Author Interviews, Blog, Sweet Romance Blog

Author Interview: Amy Schisler, Romantic Suspense/ Inspirational

I’m Amy Schisler and I write inspirational fiction on the side of romantic suspense. My most recent release is Seeking Tranquility, Book One in my Chincoteague Sunsets Trilogy, a spinoff of my Chincoteague Island Trilogy. 

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. As a young girl, I wrote poetry to express my thoughts and emotions, and I always said I’d like to write a book someday. After fifteen years as a librarian, I told my husband I was tired of shelving other people’s books and thought it was time to write my own! Here I am, seventeen books, twelve novels, later, and I still have so many ideas for more!

How long did it take you to finish your first book? 

Author:      It took about five years to write my first book. The writing part was easy. The editing and rewriting were tricky, and after a disastrous year with a small press publisher, the final rewrite was pretty painful. 

If you’ve published, how long did your first book take?

Author:      I received so many rejections for my first book, but I did eventually have it published through a small press in Texas. The experience was not what I expected, and I was completely disillusioned. A good attorney helped me get my rights back, and things have gone much smoother ever since. 

Has your publishing timeframe improved at all since your first publication?

Author:      Now, I can write an entire novel in about two weeks. It takes another month or so of editing and rewriting, and then I put it aside for several months before going back and polishing it off. At that point, it goes to my editor for the final edits. 

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:      Today, I’m an indie writer. I did seek out other small press publishers for some of my later novels, but the ones I spoke with felt that I was successful on my own and didn’t need a publisher to do all that I was already doing. However, I am currently seeking a publisher for a Bible study I’ve written, so we’ll see what happens with that! 

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:      When I first began writing, my target audience was romantic suspense and mystery readers. The more I wrote, however, the more my books gravitated toward inspirational fiction. I didn’t really do it on purpose. My books still all contain elements of mystery and suspense, intrigue at the very least, but they all have a faith-inspired backstory that I never intentionally set out to write but happened gradually and continues to be a major theme in my books. 

What is your publishing process?

Author:      I’m not a planner when it comes to my books. I always know the beginning and ending, but I rarely know how I will get from one to the other.  I don’t always write one scene after another linearly either. Often a scene will come to me, and I will write it down then and figure out where it fits in later. I write the first couple drafts over the course of a month or so. I use a few really good beta readers to help stay focused and streamline the plot. After I put it down for several months and then come back to it, I will polish it and send it to my editor. Once she puts her stamp of approval on the finished manuscript, it’s off the audiobook narrator. During that production process, I often find small things that we will work together to tweak. Hearing the book read aloud can make such a difference! Once the audio is complete, the cover and back matter are ready, and the discussion questions are written, it’s ready for publishing! 

What platforms do you use to publish your works?

Author:      I use all platforms to publish my books. They are available anywhere print, audio, and ebooks are found. I distribute through Ingram, Draft2Digital, and Findaway Voices. 

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author:      I use beta readers, proofreaders, and a great editor. 

Marketing

Do you have a platform? What does it consist of?

Author:      I do a lot on social media, especially Facebook and Instagram. My daughter is a professional media marketer, so she has been instrumental in helping me establish a brand, construct a website, and manage posts. I also write a weekly blog focused on everything from family life to favorite recipes to my latest work in progress. 

What is your launch plan for your works?

Author:      I typically launch one book in the summer and one in fall or winter. I love to do big book launches that fit the theme of the book and bring in a crowd. Once, I held a launch at a horse rescue farm to go with my Colorado suspense, Summer’s Squall. Last year, I held a Book and Wine Paring and Dinner to launch my book, The Good Wine. I advertise on social media and my website as well as newspapers and radio. 

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:      Getting reviews is so hard! I often ask friends and family to post, but I also engage blog tours and send ARCs to readers on listservs I belong to.

How do you promote your content?

Author:      I promote through regular media and social media. Recently, I was on an afternoon talk show, and I do lots of interviews and guest spots on podcasts.

What do you think is the most critical marketing component or tactic for becoming successful?

Author:      I think it’s critical to reach out beyond my faithful readers. I’m always looking for ways to connect with more people and get the word out about my books. I attend a lot of festivals and non-book related events where I can spend time talking to people one-on-one about my works. 

How do you define success as an author?

