Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Vannetta Chapman {Writer Wednesday}

First off, I wanted to announce last weeks winner! I had the privileged of having Krista Phillips on the blog and she graciously offered up a copy of her novel, A Side of Faith away. Our winner is:

Robin Mason

Congrats, Robin, we'll get you hooked up with your copy soon :)

A little bit about Vannetta...

Vannetta Chapman writes inspirational fiction full of grace. She has published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines, receiving more than two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace of Albion, Pennsylvania.

Her novel, Falling to Pieces, is a 2012 ACFW Carol Award finalist. A Promise for Miriam earned a spot on the June 2012 Christian Retailing Top Ten Fiction list. Chapman writes Amish fiction for Abingdon Press, Zondervan, and Harvest House. She lives in the Texas hill country with her husband.

How to connect with Vannetta...

Website: http://vannettachapman.com
Blog: http://vannettachapman.com/blog/ 
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3506785.Vannetta_Chapman
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VannettaChapmanBooks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/VannettaChapman


Author Interview | Vannetta Chapman  

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I was an English teacher for 15 years (high school and college), and I’ve always been an avid reader. After finishing my MA in English, I began writing articles for Christian magazines—a few years after that I challenged myself to write a novel. It took a few years before I was picked up by an agent, and a publisher, but it’s been a fabulous journey.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why? 
...I love the characters in my Shipshewana Amish Mystery series, and I still receive requests to write more of those books.


Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book. Why did you write it?
...Hidden is the story of Dana Jacobs—who SEEMS to have it all together, but in fact is held back in her personal and spiritual life by events in her past. Faith is something she stopped having as a small child. Now Ben Marshall is in her life—a steady, calming, faithful presence, and she doesn’t know what to do with him. When they become deeply involved in a case that threatens both their town and their lives, Dana must decide if she’s going to let her past define her. She must decide whether she’s going to live in fear, or live by faith. It’s a fun, suspenseful story that focuses on God’s grace and love for us.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...I adore Dana—she’s vulnerable but strong. But I’d have to say my favorite character is Ben. He has a strong faith, enthusiasm for life and a real love for others. He’s a fun guy to be around and someone I would want on my side.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...That God’s grace can cover all of our hurts, heal our scars, and give us hope.

Writing

Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...A little of both. Sometimes I’ll read a news article and get an idea for a character or story. Sometimes people I know will inspire me to write about a certain kind of character.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I say that I write “fiction full of grace” and that is my one intention. The book can be in any genre, and it can be in different settings and circumstances. The one guide is that I somehow reveal God’s grace in our lives.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...To keep writing – The 9th book I wrote was the first book published. 

You

What will you/did you do for Thanksgiving?
...We have a scattered and blended family, so I’m not sure! I try to keep my plans fluid. I don’t want any of our children to feel pressured by the holidays. The main thing is to be grateful we have one another, whether we get together on that particular day or not.

What is your favorite food of the Thanksgiving dinner?
...Cranberry sauce—I adore it.

What are three things you’re thankful for?
...My family, my church, and my work!

_________________________

Thank you so much for being on the blog today! I love the premise of Hidden, it sounds like a fantastic book :D I also like how you say you want to write about "God's grace in our lives". I think that's something that, as you say, can span any genre or setting. I hope you have a fantastic Thanksgiving tomorrow and again, thanks for sharing with us today.

Enter to win a copy of Hidden. Leave a comment for Vannetta below and/or share your favorite Thanksgiving tradition! 
 

Monday, November 24, 2014

NaNoWriMo Inspiration: Caffeine, Sugar & Writing Sprints (part 4)

Week 4.

Yeah...just soak that up right now. We are in WEEK 4 :D

To help you get a little boost I'd like to kindly remind you of 3 very important things for this week. *Cough* Okay--1 important thing, and 2 less important but equally available things.


Caffeine

Take it how you will...coffee, tea, 5 hour energy ((shudders)) but do yourself a favor and consume some soon because this week it will be one of your best friends!


Sugar 

My dear friend Corrine and I have a bad habit of getting cupcakes whenever we hang out (my cupcake consumption has greatly decreased since I moved away *sad face*). Maybe for you your "sugar" isn't even sugar at all - I know plenty of people who can live without chocolate (though I'm not sure how...?) but if chips are your downfall - give in! Only for this week though, of course.


