Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Elizabeth Maddrey {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Elizabeth...

Elizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace.

Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website or on Facebook:

How to connect with Elizabeth...

-->Website: Facebook:
--> Author RE:Interview | Getting to know Elizabeth Maddrey…again
--> You and Writing

Who is one of your favorite authors and why?
...I have so many favorites for various reasons, but Anne McCaffrey is a definite standout. She was able to blend so many different genres into her science fiction that they really have universal appeal. Plus, her characters are so amazing, it’s hard to remember that they’re not my real friends who just live far away.

What is one book or resource you would recommend to other writers? Why? 
...A good editor is a resource you really can’t do without. As a writer, we get so attached to our books that it’s hard to see the places where they’re ugly. Even when we’re looking for those ugly bits, we gloss over some of them. Having someone who will be honest (brutally so, if necessary) about the things that need fixing is critical. And then you just have to remember that you asked for their help, swallow the innate desire to be defensive, and implement the changes.

Share a writing-related milestone with us?
...This month I released my first indie project. I love the small press that has published the rest of my books (and has contracted another series for next year), but I’m pleased to have also taken the deep breaths necessary to dip my toe into the world of self-publishing.

How do you balance your time between writing and other actives? Any helpful tips, tricks, or suggestions? 
...Sometimes I’m not sure I do very well at this! The most helpful thing I try to keep in mind is actually something my husband reminded me of when I was expressing some mommy guilt because I was coming down to the wire with my deadline and I felt like everything else was slipping out of control: life has seasons. I try to keep things balanced and work a little writing into every day while keeping my priorities on the kids, homeschooling, and keeping the house tidy, but sometimes one has to take precedence over the others for a day or longer…and that’s okay. After the major hurdle is past, you rearrange and get back to the more balanced schedule. So it’s a matter of constantly evaluating and adjusting.

-->Your Writing
Tell us a little bit about your book.
...Kinsale Kisses is a contemporary romance that primarily takes place in Cork County, Ireland, though the hero and heroine are both Americans on travel.

Here’s the back cover:
She wants stability. He wants spontaneity. What they need is each other.

Colin O’Bryan cashed out of the software company he founded and started a new life in Ireland. Content to wander from town to town as a traveling musician, he had no goals beyond healing from the betrayals that led to his career change, and finding his next gig.

After the death of her parents, Rachel Sullivan hoped her aunt’s B&B on the Southern coast of Ireland would be a place for her to settle and start a new life. Though she can’t deny the sparks in Colin’s touch, his lack of concern for hearth and home leave her torn. Can this free-spirited minstrel win her heart or will Rachel choose roots and stability over love?
What was one trail you faced when writing it? One success?
...I initially wrote Kinsale Kisses for Pelican Book Group’s Passport to Romance line, but in the time it took for me to write, Ireland went from available to having a novella already contracted. I was bummed. Since it was so specific, there didn’t seem to be much point in trying to submit it elsewhere, but I’d fallen in love with the story and wanted it to have a chance for others to enjoy it as well. So for a success, I guess you could say it finally pushed me to give self-pubbing a try. I’d been kicking it around in the back of my head and this made me do more than that.

Who is your favorite character and why?
...As much as I love Rachel and Colin, I think Rachel’s Aunt Siobhan might be my favorite character. She’s a 70-something, feisty B&B proprietor who’s still willing to reach out and grab life by the horns.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...That God’s plans are bigger and better than ours, and when we fail, we need not be afraid to wait on Him.


Favorite writing snack: I try so hard not to snack while I write – if I start, it’s tough to stop. But if I absolutely have to munch, I aim for mixed nuts or a cheese stick.

Book you’re reading right now: Right now I’m beta-reading the second in a fantastic indie Christian fantasy series titled The Dragon’s Tongue. The first in the series is Things Unseen. Both are fantastic!

If you could go anywhere in the world for one month (for free) where would it be and why?
...This is hard. My knee-jerk response is Ireland – I adore Ireland. We’ve been twice and I’m dying to go back again. But there’s so much more of the world to see! My hubby and I are tentatively planning a trip to Scotland for our 20th anniversary next year, so that definitely makes the list but I also desperately want to see New Zealand before too long.

Enter to win a copy of Kinsale Kisses by leaving a comment below! I'll announce the winner next Tuesday.