Author:      Success is simply having someone say they loved something I wrote. 

About Your Work

What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic? 

Author:      I primarily write novels because I love to read and I love to write stories. However, I write just about anything that comes to mind! 

What genres and subgenres do you write in?

Author:      My main genre is Inspirational Fiction, but within that, my books are filled with suspense, mystery, intrigue, and almost always, romance. 

What is your author brand (genre, mood, image, theme, message, etc)? How did you decide on it?

Author:      My brand is writing something that inspires. My message is that there is a Higher Power out there Who sends family and friends into our lives to help us discover who we are and what our purpose in life is. This isn’t just a main theme in my fiction. I’m often asked to give talks or lead retreats on discovering one’s purpose and making it the focus in life.  All my books really contain the same theme—love—but not in the way you expect. My books are about much more than romantic love. They’re about love for family, friends, community, and faith. 

How many works have you published? 

Author:      I’ve published twelve novels, two children’s books, two devotionals, and a book for parents and children on saints. 

Can you tell us a bit about your most recent publication?

Author:      After the end of my first Chincoteague Island trilogy, readers continued to ask for more Chincoteague books. Knowing I still had some characters lingering in the background, I decided to create a new trilogy. Being familiar with both the island and nearby Wallops Island Flight Center, I thought it would be fun to add some NASA characters and make their space explorations efforts part of the storyline. 

Setting Christy’s own struggles against the backdrop of an island struggling to regain its place in a world gone mad felt like the perfect fit. After two years of living with fear and uncertainty, when few visitors ventured across the causeway and businesses shut down, everyone on the island is ready to live again. Two years after losing her parents then being forced to sell their home, Christy and her younger sister move to the place where their family found rest and refuge. She feels as if she will never live again, but the island that brought miracles, promise, and hope to many, proves once again the place to go for those Seeking Tranquility.

Name some common elements in your writing: villains, magic, red-herring twists, the unfortunate ensign, mysterious phenomena, asyndeton, sentence fragments etc.

Author:      My writing always contains a hero and/or heroine to root for and, of course, a villain. Typically, the villain is a person, but sometimes it’s a disease, a traumatic past event, or other incident that is getting in the way of the main characters finding peace. All my novels, not just the mysteries and suspense novels, have red-herrings and twists that make the reader say, “Oh! I didn’t expect that!” 

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author:      My goal at first was to become a best-selling author, but my goal now is simply to inspire readers to go where they’ve never been physically, mentally, and spiritually. 

Do you have other supporting services like a podcast, blog, webinars, courses, video channel?

Author:      I have a weekly blog and a growing YouTube channel. I also do lots of public appearances, talks, workshops, and retreats. 

What do you want your readers to get out of your works? 

Author:      I want them to realize that there are all kinds of love just waiting to be found. 

What part of the author process are you working on or studying most now?

Author:      I’m trying to get more public appearances and talks. I love talking to a room of people about my writing and my journey, and I love connecting with readers in person. 

What has been your favorite part of the writing and querying or publishing process?

Author:      I love discovering new people and places through my writing and research. 

Which authors write similar books to yours? How did you find them?

Author:      I’m often told that my writing reminds people of Mary Higgins Clark, which I consider the highest complement of all time. I’ve also been compared to Debbie Macomber and Sheryl Woods, whom I love! I read anything and everything I can get my hands on, so I’m constantly discovering new authors, and they all influence me in some way. 

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?

Author:      I read just about all genres, but I do like to read genres similar to mine to see how authors handle the same types of conflicts, traumas, or character growth. I’m not sure it changes the way I write, but it does give me different perspectives. 

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:      I’m not a planner when it comes to my books. I always know the beginning and ending, but I rarely know how I will get from one to the other.  I don’t always write one scene after another linearly either. Often a scene will come to me, and I will write ii down then and figure out where it fits in later. I write the first couple drafts over the course of a month or so. It typically takes me a couple weeks to write the first draft and a few months to finalize the manuscript. 

Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?

Author:      I network with other writers mostly through Facebook groups but also through local and national author associations. 

Do you sprint-write like a starving cheetah, or are you a totally chill turtle writer? Somewhere in between?

Author:      I’m definitely a sprinter! 

