Friday, May 31, 2013

Author Interview - Karen Lange

I'm pleased to welcome  Karen Lange, my friend, blogging buddy, and fellow author, to Christian Writer/Reader Connection!

Please share some highlights of your writing journey.

Thank you, Susan, for having me over!

The writing journey is an adventure! One ongoing highlight is meeting so many wonderful writers.  It was also great to see my first byline in a magazine article years ago. It might seem silly, but I still enjoy seeing my name in print. :)

The biggest highlight to date would be signing a contract with Helping Hands Press. It still seems a bit surreal!

I was so excited to hear you signed with Helping Hands Press. What was it like when you received the contract offer? Did you scream, do the Snoopy Dance, or celebrate in some other way?

No, there wasn’t any screaming, lol. It was early morning when I got the email with the contract. After I read it, I sat back, a bit stunned. A wave of excitement and nerves hit me simultaneously. So I decided to text my kids – I knew they’d see it when they got up. And of course, I told my husband as soon as he woke up.  I think I sputtered out something like, “Umm, guess who was just offered a publishing contract?”

The whole process took less than a week and I was surprised how quickly things went. I still smile when I think about it. I’m both nervous and excited.

What project will be the first on the publishing list? Do you have specific goals/ideas for future releases?

The plan now is to revise and expand a short book I self published in 2007 on homeschool learning co-ops. I’d like to compile and publish my teen writing lessons (that I use with my online classes). And of course, I’d like to see our collaborative project, the historical novel, published.

What is your favorite aspect of writing?

Although I enjoy the entire process, I love seeing a project to completion. It’s satisfying seeing everything come together.

Writers draw inspiration from a variety of sources. What gets your creativity into high gear?

Ideas are everywhere, and I am often inspired. I’m amazed at how God created our minds and imaginations to work. Sometimes it’s hard to rein in the ideas that clamor for attention. Staying with the task at hand and deadlines help me focus.

Often a small thing sparks my creativity. Take for instance a scene in our book that deals with a main character’s young daughter. My 6-year-old nephew said something one day that generated a scene and dialogue between the daughter and another key character.  So you just never know, do you?

Thanks again for inviting me to stop by, Susan! I appreciate your support. It’s always fun to come and see you and your friends.  :)

To connect with Karen online, you can find her at:

Karen Lange
Writer, Blogger
Instructor, Coffeehouse for Writers

Thank you, Karen! I know there are good things ahead for you. 

Writers and Readers: Do you have any questions for Karen? Feel free to jump in and ask!

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Genre Dilemma

Imagine going into a bookstore or library with no clearly-defined sections. The task of locating a book you like would take on nightmarish proportions. Books, music, and many other art forms are broken down into genres, so we can locate the type of reading material we love.

When I began writing The Moses Conspiracy, genre didn't enter my mind. All I knew was I had a novel to write. After a few years of dealing with craft issues, I started hearing things like, "What genre is this?"

Editors and agents all had an opinion. To my horror, one person labeled it, "Sci-Fi." This genre evoked scenes with aliens and spaceships, which definitely did not fit my book.

Others labeled it, "political, futuristic, or fantasy." I decided if anyone was going to categorize this book it was going to be me. So, I began presenting it as Christian Speculative Fiction because it takes place in 2025 and presented a what-if scenario.

The problem with this designation was the staggering number of sub-genres under it. My publisher decided to label it futuristic/fantasy for the various outlets.

In fact, The Moses Conspiracy is a cross-genre work. It's futuristic, but also suspenseful. It's a mystery and has some Amish characters. In my opinion, a lot of people could relate to this book and enjoy the various elements.

Let's face it, our lives are not segmented into genres. People interact with various ethnic groups and face challenging life situations. It's one reason I read many genres. Think about all those new synapses growing in my brain when I open to different reading material.

I'm curious. What are your thoughts about reading/writing different genres or cross-genre works?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Winner of Carrie Fancett Pagels' Notecards

The winner of Carrie Fancett Pagels' notecard giveaway is:

                                                   KAREN  K.!

Congratulations, Karen! I will forward your email address to Carrie.

Thanks to all those, who commented and participated in the giveaway. Have a blessed weekend.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday Round-Up - #234

Photo Credit: vikush

Beth K. Vogts helps writers understand the art of backstory.

Writers:  How do you handle backstory in your writing? Do you use character charts or write down their past experiences to get to know them/guide you in their reactions to situations?