Thanks for sharing with us Elizabeth! Your advice about swallowing the desire to defend your work to an editor (I'd add critique partner too) is so true and timely for me! I always think I want to hear critique...and yet when it comes it's always hard but good to take. Also love hearing about your next book - I love that its set in Ireland! So great that you've gone there two times already. I'm also extremely jealous of your tentative trip planned to Scotland. That is on the very top of my list :D

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I Pressed SEND

So...those of you who are friends with me on Facebook or who have *liked* my page (you can do that now if you haven't) may have seen my BIG news. But, on the chance that you didn't, I thought I'd share here.

I sent off my manuscript yesterday! 

A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into revising it, but now I've set it free. I think the hardest part is waiting...but at the same time, knowing that (no matter what happens) I'm proud of where the story is at now. Sure, it may will need more revision and I'll likely have to go nights without sleep while pulling out my hair, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

 I'll keep you all posted as time goes on about what the next step looks like :D

* * *

Lastly, June from last week offered up a copy of her novel Ryan's Father. We've got a winner...


Congrats, Jenette! I'll be emailing you today and we'll get you your book! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Nanoing To Success | NaNoWriMo Prep (part 4)

I'll admit that this post isn't necessarily about NaNoWriMo Prep, as much as it is about what to do after National Novel Writing Month.

So there you are. Sitting in a word coma. Shocked you made it to November 30th and your 50k deadline.

Reflected in the whites of your eyes is the bulk of your 30 days of blood, sweat, and tears. Your wonderful, amazing, award winning...okay, more like messy and haphazard, manuscript.

Now what?

First, go take a shower and eat some real food. Then, take at least a month off. Yes, you heard me right. Your hard earned work needs a little bit of alone time before you start ripping it to shreds, because I'm going to give it to you strait.

It probalby sinks.

Now, I won't speak for everyone because maybe you're just really great at writing on the spot for 30 days and not doing any editing, but for the rest of us in the real world, we'll need to spend some time--maybe lots of time--on our book to get it into shape. So, here's my advice for taking the next step with your novel.

 7 NaNoWriMo Novel Boot Camp Tips 

**I'm writing on the assumption you've finished the book. 50k isn't really 'finished' for most novels so you may want to kick in a few extra days/weeks at the end of NaNoWriMo to get to the end before starting in on these steps. 

1. Rest
Maybe you don't have the luxury of stopping all writing completely, but I would highly recommend giving yourself a break from your NaNo novel. Why? Because you've just spent way too many waking hours agonizing over this thing of beauty. It needs time to recede from the shores of your mind so that you can accurately pull it back togehter.

2. Read
Take this glorious off-time to refresh not only your body, but your mind. Pick up a book (not your book) and read, read, read. Enjoy a story that doesn't need to be created! Be inspired.

3. Prepare
As a month (or whatever time period you need) comes to completion, start preparing yourself for edits. Ugh, dreaded edits and revisions! But, as I've come to realize, a book is not written in a first draft, but in multiple drafts.

4. Start
This is possibly the hardest part. Starting the revision and editing process. Take your time, but be diligent.

5. Finish
Push through to the end. You'll be tempted to keep editing the first chapter (or first three in my case) but don't let that keep you from getting to the end.

6. Repeat
Yep, you heard me. Make it to the end, then start again. Revision is a beautiful, delicate process--haha who am I kidding? It can be painful and frustrating! But it's just what your book needs.

7. Release
What do I mean? Let the book go... and I mean it. Really let it go. Have someone you trust read it! I'd recommend someone who has experience critiquing, but get it away from your own eyes and into those of another. They'll be able to see plot or character flaws, and their helpful criticisms will help you grow as a writer, even if you don't like what they say at first ;)

So...are you ready? We've got 4 days and a few odd hours before we get to DIVE IN! I can't wait and hope that I can interact with you all here on the blog.

I'll be doing updates when possible and would love to keep up with your progress here on Thinking Thoughts and on my Facebook page

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

June Foster {Writer Wednesday} + GIVEAWAY

Leave a comment for June at the bottom to enter for a chance to win a copy of her novel, Ryan's Father!

A little bit about June...

An award-winning author, June Foster is also a retired teacher with a BA in Education and a MA in counseling. In 2013, June's book Give Us This Day was a finalist in EPIC's eBook awards and in 2014 a finalist in the National Readers Choice Awards for best first book. Ryan's Father won The Clash of the Titles book of the month for 2014 and is one of three finalists in the published contemporary fiction category of the 2014 Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Writing Contest and Awards. June has written four novels for Desert Breeze Publishing. The Bellewood Series, Give Us This Day, As We Forgive, and Deliver Us, as well as Hometown Fourth of July. Ryan's Father is available from WhiteFire Publishing. Red and the Wolf, a modern day retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, is available from June loves to write stories about characters who overcome the circumstances in their lives by the power of God and His Word. June uses her training in counseling and her Christian beliefs in creating characters who find freedom to live godly lives.