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:      Time! For many years, I wrote between field hockey games and tennis matches and PTA meetings. Now that my three girls are grown and my writing has expanded, I find that I’m in more demand as a speaker and pilgrimage leader, so it can be difficult to carve daily time to write. However, I do try to write or work on some aspect of my work in progress every day. 

How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?

Author:      Write, write, write. Write every day even it’s just a list of ideas or a sketch of a scene. It’s not always easy, but it’s necessary. 

Do you have any tips or recommendations for those who want to go the final step and become authors?

Author:      Just do it. I tell people all the time, if there’s a book inside trying to get out, all you have to do is take the time to make it happen. 

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

Author:      I don’t think I’d change anything. God’s timing is perfect, and everything in my life and career seems to be coming together just as it was supposed to. I’ve learned so much from my mistakes; I’d never want to miss those growth opportunities that have led me to where I am today. 

Are you a driven & self-advocating author, a gun-shy promoter, or a total marketing procrastinator?

Author:      Maybe all three? I’m not a natural at self-advocating, but I’m getting better all the time. I have a wonderful author friend who has helped me learn to put myself out there. It’s not easy, but every event, interview, etc. does help me get better at it. 

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author:      I love what I do, so that makes it easy to stay motivated.  The more I write, the more I want to write, and the more stories and characters come into my mind and heart.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:      I’ve honestly never had writer’s block. Once a story is forming, it just comes without stopping. My husband is wonderful and knows when to just call in a pizza for dinner and bring a slice of pie and a glass of wine to my office! 

How did your family and friends react to your writing? Was it what you expected from them?

Author:      My friends and family have not been merely supportive but active promotors and advocates of and for my work. Sometimes I think my father sells more of my books than I do! My friends are constantly tagging me on book pages and telling others about me. 

What assumptions about writers and authors do you think are myths?

Author:      I often hear that authors are loners or don’t deal well with people or crowds. I haven’t found this to be the case with myself or many of my author friends. 

Fun Stuff 

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      Nothing. I like absolute silence to think and to hear the characters speaking to me.

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:      I have an office that used to be my oldest daughter’s bedroom. When she moved out to go to law school, she and I had a wonderful, bittersweet time cleaning out and redoing the room. We painted it light yellow, and it just feels happy and sunny even on a gloomy, rainy day. 

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      I just finished James Patterson’s 22 Seconds, the latest in his Women’s Murder Club series. I love a good series, be it crime, romance, or small town. 

What is your favorite literary trope?

Author:      Probably time travel. From epics like Outlander to anything by Susanna Kearsley, I love a good time travel book. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Author:      I once attended a writer’s conference in Milwaukee with my dear friend, Alexandra Hamlet. One evening, as Alexandra and I were hanging out in our hotel room talking girl talk, swapping family stories, and comparing writing notes, Alexandra said something to me that was so profound, it completely changed the way I look at my writing. I was telling her that I was a having a hard time with some in the “romance” community because my books don’t always fit the bill, so to speak. 

My dear and wise friend said, “Amy, you do not write romance novels. You write love stories.”

Alexandra and I talked about this at length that evening and continued to come back to it all weekend. She is absolutely correct. All my novels have a romance or two, but it’s rarely the main thrust of the story. More often, there’s an abundance of love going around that doesn’t even involve the love between two people. My books are often about love between man and woman, but they are actually more about the love of family, love of community, love of Country, love of God, and more.  All my books share the common theme of discovering love of oneself.

I wish there was a genre that was simply for readers looking for books about love, not romance, just LOVE!

Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog, Sweet Romance Blog

UNICEF Ukraine Donation: July 4th

Buy or read books by Strife and help out UNICEF in Ukraine.

As we enjoy our day of independence in the USA, I think it’s only right to remember that others still fight for theirs.

All royalties accrued on July 4th will be donated to UNICEF-Ukraine. I will estimate pages read, so those with Kindle Unlimited subscriptions who read my titles will be included in the donation as well.

Children all too often suffer the consequences of the adult world. They shouldn’t have to. Many are displaced from their homes and struggling to cope mentally, emotionally, and physically.

My husband and I had looked into adopting a child at the start of the war, but adoptions were quickly shut down. I still want to help.

Join me in donating simply by purchasing a title on July 4th or reading one you already own but haven’t started. Enjoy your 4th of July and know you’re donating to a good cause.