Readers: How much character history do you like in the books you read?

Have a blessed weekend!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Stuck in a Rut?

I've gone through phases as a reader. For a long time, I read only mysteries. Agatha Christie books and Nero Wolfe stories occupied my time and bookshelves. Then, I read lots of romance. Peretti grabbed me with his supernatural fiction. After a time, I discovered a couple of things:

1) I selected books without any thought.
2) I was bored.

At that point, I decided to mix it up. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life. It kept my reading fresh and fun.

I keep a list of the books I've read during the year. Due to my own publishing journey, the list is shorter than usual for 2013. Last year, I read over 50 books. Here's what I've read so far in 2013:

Echoes by Kristen Heitzmann  (Suspense with an element of romance)
Heart Out of Hiding by Jan Cline (Non-fiction)
From A Distance by Tamera Alexander (Historical romance)
Sacred Sabbath by Marja Meijers (Non-fiction)
Providence: Once Upon a Second Chance by Chris Coppernoll (Fiction - not sure of the genre)
Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund (Historical romance)
Arms of Love by Kelly Long (Amish historical)

There are many more books on my TBR pile and on my Wish List. Non-fiction, contemporary, sci-fi, futuristic, historical romance, and mystery are all represented.I also want to read books written by fellow authors at Helping Hands Press. My list keeps growing.

Writers & Readers: What are you reading now? What books are on your TBR pile?

Photo Credit: kovik

Friday, May 17, 2013

Author Interview and Book Spotlight - Carrie Fancett Pagels

I'm happy to welcome fellow Helping Hands Press author, Carrie Fancett Pagels to Christian Writer/Reader Connection!

1)  Please tell us a little about your journey to publication? I was a psychologist for 25 years. I wrote as a child and in high school I was on the yearbook and the newspaper staff.  In college I was the "key liner" for the college magazine.  I dropped out of grad school to write a secular novel in the 1970's.  Went back and got my doctorate.  Kept writing stories.  Was published in nonfiction.  

This publication was a "God thing" and I shared about this on MaryLu Tyndall's blog. Here's the link:  My story is about radical obedience and my efforts to follow God's will for my writing also resulted in this story being released and receiving favor.  I am very grateful for all the assistance God sent my way!  From having Murray Pura contact me, to having a blurb available from a pulled proposal, to getting to spend several hours with Julian Charity of Shirley Plantation, being allowed to use a picture taken by their staff photographer, having awesome Civil War writer Kathleen Maher as my critique partner, to having amazing bloggers on my group blog who supported me, to the readers God sent my way--it really was like a whirlwind of awesome blessings!!!  To be part of this big anthology with all these great authors is pretty humbling.

2)  How did you discover Shirley Plantation?  My inlaws were visiting from Chicago and we wanted to go to some of the plantations along the James River.  I thought my MIL would enjoy this.  Mind you, this is many years ago when I was still working as a psychologist. The first time we went, Shirley was closed and we were very disappointed.  So on one of their subsequent trips we went to Shirley.  The plantation buildings flabbergasted me because there were so many colonial era buildings, intact, in one place.  I suspected that there might be nothing like it out there anywhere--and I have discovered that is correct!  An amazing place and the staff are some of the most wonderful people I have met on my writing journey!  So unbelievably helpful!

3Time management is an issue for all authors. How do you balance writing with life in general?  I really try to keep God first, then my family and then the writing.  One thing I have found is to have accountability partners and I am blessed to have several who really help me.  Also, I try to schedule my writing in segments so that I don't overtax myself.  I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and I have to manage my health, too, so I can write effectively. 

4What other projects do you have in the pipeline?  I have a three book proposal that I am working on that is also set along the James River.  On one of the manuscripts I already have four authors who have read and endorsed the book and it is not yet contracted.  Praying this series will be, soon, though.  I am writing a story that is the first one and I have enjoyed going back to colonial times for this one!

Bio - Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.d.

Carrie Fancett Pagels writes "romantic" historical fiction. Her debut release Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance, a Kindle Civil War best seller, is part of a multi-author anthology headed up by Murray Pura. 

Carrie is represented by Joyce Hart, of Hartline Literary Agency and is owner/administrator of two group blogs: "Colonial Quills" and Overcoming With God." Carrie was a psychologist for 25 years. She lives in Virginia with her family.