Writing Sprints

Lastly, the one thing that may actually help you accomplish your word goals this week - Writing Sprints. What that looks like is setting a timer - for either 15, 20, or 30 minutes - and writing your little heart out. Once the time is up, take a 10 minute break and then go back to sprinting again. Track your progress for fun, or grab some friends to join you and challenge each other to see who gets the most words!

So, good luck for week 4 and surviving that PLUS Thanksgiving...I know it wont be easy but I believe in you!

How are you doing? Behind? Ahead? Catching up?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Taking a Well-Deserved Nano Break

We've all been there. Distracted by...everything. Knowing we should be writing but not. Thinking that anything would be better than being so distracted at THIS moment.

As much as I like writing, I am really, really good at getting easily distracted....As part of that distraction, I've compiled a list of things I enjoy being distracted by. I think it's good to take a little time off once in a while. The key here is tracking that time. I recommend setting a timer for anywhere between 15-20 minutes, getting the distraction out of the way, then jumping back into your Nano novel.

The 8 Distractions of Nanoing

1. Pinterest

I know what you're thinking, I could be sucked in for hours! And, while that's true, I have a few recommendations. 1) Set a timer as I said above 2) Select what you will allow yourself to look for (examples: recipes, hairstyles, clothes for you your character, funny memes) 3) Close it out when your timer is up -  no convincing yourself that you have a few more minutes!
Hey, come follow me on Pinterest :D


2. Pretty Pictures

I'm kinda weird when it comes to my desktop backgrounds - it's got to be the photographer in me. I need my backgrounds to reflect my mental state (not sure I know WHAT that really means). For me, the moment it should be fall I'll have leaves and trees up there. Now that it's winter, I've started my search for the perfect winter scenes. I found this fun website called Wall Paper Stop and they are free (here is the page for winter scenes). Since I have a Mac, each desktop I have (I use 4) has a different scene on it :)


3. New Music

Also being a musician, music is important to me. I love Spotify because of its one time monthly fee ensuring I can listen to all my favorite music pretty much everywhere (no, that wasn't a sales pitch haha). With the changing of seasons I'm now into the Christmas music realm! Making a new playlist can be a great distraction.


4. Snacking

During Nano I pretty much survive on tea, pretzels, and air popped popcorn...okay, not totally, but I do gravitate to these things for snacks. When I'm stuck with my novel and feeling hungry, I'll take a break to grab a snack.

5. Facebook 

As dangerous as Pinterest, Facebook is another good AND bad distraction haha. Same rules apply browsing as Pinterest.

Join me on Facebook too!
6. Clean

I know, you're laughing at me. Who wants to clean as a distraction? Well, that's the beauty of distractions! You'll do just about anything to get out of writing for the moment. Use it to your advantage.

7. Be productive

Procrastination and distraction can be great for getting other things done. Try answering emails, writing a blog post, or getting something done you've been putting off.

8. Read

A last, great choice is to read! My TBR (To Be Read) pile is HUGE (not all books are pictured here) but these are some I'm working on right now. When Nano and photo craziness is over I plan on getting through sooo many books...but taking short breaks to knock out a few chapters is definitely helpful!

So.... what about you? What do you do for distraction? 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Small Part of the Whole

Ever since I was a little girl I've been fascinated by books, enchanted by happy endings, and consumed with stories. I saw plots in everything (I still do) and found myself daydreaming more than I'd like to admit.

Now, as I'm officially "grown up" (or at least I'm supposed to be) I still find that these same things hold my attention. I'm sucked into "what if" scenarios in my mind all the time. A line from an article or blog or a photograph can cause me to tailspin into another world. One of my own making.

Have you ever had a dream so big you thought you'd explode unless it came true? 

Sometimes I feel that way about writing. I know I don't need to be published to be a writer. Though the validation does sound appealing. To think that someone could find my writing intriguing enough to make a commitment to it. To endorse it. To believe in it like I already do...

And yet that's not what it's about, is it? It's not about validation, though I want that. It's not about credit or notoriety either, though I also seem to want that at times too.

It's about passion. 

I am passionate about writing. Sometimes I doubt whether my writing is any good, but at the end of the day if I'm not writing because I love it, then I'm writing for the wrong reasons. That doesn't mean I don't want to learn and improve my craft, because I do. And I realize that improvement will be painful and almost unbearable at times, but it will be worth it.

The dreamer in me has plans. Oh so many plans and schemes and hopes. Things I think could happen and things that only God could bring about.

But for me...for now...it's enough to dream and see what He makes of it all. Because, in reality, I am only a small part of the whole. A piece in the puzzle.