1656918060

  days

  hours  minutes  seconds

until

July 4th Donation Day

E L Strife Sci-Fi on Amazon

Elysia Strife Sweet Romance on Amazon


Want to make a donation directly instead?

https://www.unicefusa.org/mission/emergencies/child-refugees-and-migrants/war-ukraine


Author Interviews, Blog, Sweet Romance Blog

Author Interview: Susan Berry, Romance

“Susan Berry spent her free time with her beloved grandmother, reading the latest novels they’d retrieved from a used book store, or the local second hand shop. That reading eventually turned into the writing of her own romance novels. Novels filled with characters who have not yet found love, but eventually find a way to overcome romantic troubles with humor, wit, and the consumption of lots and lots of chocolate.”

View her book tour page here.

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:   My first book, Dance of the Heart, took me two years to write. I’m a single mother of two, and I wrote mostly while my children were asleep at night. And I probably could have finished it sooner, but I was having too much fun getting to know my heroine, Maggie. She is so funny, accident prone just like me, and someone I’d love to be friends with. She’s faced a heartbreaking tragedy in her life, but found a way to overcome every obstacle that stood in her way and eventually found true love.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:   To me, success as an author isn’t so much about monetary gains as it is about enjoyment. The enjoyment of putting on paper the characters that live in my mind, and having someone leave positive reviews, or reach out to me because they felt a connection with that character. Being an author really is so much more than writing books. It’s a shared experience between the writer and reader, that leaves each bonded to the other, and something I thoroughly enjoy.

After a distasteful first meeting, and a rocky start to their romance, Maggie Kinsley has been happily married to Desmond for the last eleven months. And although she was often alone when he traveled for business, she rather enjoyed how he passionately greeted her when returning home.

So when he received a letter naming him as executor of a property that belonged to a deceased family friend and had to leave for a few weeks, Maggie should have been content as she kissed him goodbye. But there was something about the whole thing that made her uneasy. Why was Desmond so evasive with her when she asked him about the previous owner.

Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?

Author:   Yes, I have always read in the genre I write in. Harlequin romances are some of my favorites. The first one I ever read was given to me by my grandmother when I was ten-years-old. Since I enjoyed it so much, she would take me every weekend to cruise the second hand shops or discount book stores in our town to search for more. My Grandmother  passed away before I wrote my first novel. But I believe she would have enjoyed reading my stories, and I think of her every time one is published. Love you, Gram!

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:   One of the hardest things to overcome on my journey to authorship was self-doubt. Like most women, I’ve faced hardships in my life, which included an accident that left me a paraplegic. But nothing compared to the insecurity I felt when my first book was published. I held my breath as I freed my character from the confines of my computer. And I can still remember the first time a reader said how much they enjoyed my book, and couldn’t wait to read the next one. My smile could have lit up the room. And I still feel that way each and every time a reader reaches out to me. I’m so very thankful, and humbled, by their support and encouragement.

How do you combat writer’s block?

AuthorWriter’s block is something that every author faces and not easily combated. For me, I usually start by taking a break and eating a few pieces of chocolate. Ok…a lot of chocolate.  And truth be told, I’m a firm believer that chocolate could solve any problem and may even be the answer to world peace! After the chocolate is depleted, and I still can’t focus my imagination, I’ll open a new word doc and write anything my mind conjures up—clean out the clutter so I can get back to my characters. That usually does the trick. And what do I do to mark my success at defeating writer’s block? You guessed it…more chocolate, of course.

Do you have any tips or recommendations for those who want to go the final step and become authors?

Author:   My tip for those who want to take the final steps and become an author is…go for it! You are unique and so will be the stories you’ll write. Write every chance you get about anything that inspires you. And don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not good enough. Reach out to other authors for advice and ask lots of questions. Join author groups on social media platforms like Facebook. Eventually your confidence will catch up with your talent and your first book will be published.

 What do you listen to while you write?

AuthorI love to write in the spring and summer time with my window open and listen to the sound of the wind blowing through the trees, or the rain falling on my walkway. In the fall and winter, when my window is closed, I enjoy the colorful leaves or the snow fall. For me, having music playing is too much of a distraction as I find my self signing more than writing!

Susan’s latest book is the clean romance suspense, Promise of the Heart.

