Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Good-book alert! Meek and Mild by Olivia Newport

My guest today is Olivia Newport, another Colorado author. She's here to discuss her newest release, Meek and Mild, and give us a peek into her writing world.

Meek and Mild by Olivia Newport
The leadership in an Old Order Amish community requires shunning friends and family whose only offense is to embrace the new Protestant practice of Sunday school among the Mennonites, but teaching Bible stories to children is one of Clara Kuhns’s great joys. Clara's on the verge of saying yes to Andrew Raber’s marriage proposal, but now he flagrantly refuses to submit to the bishop's authority by owning a car. When the lot falls to Moses Beachy to become the new bishop, the community waits for him to take bold steps toward change. Clara and Andrew step together into a more progressive Amish faith as the Beachy Amish take form.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I always loved telling stories. I can remember being four years old and using flannelgraph pieces in the preschool Sunday school room to tell a story about a little girl looking for Jesus. In fifth grade, a weekly assignment was to write a story using all the spelling words. I did really well at it. I’m thankful that my teacher told me so. But growing into that identity can take decades. Though I had several jobs where organizational-based writing was a big chunk of the position, I was 35 before I transitioned from “I like to write” to “I am a writer.”

What other books have you written?
Thanks for asking! The Avenue of Dreams series, set in 1890s Chicago, includes The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow, and The Invention of Sarah Cummings. The Valley of Choice series, set in contemporary Colorado, includes Accidentally Amish, In Plain View, and Taken for English. Hidden Falls is a 13-episode digital-only contemporary small-town series available in e-book and audible formats. Wonderful Lonesome, which came out last year, is the first in the Amish Turns of Time set of historical Amish novels. Meek and Mild, the new book, is the second in that set.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I often think I am not doing a very good job of that! I am a creature of habit, and that helps. I don’t resist doing what I need to do when I need to do it, and never have. But in recent years I have become more attuned to listening to both body and spirit. I try to pay attention both to what is abundant and what is needful. I believe a healthy life doesn’t come down to just what I eat or what health condition I might or might not have. It comes down to a balance of the major dimensions of my life. When I feel them swinging out of balance, I know it’s time to make some adjustments.

What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
The task I took on with the Amish Turns of Time stories is exploring some true historical episodes in Amish history and looking at how Amish history took a turn because of what happened. In Meek and Mild, I look at the circumstances that led to break-off of the Beachy Amish, who eventually became more progressive than the Old Order. Because the district that experienced this break spanned the Pennsylvania-Maryland border, family members on both sides were caught up in divisive opinions and consequences. My characters are fictional, but they face the struggles we know real people faced in the historical circumstances.

How can readers find your book on the Internet?
Meek and Mild is available at all the major Internet retailers, in print, audio, and e-book formats. Here are some quick links.
You can find Olivia at www.olivianewport.com, @OliviaNewport and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/OliviaNewport?ref=hl

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The world's harsh, be kind!

We never know what others are dealing with. On the outside, we all look pulled together and ready to take on the world. But a broken person hides their wounds, carrying them deep inside. You can't look at someone and judge their behavior off the cuff. Often deep, personal issues guide a harsh action or cutting words.

We never know what hurts have motivated them. You can't imagine some of the awful things that have formed a personality. I prefer to think all my friends and all the people I come into contact with were raised in a safe, happy home and are in a loving marriage where they're cherished and respected. But that's not always true. You don't know, you simply don't know. 

A smile or a small kindness can make a huge difference in someone's day. I saw a story about a man who smiled and waved at strangers as he drove down the street. He'd heard that a kind gesture can save someone considering suicide. Isn't that amazing? On a smaller scale, just giving a kind word can brighten an otherwise ordinary day and provide someone a needed lift.  

Give others the benefit of the doubt. Go out of your way to help someone. Sure, you might not be appreciated, but that's not the point. Being kind is the point. Sometimes it might seem you're unappreciated, but perhaps the person doesn't know how to react in an appropriate manner. Do the right thing anyway.

Overlook a slight. Forgive a gaffe. Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek (Luke 6:29). That's about one of the most difficult things to do. You want to defend yourself, you want to repair the damage to your reputation, but there are circumstances where that's not possible. If you hold on to the anger and resentment, you're the one who pays the price. Truly. When we forgive it doesn't mean the pain never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our lives.

The world's harsh, be kind! After all, nobody's perfect!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Good-book alert! Chapel Springs Revival by Ane Mulligan

Chapel Springs Revival

With a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel.