And that is enough for me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Krista Phillips {Writer Wednesday} + GIVEAWAY

Welcome Krista to the blog! Make sure you leave a comment for her to enter for a chance to win a copy of A Side Of Faith! 
 
A little bit about Krista...

Krista Phillips is the author of Sandwich, with a Side of Romance and A Side of Faith. She enjoys life with her husband and their four beautiful daughters in Tennessee. She is an advocate for congenital heart defect and organ donation awareness and blogs at www.kristaphillips.com.

How to connect with Krista...

Website:www.kristaphillips.com  
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/kristaphillips  
Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorkristaphillips  
Twitter: www.twitter.com/kristaphillips
Purchase: A Side of Faith (A Sandwich Novella) (Volume 1) 

Author Interview | Krista Phillips


You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I started writing when I was 19. I outlined this dramatic romance filled with tears and emotions... I never got past chapter 3. Marriage and kids and work came, and still... chapter 3 always haunted me.

...In 2007, God tapped on my heart and whispered that it was time to put aside chapter 3 and write something different.

...So I tried my hand at a bit of a romantic comedy, and 3 months later, I'd finished my first novel! Adding a bit of fun to my books was exactly what I'd been missing!


Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...Honestly, that first book I wrote will always be my favorite. I'd have to completely rewrite it for it to be publishable, but it was my first baby and I'll always treasure that story.

What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
Hardest: Waiting.
Easiest: Getting caught up in the story world. It's my favorite part!


Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about what you're working on right now.
...I'm actually working on two right now. I'm finishing up a novella, A Side of Hope that will be releasing in January.

...But the full length I'm currently editing and polishing is called
The Price of Love. I've always had a not-so-secret guilty pleasure of watching The Bachelor/The Bachelorette. Most times it's like watching a train wreck that you just can't tear your eyes away from. It flows like fiction, but these are real people's lives. I've always been fascinated by the idea of what goes on "after" the show, so wanted to write a story about that. So The Price of Love takes place six months AFTER my characters were contestants on a reality TV dating show that I made up. :-)

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...Oh yes. Hanna is the main character, and I pretty much love her. She's sweet but tough, a petite blond who carries around a hunting rifle in her big ol' truck, and loves Jesus.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...That God calls us to love and forgive. To lift each other up instead of tear each other down. That the words, the things we say, even on social media, can have long reaching effects that impact more than we could ever imagine.


Writing
Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...A little bit of both! Most times they start from something real life sparked in my mind, and then they morph into something very unique.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I'm a mom who loves to read. Reading is my recreation, my escape time from the crazy that is my life. That's what I want my books to be. A clean read that allows a woman to relax and escape for just a bit, to laugh a little, maybe cry a little, and at the end, be encouraged in their relationship with Jesus.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Give your writing career to Jesus. His hands are the BEST place for it.

You

What will you/did you do for Thanksgiving?
...EAT TURKEY! We do a big family Thanksgiving with my side of the family. I'll make cinnamon rolls for breakfast, then go to my sister's house and enjoy dinner with my parents and siblings and their families. The house will be packed with probably 25-30 people. Then we sit around and play Euchre and look at Black Friday ads in the paper!

What is your favorite food of the Thanksgiving dinner?
...My mom's mashed potatoes and selfishly, my rolls. I make GIANT yeast rolls that are pretty much amazing, if I do say so myself.

What are three things you’re thankful for?
1.) Jesus
2.) My family 

3.) The ability to stay home with my girls and do what I love.

___________________________

Thank you so much for joining us here at Thinking Thoughts! I love the idea of your next book - sounds really interesting. I've often wondered the same things. I also really appreciate your approach to writing and what your intentions are for writing. I think we can all use a little bit of escape now and then :)  And AMEN to handing our writing careers over to Jesus. I'm totally on board with that! Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and hope to see you back on the blog soon!

Readers, don't forget to leave a comment for Krista below to enter to win a copy of her novel, A Side Of Faith.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Nowhere to Turn by Lynette Eason | RE:View

Danielle Harding and her son Simon face a serious problem - Kurt, an abusive husband and father. After finally working up the courage to leave, Danielle discovers that her husband has died. Initially, Danielle thinks it's an answer to her prayers for deliverance, but instead she finds the trouble has just started.

In order to protect her son, Danielle turns to Adam Buchanan of Operation Refuge for help. Will he be able to find them a safe house while dealing with his own personal issues? Will Danielle and Simon finally be able to breathe easy, knowing they are safe? Or will Kurt's last wishes haunt his family long after he's gone.