You can visit her website at https://www.SusanBerryauthor.com   or connect with her on TwitterFacebook and Goodreads.

Blog, Sweet Romance Blog

First Audiobook Now Available

I’m super stoked to announce: I finally have an audiobook!

Sugar Pine Holiday is my first title to be published in listen-only mode with Google Play. I’ve used Google’s auto-narration by Madison, a medium tone, gentle voice I think reflects a better version of my book than me reading it myself on Anchor. (I’ve since pulled back from that and am reworking my audiobook game.)

My hope is to get a few more books set to wide in Sweet Romance and Sci-Fi.

The content turned out well with Sugar Pine Holiday, in my opinion. I had to correct a few things and work on pacing of the AI narrator a bit. But overall, I think the hours I put into it, and the quality is worth the small price of $4.99 as compared to other audio books.

Photo by Ju00c9SHOOTS on Pexels.com

I finally found a way to try out audiobook creation within my financial boundaries, which makes me very happy. I’ve had readers request audiobooks in the past, and suggested I do them myself. I would, but I live in an RV with thin walls right next to the highway. There isn’t a quiet place to record here. And Madison doesn’t make mistakes and have to reread chapters 3 or 5 times to get them right on Anchor! haha.

If you’re a writer interested in inexpensive audiobook creation, try out Google Play. Your book has to be in ebook form first before it can be auto-narrated. But so far, the process has been stellar. I totally recommend this!

Sugar Pine Holiday is the first sweet romance series I’m trying out as “widely” published on multiple platforms. It’s not on Amazon in ebook or audiobook, only paperback. It’s part of a new collection I’m calling Fireside Holidays, the second book of which, Wish Mountain Holiday, I’m working on right now.

I’m hoping to turn this into a nicely sized collection of 5 or more books. The second book stars a character from the first book, Lex. Each one will feature Search & Rescue studs.

Ready for a listen?

Check out Sugar Pine Holiday on Google Play

Buy eBook: Sugar Pine Holiday $0.99

Sign up for Sugar & Spice Newsletter to get it for free.

More about Sugar Pine Holiday:

A rushed work trip to a mountain resort sends Ava into the humble, strong arms of a search and rescue stud. Can he save her heart? And can she rescue him before her time is up?

Ava Williams doesn’t want anything to do with winter or the snowy mountains of Colorado after her sister’s death. When a resort coordinator calls the week before Christmas, requesting her dance classes as part of a holiday retreat for couples, Ava can’t turn down the opportunity. It could change the future of her studio’s business. 

But Ava plans to hide out in her room between classes, not ready to confront the memories of family vacations that used to bring her joy. She doesn’t expect to meet the handsome and extremely fit Cade, a member of the local search and rescue team. All he wants is one date. But Ava knows if she gives in, it could dismantle everything she’s worked so hard to create.

Cade Callahan is more than meets the eye, and Ava finds herself falling for him. Literally. He likes to play fair, and he’s desperate in a way only Ava can satisfy.

She has to keep her distance. How hard can it be for just one week?

A sweet holiday romance with a bit of suspense and mild language but no intimacy. 

Audio content information:

Author-adjusted auto-narration.

Voice: Madison

Speed: Relaxed

Author Interviews, Blog, Sweet Romance Blog

Author Interview: Roger Stark, Historical Romance/ Biography/ Creative Non-fiction

Roger Stark

Historical Romance, WW2, Biography, Creative Non-fiction, 

Author of: They Called Him Marvin  

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:  Several years ago while working as an Addiction Counselor I wrote two how-to books on recovery. I ended up self publishing them and have had a modest amount of success with the first, “The Waterfall Concept”  has some success. That process gave me a functioning knowledge of the process but I really had no plans or desires to write another book, on any subject.

And then I became friends with Marv Sherman.

Marv and Judy (Marv’s wife) had invited my wife, Sue and I to dinner, it was a sort of thank you dinner for some assistance I gave them when they went on a temporary work assignment (Marv is a veterinarian) to Alaska. Marv and I engaged in a rather emotional conversation about his father that he had never met. His father, Dean, was a B29 Airplane Commander during WW2, shot down over Nagoya Japan, captured and ……..(you will have to read the story to learn the rest.)