Everybody in the small town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, knows best friends Claire and Patsy. It's impossible not to, what with Claire's zany antics and Patsy's self-appointed mission to keep her friend out of trouble. And trouble abounds. Chapel Springs has grown dilapidated and the tourist trade has slackened. With their livelihoods threatened, they join forces to revitalize the town. No one could have guessed the real issue needing restoration is their marriages.

 With their personal lives in as much disarray as the town, Claire and Patsy embark on a mission of mishaps and miscommunication, determined to restore warmth to Chapel Springs —and their lives. That is if they can convince their husbands and the town council, led by two curmudgeons who would prefer to see Chapel Springs left in the fifties and closed to traffic.
I met Ane several years ago when I first started attending ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conferences. She was the friendly lady with the ready smile. If you've ever traveled across the country to attend a BIG conference, without knowing a lot of people, you really appreciate someone like that. Since then, our friendship has grown. Ane cheered me on when I got my first publishing contract, and now I'm thrilled to see her dream come true. 

Let's get to know her a bit.

Megan: When did you first discover that you were a writer?

Ane: I loved to write when I was a kid, but I was too ADHD to sit still long enough, so I told stories. That got me into trouble when I was in elementary school. It was show and tell day and I told. My teacher called it lying and sent me to the principal's office. He and I became good friends after he suggested I play out the stories with my dolls. I did and some went on for days as the heroine got in and out of pickles.

Megan: How do you choose your characters’ names?

Ane: I have several sources:
I also like the Social Security site for the most popular baby names by year. You can put in the year your character was born and choose.
Then I use the BabyName Survey Book. It tells you what people think of or the image they get with names.

After I've done my character interview, I begin to write. However, I've often had characters that refused to go by the name I've given them. As soon as I changed the name, they story wrote itself.

Megan: What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

Ane: That would be the character's motivation. I could get the goals and create the conflict, but motivation eluded me for a long time. Then I took a course on PlottingVia Motivation. I took the course, and that really changed things for me. I learned how the character's motivation drives their decisions and thus the plot.

Soon after that, I learned about the Lie people believe about themselves. This translates to fictional characters beautifully. I studied these 8 basic Lies and discovered how motivation rises out of the Lie.

Now, I spend a good two weeks to a month learning about my characters before I move beyond that first what if.

Megan: What advice would you give to an author just starting out?

Ane: Enjoy the journey. Don't be in such a hurry to publish that you miss the networking and friendships within the business. Nobody understands a writer like another writer.

Megan: What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

Ane: I loved writing this book. It grew out of an actual event in our older son's life. An event he didn't tell us about until it was a done deed. Now, in his case, it turned out to be wonderful. But because he didn't tell us until afterwards, I said it would go in a book. And it did. And no, I won't tell you what he did. You'll have to buy the book to find out.

Megan: How can readers find your book on the Internet?

And I understand my publisher is putting it on sale for Valentine's Day. I believe that will be on Amazon and the LCP store.

About Ane:
While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, bestselling novelist Ane Mulligan has worn many: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that's a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama director, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. Her lifetime experience provides a plethora of fodder for her Southern-fried fiction. She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. President of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket, Ane resides in Suwanee, GA, with her artist husband, her chef son, and two dogs of Biblical proportion. You can find Ane on her Southern-fried Fictionwebsite, Google+, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

How an Author Handles Doubts

Some days it’s difficult to feel confident about your writing. Fears pop up like dandelions after the first spring rain. 

Those worries and questions play on a loop in your brain:
  • Is this good enough to be published? 
  • Does it make sense? 
  • Will anyone want to read it? 
  • Do I sound ridiculous? 
  • Am I wasting my time? 
  • Will I ever be pleased with this project? 
And on and on and on . . .

I'm not the first writer to have these doubts. And I won't be the last.

Want to know how writers handle these doubts? 

They keep writing!

They remember what got them started in the first place. Look inside yourself. Recall the dream that pushed tender sprouts out of the soil of your heart. Recall the delight you experienced in claiming that big dream. Dig Deep to reclaim your passion again. 

Believe again!

It's not over until God says it's over. Start dreaming again. Start pursuing what God put in your heart. 

Listen, no one knows better than I how discouragement can creep up on you and squeeze the life out of your dreams. But if the Author of dreams has planted one in your heart, then don't give up!

As for me, I shall remain~
A Prisoner of Hope!

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Publishing Industry News

Time to check out the February edition of Novel Rocket's industry news. There's some interesting news and some fun tidbits for book lovers:

  • Chipotle (one of my favs!) has a fun new literary flavor in their packaging.
  • Several fun lists: best websites and publishing predictions.
  • Literary prizes.
  • Changes in the industry.

There's a lot going on. Find it here!