I had the chance to read the first book in this series, No One To Trust, and enjoyed this second installment. Eason is great at keeping you guessing all the way to the end! I will say, however, that some parts did feel a little slow in the middle and I found myself wishing there had been a little bit more chemistry between Adam and Danielle.

That said, this was a great, thrilling read that will surprise you over and over again. A definite recommendation to those who like romantic suspense!

Purchase: Nowhere to Turn: A Novel (Hidden Identity) (Volume 2)

Book Description
(from Lynette's website)
The day Danielle Harding takes her 11-year-old son, Simon, and flees from her abusive husband, is the same day Kurt Harding dies. A relieved Dani believes she and her son are finally safe–but in reality, the danger has just begun. When Kurt was alive, he took something important to a mysterious person. That person wants the item back and believes Dani now has it. As she and her son run for their lives, they have nowhere to turn, until she hires Adam Buchanan of Operation Refuge and goes into hiding. Unfortunately, she won’t be able to hide for long . . .

From the first breathless scene, this tension-laced story will hold readers in its iron grip. Bestselling author Lynette Eason propels readers along at a breakneck pace in a race to discover the truth and a better future.
_______________ 
I received a free copy of this book for review purposes, but was under no obligation to read the book or post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own.

Monday, November 17, 2014

NaNoWriMo Inspiration: Just Keep Writing (part 3)

First off, I'd like to invite you all to hop on over to the Seekerville blog today and join in on the conversation! We're talking about photography and writing and how that plays out in descriptive writing!

Join the fun: http://seekerville.blogspot.com/2014/11/writing-like-photographer-key-to.html

 ***


 We're into crazy Week 3!!! Can you believe it?

As of right now I'm at 26,868 words (yes, behind for today...) but hope to meet my daily goal by tonight! How are you doing?

What's that you say? You're stuck? You're behind? You've never written so many words all in one place before? You don't know where you're stories going? You're almost done with the plot you'd planned to use...and you're only half way through the month?

Well, not to worry - you're not alone if you can say any of the above statements. If fact, you're in great company! I've heard from several friends who are desperately behind, don't know what their next chapter will be, are almost at the end of their plot, or are just plain tired.

Sometimes it helps to know you're in good company.

But, as much as the sentiment is good, that doesn't mean it helps your writing. I've compiled a list of ten things you can do to add to your word count.

10 Ways to "Just Keep Writing"

1. Keep writing. 
Yep, simple as that sounds, it's important that you don't give up! You

2. Do some research.
If you're stuck, sometimes the best way to get "unstuck" is to gain more insight into something you're writing about. Personal example: Researching gunshot sounds...it not only helped me describe a scene, but add to it as well!

3. Take a break.
Stressed you aren't going to make your personal deadline? Take a break. Go for a walk, make a cup of coffee, take a short nap. Take the time to let your creativity rest and it's almost a guarantee you'll gain some inspiration to get back to it!

4. Talk to someone.
Talk out your plot! I did that a few nights ago at dinner with my roommates and -BAM- got an idea.

5. Add a plot twist. 
Lacking in word count? Add a plot twist.  You may have to go back and set it up in earlier chapters, but if you can think of something to add that will not only add interest but words, do it!

6. Add a character.
Again, you may need to go back and add them into the beginning (something to be done AFTER NaNo) but stick them in there now. I'd recommend adding notes about areas where you think you could add them in earlier, just not doing that during November.

7. Add a subplot.
In line with adding things, if you are close to the end of your novel and you're only half way through NaNo (maybe 25k words or so) you definitely could benefit from adding a subplot. Maybe it doesn't start until half way through, or maybe you'll add in more later, but either way, you'll need something to help you sustain momentum until the end!

8. Extend your scenes. 
You don't want to go around prolonging everything...but maybe some of your scenes are too short? Consider lengthening some here and there but make sure the additions are profitable and not just filler ;)

9. Think it through.
Take a few minutes, sit back, and really think through your plot. This, in combination with #3, can be very helpful. It's like when your mind relaxes at night before bed and you get a great idea. Your brain needs space to work and think in order to create. Give it that space.

10. Draw out feelings and emotions.
These things are SO helpful! Not only for adding words (hehe) but also for really creating a scene that you can feel and include your readers in. Take time to make sure you're adding in thoughts, feelings, and actions.

So, how are you holding up in the excitement of week two?