it? That we spend time in solitude and silence, drawing strength from our communion with Him.




You can connect with Valerie Comer through the following links:
Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/valeriecomer.author
Twitter at:  http://twitter.com/valeriecomer
Pinterest at: http://pinterest.com/valeriecomer

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sherri Wilson Johnson & Song of the Meadowlark

Song of the Meadowlark by Sherri Wilson Johnson

A strong combination of suspense and Jane Austen style romance, Song of the Meadowlark leads the reader from Georgia to Florida and back again.

Cora's life journey captures the reader in a way that creates an insatiable need to read more, to learn more, and to discover more.

With a strong faith element, Cora's dependence and faith in the Lord shows the reader the epitome of true love and true devotion.

The romantic dance between Cora and Rex is reminiscence of Elizabeth and Darcy. Delightful and beautiful, emotive and suspenseful, Song of the Meadowlark brings back the style of Victorian-era writing--a truly wonderful read.

Learn more about Sherri Wilson Johnson and her book Song of the Meadowlark:


Your novel, Song of the Meadowlark,--tell us a little about it.

SWJ~Song of the Meadowlark is a Contemporary Inspirational Romance full of hope, forgiveness, and second chances at life and love set in South Georgia on a ranch with an ornery cowboy.
Here is Song of the Meadowlark’s synopsis: When trusting others only leads to pain and rejection, and loving ends only in loss, what will it take to restore hope again? Shunned by the uncovered truth about her missing husband’s secret life, Cora Buchanan sets out on a road trip for home to mend her broken relationship with her parents. When her car breaks down, she’s stranded in a small Georgia town. While staying at the struggling Southern Hope Ranch, she meets little Susie O’Reilly, who unexpectedly fills a void in Cora’s heart. But Rex, Susie’s rugged cowboy father who lost his wife a year earlier, seems to go out of his way to either confront or avoid Cora. It doesn’t help her comfort level that the news continues to report missing and murdered women in the area. Cora has no idea just how close to home the crimes will hit…or how much the sweet sound of the meadowlark’s song at the ranch will impact her future.


Sneak a peek at the first chapter! http://sherriwilsonjohnson.com/sherris-books/song-of-the-meadowlark/


How did the idea and/or inspiration of writing these books come about?


SWJ~I had always wanted to write a cowboy story but wasn’t sure I could do it because I’m extremely afraid of horses. I thought it might be kind of foreign to me and that my readers would pick up on it. I originally set it in Wyoming, because that’s where I thought all cowboy books had to be set. But it didn’t flow well because I’ve never been out west. I changed the setting to South Georgia and changed the bird from a Western Meadowlark to an Eastern Meadowlark, and it all fell into place. I wrote this book with the theme of forgiveness and starting over, because those are two topics I know all too well.

What do you hope readers take away from your books?

SWJ~The theme of To Dance Once More, Song of the Meadowlark, and all my other novels (still unpublished) revolves around the purity of both my heroine and hero. I long to encourage my readers (both young and old/married or single) to live a life of purity and to feel the hope of forgiveness when they do not. Whether the book is historical or contemporary, inspirational fiction is the only fiction I will write because it allows me to share Jesus with people who may already know Him, but who are struggling in their walk. To share the message of purity and forgiveness with the world has been one of my greatest longings and writing inspirational romance helps me accomplish that. Therefore, I’m pressing on toward that goal.

Who is your favorite character?

SWJ~I like Cora, the heroine in Song of the Meadowlark, because she’s strong although her circumstances are seemingly impossible and she thinks she’s weak. I like how she grows throughout the book. But my favorite is Rex O’Reilly, the cowboy. He’s ornery and secretive and moody and you just about want to hate him. Until you love him. :)

Other than writing, what else occupies your time?

SWJ~Other than family, I work on our women's ministry team at church. I also have three part-time work-from-home jobs that allow me to contribute to our income while having the flexibility of continuing my writing.


Sherri Wilson Johnson lives in Georgia with her husband and two children. She is represented by Les Stobbe, is a member of the ACFW, a graduate of the Christian Writers Guild writing course, an active blogger, and a former homeschooling mom. She loves to dream of romantic places and romance in general–good, clean romance. She is a bird-watcher, loves the ocean, roller coasters, ice cream, her family and her Chihuahua, who faithfully sits by her side every day when she writes. Sherri is the author of To Dance Once More (OakTara) and Song of the Meadowlark (OakTara) and is a columnist for Habits for a Happy Home and Choose NOW Ministries.