How to connect with June...

Infinite Characters:
Purchase: Ryan's Father

Author Interview | June Foster 

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?

...I am a retired school teacher with two children and ten grandchildren. Oh, and yes, one great grandchild. The unique thing about me is I didn't start writing until four and a half years ago. God set me on the road to becoming an author and has kept me there.
...Here's how it began. My husband and I were enjoying our retired life and traveling in our RV. For a while I noticed a story lurking in my head, which had never happened before. When I told it to my daughter and she commented that I should write it, that was the spark the Lord used. I started writing Christian romance and haven't stopped. I've got too many more stories to tell.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...Ryan's Father is probably my favorite because it took courage for me to write and WhiteFire to publish. The story is one that has stepped out of the "Christian box," yet needed to be told. I pray God is changing lives with Ryan's story.

If published, what was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...The hardest thing about being published is the continual responsibility for marketing. These days, authors are expected to do their own advertising and I am not good at it. I thank God I have a wonderful publicist who helps me. The easiest thing, I think, if celebrating when I hold that book in my hand and see the author's name, June Foster.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book. Why did you write it?
...Ryan's Father is the story of a young Christian man who loves the Lord and wants to remain obedient to him yet struggles with homosexuality. To make things more difficult, a beautiful young nurse falls in love with him. Though he leads her to faith in Christ, the attraction most guys feel for a woman aren't there. I wrote this story because I'd like to see Christians who struggle with this issue set free.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...Of course it has to be Ryan. Ryan was the most difficult character I've ever written, especially since I'm a heterosexual female and he was a homosexual male. What I love the most about Ryan is his faith in God and how he allows the Lord to work in his life.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...A person struggling with homosexuality can be set free if they truly desire freedom and completely abandon themselves to the Lord.


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...My characters are based on real life people I know but are a composite of several rather than just one person. I have to admit, I don't know anyone like my heroine in Misty Hollow, Molly Cambridge, so I struggled with her character.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...One of these days, I'd like to write a novel that provides an imaginary place to get lost. But so far, my goal with my books is to write about characters who struggle with problems common to many Christians. My prayer is many will find hope and freedom through their stories.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Keep on writing and perfecting your skills through critique groups and "how to" books. Toughen up your feelings. You will get many rejections. Don't take any of them personally but learn from them. This has been one of my hardest obstacles to hurtle.


In honor of the fall, what’s your favorite fall treat?
...Hot apple cider and spice cake. 

When you were a child, what did you dream of growing up to be?
...I wanted to be a teacher like my mother and aunt. But now, in retrospect, I think I would've enjoyed being an interior designer or psychologist.

Will you participate in National Novel Writing Month? If so, what’s your plan to keep your writing on track?
...Not sure right now. I never have before, but I might think about it.

Thanks for being my guest today June! I'm amazed at your boldness in writing such a potentially controversial book. I love how God places stories in our hearts for a reason and purpose. We never know what He will do through what we write. And, speaking of spice I want to go make one ;)

Don't forget to leave a comment, readers. I'll announce the winner next Tuesday!

Monday, October 20, 2014

What to do when you're not feeling the NaNo | NaNoWriMo Prep (part 3)

Burn out. Tiredness. Writers block. (gasp!)

It happens to all of us, but when you're in the midst of Nano you do not want to deal with any of these things - or a multitude of other issues you could face. No writer likes to be almost feels as if your creativity is betraying you. Laughing at your lack of ability to write.

Well, I'm here to tell you today that there is no such thing as writers block...

Oh wait, no. Oops. I'm not here to tell you that. That's a real thing. *Cringes* But I am here to tell you that it's okay.

Maybe that's not what you wanted to hear? But it's true. Yes - there will likely come a time when  you are "blocked". Maybe you're not sure how your character will get out of a certain situation? Or maybe your main character suddenly has a heart attack and dies (not preferable at all).

The beauty of NaNoWriMo is that those things are perfectly all right! You know what you do then? You write on.

But it's terrible writing. 
But I no longer have a main character. 
But I can't figure out her motivation. 

You get the point. And what do you do? Write on. Just like Dr. Who is recommending here >>>

You may wonder what I'm getting at. There are plenty of times when published authors are not inspired. What do they do? Sit in a corner an sulk? Probably not. Though mabye they do...?