Marv’s knowledge of his father was staggeringly incomplete and he openly wept as he told me the story. He had avoided learning about what had happened to his father to avoid the pain the knowledge would bring to him. I felt a compassion for my friend overcame me and I committed to helping him learn of his Dad. That turned into a request to write the story and It was on.  

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:  It took 8 years to write and publish TCHM. Much of that time was divided between research and re-writes. I knew little of the war and was shocked to learn the fates of B29 airman shot down over Japan, to say nothing of my shock at learning how the B29 were used against the Japanese people. During the Viet Nam War I was aware of vigorous condemnations of the use of napalm against the Viet Namese people. Turns out there was a good reason, they newly experience the horrors of fire bombing. Especially the fire bombing of urban areas without military targets. 

Marv had his parent’s letters from the war. Connie had kept everyone of Dean’s letters she received. The only letters from Connie he had were returned to her as undeliverable after he went MIA. Marv could not bring himself to even read the letters, he had attempted to transcribe them but that proved to be an emotional quagmire for him and he did not finish.  

What is your publishing process?

Author:  My process was certainly non-traditional. When I wrote “The Waterfall Concept” about 15 years ago I was a complete publishing novice. After finishing my manuscript I sent it to a few publishers for consideration, waiting for six months to hear back from them, I always got a similar reply, “Great manuscript, unfortunately, we are not interested.”

In my frustration, started to consider how to self publish. That is when I stumbled across Gorham Printing located just a few miles from me in Centraila, Wa. They specialize in helping self publishers, usually printing in small lots. I had to find my own editor and obtain an ISBN number, but they managed the formatting and printing process for me. I really cannot say enough good things about these people. They are incredible!

With several hundred copies of my book, I literally took off in the family car in search of a distributor. That trip did not go well. After lots of miles and lots of “No’s” I gave up and started for home. There was one more potential stop that I had written off because of all the other responses I had received. But a few miles north of Salt Lake City, I engaged in a rather lengthy sales conversation with the owner of Brigham Distributing. I could tell as the conversation wore on that the owner was weighing this opportunity in his mind, with it’s very low chance of much profitability. He startled me when he jumped up and said, “Sure we will distribute your book, do you have any copies with you?”

I could not unload the car fast enough, afraid he might change his mind. Brigham took care of creating the ebook, getting the Amazon listing, and getting bookstores know the book was available.

With all that in mind when I was finishing the “They Called Him Marvin” manuscript, I never considered anything but self publishing. I knew what hoops I had to jump through and it all seemed easier the third time through. 

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author:     The secret sauce for me were the writing groups at the Writer’s Attic in Portland Or. Great comrades as we each worked on our individual projects, reading and critiquing each other’s work, we all grew as writers. Many of the key elements of TCHM were developed in the those groups sitting around the tables giving feedback to each other

Normally I don’t respond well to criticisms of my writing (a serious pride issue on my part) but somehow in those groups, my defenses dropped and I could hear what others were saying. Perhaps that speaks to the trust we developed in each other, it was a rather remarkable experience, making these new friends and growing to love them. We could, after all, see right into their hearts by reading their writings.

Marketing

How do you get reviews for your books?

Author:   Reviews. They are quite the writers’s challenge when launching a work.  I thought I was being very aggressive about getting pre publication reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Being not very well connected in the writing world, I did not have a bevy of fellow writers to trade reviews with. I bought a few initially, used Netgalley, and some other like sources, gaining a few reviews but not in the quantity that I had hoped for. I turned to family (who cares that their last name is the same as mine) then friends, then in a desperation move, acquaintances, using a very loose definition of the word. A few friends talked their friends into helping out and by the publication date we had enough to launch.  

How do you promote your content?

Author: If you have any suggestions, I am all ears. This is where I made my biggest mistake in judgment.  I felt pretty good about marketing and promoting of my Addiction Recovery books . Well, what I learned back then, really didn’t apply to a book about a WW2 love story with a tragic ending. Suffice it to say I am still working on this part of my project. 

I did make a rather expensive mistake on Amazon advertising. In my inexperience I made a several thousand dollar blunder that netted me nothing, I still swear a little bit when I think about it.

I do like Book Tours obviously and feel they are well worth the money. Reduced price promotions of the ebook have raised awareness also. We have a constant Facebook presence and ad campaigns, Amazon ads are on the back burner for now. They have a place in my marketing plan, I am just not sure I know where that is yet. 