Connect with Sherri:
http://sherriwilsonjohnson.com
https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Author-Sherri-Wilson-Johnson/138396456193536
https://twitter.com/#!/swj_thewriter
http://nicoleodell.com/sherri-wilson-johnson-on-inspiring-purity
http://www.habitsforahappyhome.com
http://pinterest.com/sherriwjohnson/
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5233294.Sherri_Wilson_Johnson
http://www.bookfun.org/profile/SherriWilsonJohnson
http://sherrijinga.wordpress.com

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Sherri Wilson Johnson & To Dance Once More

To Dance Once More by Sherri Wilson Johnson

In the tradition of Lucy Maud Montgomery and Georgette Heyer, Sherri Wilson Johnson has written a beautiful and captivating story chronicling the trials and love of Lydia

Instead of Victorian-era England, To Dance Once More portrayed the conservatism of Victorian-era Florida.

What I found enjoyable was the prose and lyrical writing, drawing me in as though watching each scene play out before me on stage. From heartache to hope, the reader discovers the joy and rewards of sacrifice and waiting for God's plan. Highly enjoyable and a worthy read.

Read more about Sherri Wilson Johnson and her book To Dance Once More

Your novel, To Dance Once More,--tell us a little about it.

SWJ~ To Dance Once More is the story of Lydia Jane Barrington, a Victorian debutante. Lydia lives on a plantation in Florida under the watchful eye of her father. She’s quite an independent young lady who does not want to fall into the trap (as she sees it) that her mother and sisters have fallen into—marriage and motherhood. She wants to travel the world and experience life before giving her heart to a man. One day, her eyes are opened to love and no matter what, she cannot forget the blissful feeling it causes. She begins to believe that love isn’t such a bad thing after all. Then she discovers a secret that prohibits any of her dreams from ever coming true. She begins a quest to free herself and her family from a future of bondage. Hearts are broken and lives are torn apart because of Lydia’s own selfishness. Will she surrender to a call that God placed on her life and be able to experience love after all? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

Here’s a link to the sneak peek: //sherriwilsonjohnson.com/sherris-books/to-dance-once-more/



How did the idea and/or inspiration of writing this book come about?


SWJ~To Dance Once More is a special project originating from my love of pure romance, and inspired by the love stories of my ancestors. It is set in Victorian Florida, which is a combination of two of my favorite things—the beach and Victorian times. Of course, there has to be more to a novel than just the romance and so there is betrayal, sacrifice and a bitter enemy that Lydia must overcome.



Your book has a strong faith element. How natural was this to write about?


SWJ~The faith element is always easy for me to write about. One thing I vowed from the very beginning was that I would never write anything that would shame my dad, who was a preacher, but mainly that would shame my heavenly Father. Because God has been so amazing to me throughout the years and has never left me in the midst of my trials, I can’t help but season my writing with my faith.


What do you hope readers take away from your books?
 

SWJ~The theme of To Dance Once More revolves around the purity of both my heroine and hero. I long to encourage my readers (both young and old/married or single) to live a life of purity and to feel the hope of forgiveness when they do not. Whether the book is historical or contemporary, inspirational fiction is the only fiction I will write because it allows me to share Jesus with people who may already know Him, but who are struggling in their walk. To share the message of purity and forgiveness with the world has been one of my greatest longings and writing inspirational romance helps me accomplish that. Therefore, I’m pressing on toward that goal.



What’s your favorite and least favorite part about being a writer? 

SWJ~I love to write. I love the entire process. The research, the dreaming, the plotting, the actual writing part. I hate waiting to hear YES when I've submitted a proposal!


What advice would you have for writers hoping to follow in your footsteps?

SWJ~I would tell anyone who desires to be a published author--"Prepare your field." That’s a line in the movie Facing the Giants. We always wish for the end result. As writers, we want to be published authors. That sometimes takes precedence over the writing itself. But if you don’t spend time writing and perfecting the craft (preparing your field) then when will the seeds ever take root? If they do take root, how will they ever survive the heat? They will wither and fade. Take courses, join groups, study the craft, and write, write and re-write your work. Be willing to put it aside when another project pops into your head. Come back to the old story and perfect it more. You’ll grow a healthy crop that way.
Whatever you do, don't ever give up on your dream. Step through open doors only after much prayer. Be ready for rejection because it’s part of the path to publication. Always write what God puts on your heart and even if you don’t find a publisher for that story, it will honor the Lord.
Establish yourself on the Internet now. Start a blog. Review books that you’ve read. Make friends on Goodreads and Facebook. Publishers look for that kind of thing.
 