I'm basically trying to point out that, if they can overcome not being inspired, then so can you!
What you do with lack of inspiration is the important thing.
Here are 5 things that I recommend you attempt when you're at the burn out stage or even the writers block stage. They aren't guaranteed to "fix" everything, but they may help you gain back some of your inspiration, and if not - they can give you strength to keep on writing, despite the dry creative desert you may be in.

5 Ways To Gain Inspiration

1. Take a walk
I don't know about you, but I love being outdoors. The feel of wind on my face, the sun shining or clouds...clouding? Yeah. But, being outside is so invigorating. When I'm feeling stuck, I often like to take a walk and look around me. People watching is a great way to gain inspiration, but also looking at nature reminds us that God is creative too. Pair this with # 5 and  you've got a great combination for inspiration. (Did that sound cheesy or what?)

2. Read a book
No. I'm not saying "steal ideas" but I am saying be inspired by good writing. Often, I will subconsciously learn through the books that I'm reading (another reason it's so important to read authors in your genre and authors who's writing you love). Let their words encourage you - and remember, they had off days (weeks, months, years) too!

3. Plan, plot, proceed
When I say "write on" I really do mean it. But, Emilie, you protest, I'm uninspired!  I hear you, and I sympathize, but I will play the unaffected drill sergeant and say, "I don't care if you're uninspired, I want you to WRITE!" Plan out where you're going - even if it's not thrilling to you at the moment. Plot your hero/heroin's next moves. And proceed! Yes, it maybe awful writing but I have a feeling sooner rather than later you'll be on a roll again. Inspiration is funny like that. Fleeting for a few moments but quickly found when you least expect it.

4. Talk it out
This is where those writing buddies I mentioned before come in. Complain to them. Do a little whining. Maybe even bash your characters to them, but then talk it out. Have them help you gain back that inspiration or burst through that writers block. Even if you don't like their ideas, you may find yourself back on track due to their influence.

5. Pray
We write for more than just ourselves. Bearing the burden of ideas and the words to carry them out is a gift. You may feel like you're "just writing a novel" for NaNoWriMo, but it's so much more than that. When all else fails, take time to refocus your heart. Even a silly little novel written for Nano can become something amazing.

Are you encouraged my friends? Make sure to come back to this post if you find yourself drowning in the midst of November. We'll all probably hit a wall here and there, but these things can help when you feel like your creative well has momentarily dried up.

What do you do to gain inspiration?

***Check out last week's post here. And part 1 here.

Friday, October 17, 2014

2014 NaNoWriMo Support

As writers, we face our glowing screens more than we see human faces sometimes. Our fingers get accustomed to the clicking of keys, and our bodies to occupying chairs.

It's not a bad life, really. Especially if you're like me - and introverted extrovert ;-)

BUT - relying solely on ourselves for all things writing related gets difficult. No matter how introverted you are, you still need people. Say it with me: People are friends, not food. Oh wait--that's something different....

Anyway, back to my point. We need friends to make it in this world of writing. Especially if we're going to put ourselves through the torture fun of writing a 50,000 word novel in a month.

Enter...Exhibit A: A Facebook NaNoWriMo Support group! Come know you want to cheer right now! 

Exhibit B: Yep, that's the digitized you.

Exhibit C: A cheesy graphic representing all the fun people you'll meet in this group! Don't worry, we won't be holding hands...

So, what more do I need to do to convince you to join the group? Probably not much, right? It was the photos, wasn't it?

If I have indeed convinced you to hop on the Nano train, then let me convince you to join the Nano support group. Right now we're in the brainstorming stage and I'm posting some helpful things to inspire, encourage, and insight enthusiasm about Nov 1.

Once we hit "go time", we'll be doing things like word count checks, word sprints, communal complaining, and maybe even some fun video sharing of "writers in real time". The possibilities are endless as is the encouragement you'll find among a community of writers all facing the same thing - lack of sleep, over use of caffeine, and the voices in our heads telling us what to do.

Request to join the group today:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Cari Schaeffer {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Cari...

Cari has worn numerous hats in life. She proudly wore the uniform of the US Air Force. After serving, she worked as a critical care RN for almost a decade. She also owned her own Personal Chef and Catering company for six years. Finally, she chose to turn her attention back to her family.
Closing her business hasn’t made her a couch potato. She cooks at the weekly Wednesday night dinners for her church, and volunteers at the Cross Talk Café in support of the Celebrate Recovery church ministry on Friday nights. She has volunteered her time as a Mentor Mom for two MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) groups. When she’s not busy in the church doors, she’s happily entertaining people in her home.