About Your Work

What do you want your readers to get out of your works? 

Author:      To remember and honor those that have given so much in our behalf. In TCHM Dean gave his all in service to his country, but it didn’t stop there, his wife and son went on giving the rest of their lives, deprived of a relationship with him. 

Marvin was a half orphan and struggled to figure out life. Some of his teenage exploits are both humorous and terrifying at the same time. He quit high school and in a moment of clarity realized that he needed some discipline that a place, like say the Army, might bring into his life. He was absolutely right about the Army and after his service he went onto college to become a licensed veterinarian. 

Do you recommend any programs, courses, or websites?

Author:   My experience is that there are local writer’s groups all over this country and if there isn’t one in your area the internet can bring one to you. For me writing was the main thing that helped me improve my skills. I wrote for a recovery magazine for several years, my editor towards the end of that work made the comment, “Your writing skills have really improved.” That was news to me! I thought I was just writing like I always did, my own eyes could not see the improvements. That shows the importance of another pair of eyes looking at your work. You don’t need to believe everything you hear, as we say in recovery, “just take what you like and leave the rest.”

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:    I am a rewriter! I long ago lost count of the chapter ones for TCHM. My brain can just see a better way to phrase a passage when I look at a written presentation of it. Ann Lamott in an article on writing gave us all permission to write a shitty first draft. (Her word not mine) That advice has served me very well, when I stopped trying to write the perfect sentence the first time through, the quality and quantity of my writing increased dramatically.

After I was about one half way through my manuscript, Marv came to me with a family history Connie had penned that had been lost to the family. The facts she revealed did not agree with the creative non fiction account I had conjured up. Which meant I wasn’t half way through my manuscript at all.

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:  SELF DOUBT. I will say no more on the subject.  

Fun Stuff 

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:   There were three things I  listened to as I wrote. (I am listening to one of them now as I write this.) Disturbed’s version of “Sounds of Silence,” The theme to “The Last of the Mohicans” and Boston’s “Third Stage” album. All were on continuous tape and played at a very high volume.    

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:    I am not sure of the food or snack but I know such breaks involved Dr Pepper!  

Blog, Sweet Romance Blog

New Sweet Romance Series: Farmers’ Market Sisters

This is a new series for 2022 featuring seven sisters of Sweet Springs Family Farm set in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. These sweet and clean romance books progress through a year of holidays from Valentine’s Day to New Year’s Eve. At long novella lengths, they’re quick weekend reads you can easily set aside and return to. They don’t have to be read in order, but are best served if they are.

Each sister has her own responsibility on the farm and their own stand at the local farmers’ market. They loves they find are perfectly matched, they just don’t know it yet. With every book ending with a happily ever after, you know this series is sure to delight and leave you with a smile.

Love in Bloom
Amber & Fynn

Amber doesn’t normally expect such a large bouquet request unless someone has been very bad.
Fynn isn’t her typical customer. When he returns to her farmers’ market stand, it isn’t for more flowers; it’s for a date with her.

Kiss Me for Luck
Rosemary & Kieran

Rosemary has always been the responsible older sister, looking after others and their family farm. Rosemary knows the chances she will meet another man are slim. Then one cold winter night, her family carried in a handsome, soaked stranger.

Sweet as Honey
Willow & Luca

Willow never expected to find love on the side of the road. But there was Luca Jacoby, hood up, steam billowing out of his truck. It was quite the Saint Patrick’s Day luck. A journalist for an agricultural magazine, Luca is visiting her family’s farm to write an article on sustainable farming. His surprise appearance has Willow clinging to his stories of other farms and the beautiful countryside across the states. She’s always wanted to travel. 

Cherries & Sparks
Sky & Camden

Sky has been waiting for Cam to come home from war. When he arrives but doesn’t call, she wants to know why.
Sky has always been faithful to her high school sweetheart. They’ve been together for years, since long before Cam decided to join the military. 

Be My Pumpkin
Sienna & Joel

Sienna has always been the farm’s marketing specialist. But when the pumpkin patch opens for the season, attendance is unexpectedly low. Joel Kirsch is only supposed to be there installing a security system, but he wants to help. Together, they plan a last-minute fall festival to bring in extra customers.