Other than writing, what else occupies your time? 


SWJ~Other than family, I work on our women's ministry team at church. I also have three part-time work-from-home jobs that allow me to contribute to our income while having the flexibility of continuing my writing.
 


Sherri Wilson Johnson lives in Georgia with her husband and two children. She is represented by Les Stobbe, is a member of the ACFW, a graduate of the Christian Writers Guild writing course, an active blogger, and a former homeschooling mom. She loves to dream of romantic places and romance in general–good, clean romance. She is a bird-watcher, loves the ocean, roller coasters, ice cream, her family and her Chihuahua, who faithfully sits by her side every day when she writes. Sherri is the author of To Dance Once More (OakTara) and Song of the Meadowlark (OakTara) and is a columnist for Habits for a HappyHome and Choose NOW Ministries.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Lindon and Sherry Gareis & Declutter Now!

Declutter Now! Uncovering the Hidden Joy and Freedom in Your Life by Lindon and Sherry Gareis

This isn't just a book about Decluttering your house and home, oh, no. This is a book that goes way beyond that. Declutter Now! starts off small, hitting the physical, and then it takes you into the spiritual and emotional side of the psyche. Taken in small steps, Declutter Now! offers insights into the authors' lives, giving examples and testimonies. This isn't just a self-help book. This is a "we'll help you" book.

Lindon and Sherry Gareis not only takes the reader step by step through the decluttering process of the home and life, but shows how and what is the most important in life...and it isn't possessions and material goods. The accumulation of things and bad habits and loss of focus drowns most people in this world, tying them down. With Declutter Now! the reader learns how to do without the extra load and how to free oneself from that worldly hold.

Read more about Lindon and Sherry Gareis and their book, Declutter Now! Uncovering the Hidden Joy and Freedom in Your Life


Your 1st book, Declutter Now!--tell us a little about it.

L&S~ Most of us have clutter in one area of our lives or another. Some of us have it in MANY areas! Declutter Now! Uncovering the Hidden Joy & Freedom in Your Life helps you clean out the clutter in your homes, relationships, finances, careers, with your kids, physical and mental health and even in your spiritual life! Less is More! Less clutter means more time, energy, freedom, money and joy with which to serve God!

How did the idea and/or inspiration of writing this book come about?

L&S~ It was born from our desire to serve God. We were discussing what we needed to do in order to be more available for God when and where he wanted us and the answer was to declutter all that was holding us back!

Your book has a strong faith element. How natural was this to write about?

L&S~ Very natural because the entire reason behind writing the book was based on our faith walk and desire to grow our relationship with Christ.

What do you hope readers take away from this book?

L&S~ We pray that each and every person will feel encouraged and motivated to address the things that are holding them back from enjoying all that God has in store for them. "A great idea will remain only that, just a great idea, unless you put action behind it." It's all about the ACTION!

Which of the characters in the Bible is most like you and why?

Lindon ~ Micah because he saw all the issues around him and stood up for the poor and needy despite the corruption of the government in his day. He spoke out against wrongdoing and I would like to think I take that same stand! Micah also called men to walk humbly before God and this is something I strive to do daily.

Who is your favorite Biblical character?

Sherry ~ This is a tough one because there are so many! My first thought would be David because he is a classic example of someone who messed up over and over again but still found favor with God because of his deep faith and love for Him. I have to add that Job is a very close second!

What’s your favorite and least favorite part about being a writer?

L&S~ Our favorite part about writing is having the ability and platform to share our passion, and the least favorite part is not being able to write full time!

What advice would you have for writers hoping to follow in your footsteps?

L&S~ Persevere. If you believe God is calling you to write and share, then declutter all the unnecessary and unhealthy from your life so you can focus on what is truly important.

Other than writing, what else occupies your time?

L&S~ We love to hike, boat, garden, BBQ and spend time with our grand babies!

Connect with Lindon & Sherry Gareis:
www.actionplanministries.com
declutternow@actionplanministries.com
www.facebook.com/declutternow