Facebook Author Page:
Facebook Personal Page:
Linked In: pro

GIVEAWAY! Carrie has generously offered to giveaway a set of notecards. This is open to U.S. residents only. Please leave a comment and an email address, so we can contact you if you win. I'll announce the winner on Friday, 5/24/13. Carrie will send the notecards to the winner.

Thanks for visiting with us today, Carrie!


Monday, May 13, 2013

Formula or Heart?

Formulas have their place. They're valuable in mathematics. Recipes are formulas of another kind. If you want people to eat your cakes, pies, and cookies, following a recipe is a good idea.

What about writing books? Is there a formula for producing something publishable? People can learn how to write. Get the grammar, punctuation, and spelling down. Practice various techniques to achieve a desired effect. Yet this isn't the be all, end all of authorship.

I've read some novels over the years that are technically almost perfect but left me empty. Where's the heart, the author's passion for their story?

While I have many thoughts on this subject, I don't pretend to have all the answers. I depend on the Ultimate Writer (God) to inspire and give me the ability to share via the written word. I'm not saying that He dictates and I write. No, I'm very involved in the process. Yet without this vital step, my words lack the life-changing heart I seek as a reader and a writer.

There's a place for the nuts and bolts of writing, but it should never replace heart.

Writers:  What do you think? Have you ever written something, and it seems to fall flat? How do you keep techniques from replacing your passion for a subject/story?

Readers: What makes a book special to you?

Photo Credit: wito

Friday, May 10, 2013

Friday Round-Up - #233

Daniel Darling posted an article on how to get started writing. He gives some great tips that can benefit beginning writers.

Writers:  Can you share some tips with newbies?

Readers:  Have you ever thought of trying your hand at writing? Did any of these tips help you?

Have a blessed weekend!

Photo credit:  dlritter

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Best Laid Plans

The Best Laid Plans

As my (ahem) 39th and holding birthday approached in February, Mom inquired about my cake preferences. "Don't fuss, Mom. I'd be happy with a couple of brownies."

I later discovered Mom had other ideas. My day fell on a Saturday, and we had a couple of commitments with two ministries. We were also supposed to visit a friend Sunday afternoon, so there were ample "cake opportunities."

Those plans were cancelled, and a rather large sheet cake sat in her refrigerator. We enjoyed our own little party, but what could we do with the leftovers? Mom and I decided she could share it with her Wednesday Bible Study group. They usually have a crowd, and they finished it off for us.

As a writer, I sometimes make big plans. While goals are a positive, they don't always work out the way we hoped. Early in the process, I'd agreed to help with a small regional conference. My year was mapped out from start to finish.

Then the unthinkable happened. My husband was diagnosed with a virulent form of leukemia. All of my attention focused on him. Those writing goals no longer held the importance I'd attached to them.

During those times, my perspective went through a major shift. Writing settled into the correct spot on the priority list behind the Lord and my family.

After my husband passed away and I survived my own challenges, I looked at the experiences sitting in my mental refrigerator. Could the Lord do something with these leftovers? I was able to serve others slices of hope and God's faithfulness through non-fiction pieces, an email newsletter, and fiction.

When we're open to His leading, He takes our ruined plans and re-purposes them to minister love to others.

Writers:   What experiences have you gone through in your writing life that God turned around for your good?

Readers:  What difficult times have you seen God convert from lemons to lemonade?

Photo credit:  wjs7652

Friday, May 3, 2013

Friday Round-Up - #232

Blogging Buddy, Jessica Nelson, did an interesting post over at BookingIt. What happens when "should" and "want" collide?

I'm saving this one for future reference.

Writers: How do you ramp up the tension in your writing?

Readers: In real life we're often faced with inner conflict between what we want and what we should do. How do you resolve those type of issues?

Have a blessed weekend!

On My Nightstand - Arms of Love by Kelly Long

Lena Yoder and Adam Wyse knew they were meant for each other, but life interferes with their plans. The Amish face constant pressure from both the Patriots and the Tories. Adam is torn between honoring his pacifist Amish roots and fighting for freedom.

When Adam distances himself from his true love, she is forced to seek help from his older brother, Isaac. The impossibilities of her situation weigh heavily upon her, and she knows only God can turn it around.

This story started off at a slow pace, and I almost gave up on it. Oh, but I'm so glad I hung in there. The character development, especially of Adam Wyse, was superlative and the ending satisfying.

I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads. Enjoy!

Writers and Readers: When a book doesn't grab you immediately, do you hang in there and give it a chance? Why?