Decked with Love
Melody & Tucker

Every year, Melody donates Christmas trees from her farm to local families in need. Someone calls in a special, anonymous request, sending Melody on a new charity mission.

Tucker, the new school teacher in town, has discovered a family in need of a lot more than a tree.

Midnight Snow Ball
Azalea & Elias

Azalea’s baked goods have earned her a reputation among the locals, but so has her rough and wild attitude. A new Farrier arrives at the farm to care for the horses. He’s a hard, lonely man in need of some quality cooking. Azalea needs a date for the New Year’s party.

To keep up to date on the books and get FREE early copies before they’re available to the public, subscribe to Sugar & Spice Club and get a free book here.

Author Interviews, Blog, Sweet Romance Blog

Author Interview: Angela D Shelton, Christian/Young Adult

I’m currently writing under my true name, Angela D. Shelton in the Christian Fiction, Young Adult genres. In March, I published Collapse: The Death of Friendship with Two Oaks Publishing, LLC. The second book in the series, Collapse: The Death of Honor should be out by June.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      My grandmother was a writer who used her craft to help pay my aunt’s way through college. Though she died before I was able to have conversations with her about her writing, I’ve always wanted to follow in her footsteps. In my freshman year of college, I took a creative writing class as an elective and the professor tried to convince me to change my major to writing. At that time, I figured there was no money in writing for most people, so stayed on my track to becoming an accountant. Two years ago I decided it was time to try my hand at creating stories for the page, and I’ve found that I absolutely love it.

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:      My first book took about six months to write. Unfortunately, it was a learning experience. The result was so awful that my own sister didn’t even finish reading it. Fortunately, I found the American Christian Writers Association and Word Weavers who provided mentoring opportunities through critique groups. There are some amazing writers out there and those I’ve worked the closest with have indicated my work is pretty good now, so I’m excited to share my work with others. Even my sister read my first published book and loved it. She’s waiting impatiently for the second book to be published. Even my sisters don’t get to see it until then.

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:      I am an independently published author. As an accountant, I understand the financial side of the business and could see very little benefit to traditional publishing other than the vanity aspects of it. I see that it will take a bit more time for my work to be recognized as an indie, but I’m patient.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:      My critique group pointed me in the right direction. Because my protagonist is a young adult, it makes sense for me to sell to that audience; however, a number of my critique partners have indicated that adults would enjoy my book just as much as the younger set.

How do you define success as an author?

Author:      Since I’m just starting out, I see success in every positive review that I obtain. Unfortunately, many more people tell me how much they enjoyed my book than those who take the time to write a review for me. I do encourage them to write, but folks are busy.

About Your Work

What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?

Author:      As a Christian, my goal is to share the joy I experience on a daily basis. So many people struggle in their lives, it’s hard to watch sometimes. If I can bring a positive message that helps even one person, it’s worth it. I don’t like heavy-handed preaching though. For the most part, Americans are aware of Christianity, and many have walked away from it for various reasons. Rarely do they walk away from it because of God. Usually, it’s over other Christians and how they’ve been treated. I get that. I’ve been there and “bought the t-shirt” as they say. But we were put on this earth to encourage each other and that’s my goal.

What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?

Author:      I’m a combination of pantsing and plotting. Using the Save the Cat method, I put together my basic outline of the story. But once I’m writing, I often find myself writing my way out of my outline and have to go back and re-outline because I prefer the direction the new story is going.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      Nothing. Seriously, it drives me nuts when someone is talking when I’m writing. I live out on a farm, which is where I draw a lot of my inspiration from. So my favorite sounds are birds, chickens, cows, and sometimes my dogs who love to complain. Two huskies, Ricky and Lucy, usually sit nearby when I’m writing, and if I take too long without paying attention to them, they “talk” to me about it. If dogs could cuss, I’d swear they were at me some days.

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:      It all depends on the day and time. I like to sit at the kitchen island, in the early mornings at my desk, or if I’m on vacation, in the hotel room at the desk with the window open to the beach. Nature inspires me, so my favorite spots include the sounds of animals or the ocean. It’s almost always enhanced with a hot cup of chai latte though. That’s the one constant.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      I can’t share the title yet, because I’m reading for a fellow author who hasn’t yet published it. It’s a really good read though, so watch my website for my review that will be out soon.