She not only has a passion for writing, but also for serving. She views writing as a form of service for people from all walks of life. Jesus used story-telling to convey life principles, why can’t we do the same?

She lives in southern Illinois with her ridiculously patient husband of twenty four years, three children, and her two Chihuahua guard dogs, Snoopy and Stanley. Faith, Hope, Love, and Chocolate is her first novel.

How to connect with Cari...

Facebook: Cari Schaeffer 
Goodreads: Cari Schaeffer
Purchase: Faith, Hope, Love, and Chocolate

Author Interview | Cari Schaeffer

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...Writing this, my first novel, has been such an incredible journey. It started with my love of great books. My family can attest to the fact that I have been known to read a great novel in a day. I’ve read many wonderful books and a few not so great books. In fact, after finishing one particular book that in my opinion was terrible, I slammed it shut and determined to write a novel better than that. I love a great, engaging plot but really don’t like reading explicit material or foul language. I accomplished that goal.

If published, what was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...There are three ways to become published: Traditional, Indie, or Vanity. Indie and Vanity are under the umbrella of “Self-Publishing”, but they are not the same thing. I immediately dismissed the Vanity option – it requires the author to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket. 

...I am an Indie author, so for me the hardest part was learning the process. Now that I’ve learned it, it is no longer difficult. Initially in my research, I intended to go traditional, but after discovering the narrowness of the funnel and the years involved, I prayed and felt led to go the Indie route. If I had continued on the traditional publishing trajectory, I would most likely be receiving a dribble of the torrent of rejections that would continue on for years. I’m too impatient for that - I have work to do and people to reach. Gatekeepers are no longer necessary.

...The easiest thing about publishing, honestly, is going Indie. It’s an incredibly satisfying and simple route to take that has given me great rewards, both financially and through reader feedback. I couldn’t imagine this journey any other way.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book. Why did you write it?
...My first novel, Faith, Hope, Love, and Chocolate is the story of a woman who has allowed one horrific experience to warp not only her view of God, but of herself and her worth. I have yet to meet one woman that isn’t somehow injured or broken because of life. I wrote this book with the hope that it will minister to broken women. It deals with death, infertility, infidelity, parenting, marriage, and friendships. I want women to know how incredibly unique and truly priceless we all are, as defined by God, not by others or by life.

...My next work is going to be a trilogy that covers a little more than two decades in military life. There are so many things that those who have not experienced military life don’t really know. I have collected a number of real life stories from those who’ve worn the uniform themselves and those that have supported them. They’re encouraging, heart-breaking, horrifying, and gratifying all at the same time. I hope I can do it justice.

Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...I find my inspiration from my interactions with people and my experiences in life. In this first novel, the experiences are not based on any one person and none of the experiences are taken straight from anyone’s life. Rather, they are snapshots and stories that I have heard over the years and that have touched me deeply. I took some of those snapshots and stories and, through prayer and much thought, allowed my imagination to weave a fictitious life that a lot of women can relate to.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I want to follow the example Jesus set for us – teach life principles through telling stories. I hope that I can reach my readers through feeling the pain, suffering, laughter, tears, and joy that my characters feel. I write complete resumes for my characters. In some cases, even down to their favorite colors – I want them to be REAL.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?

...GO FOR IT! If you are led to walk this path, don’t let anyone tell you no. Pray, learn the craft (never stop that, ever) and just jump into the deep end with eyes wide open. There are numerous paths to being published now that allow the author to connect directly with the reader. I look at writing as a written conversation and speaking for myself, I don’t want an interpreter between me and my audience. It’s also important to accept feedback with discernment. Criticism, when offered constructively, is a GOOD thing.


In honor of the fall, what’s your favorite fall treat?
...Oh, boy – I love a really good s’more made with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (Lord have mercy on me…). I actually included some recipes in the back of my novel that the characters enjoy throughout the story and S’Mores Bars is one of them. I love the crimson, gold, and burnt orange colors on the trees and that little nip in the air that allows me to still wear shorts, but requires a sweatshirt, too. Fall is a beautiful time of the year! It means Thanksgiving and Christmas are on the way! How could anyone not love THAT?

Great hearing from you Cari! I love all of the different experiences you've had in life - I'm sure they add a richness to your characters and writing! Your advice to "go for it" is so awesome - I've got a post coming up in a few weeks talking about dreaming and this applies there too :) And oh my--you have me waning Reese's Peanut Butter Cup S'Mores now...