Posts Tagged ‘Christian Writers’

This historical Christian fiction by one of my favorite authors, Michelle Griep, was published by Shiloh Run Press, an imprint of Barbour Publishing Inc., in March of this year (2018). Although a stand alone, this book has a slight connection to a previous novel, Brentwood’s Ward, as its main characters are associates. This is a nice addition for those of us who have read the former book.

Johanna Langley is fighting a losing battle to preserve the Blue Hedge Inn; it’s all that stands between her family—Johanna, her mother and her young brother—and the workhouse. The realities of 1808 England are harsh: no social welfare, no government handouts, no adequate health care, no prisoners’ rights, etc. All things we take for granted.

When Alexander Morton shows up to stay at the decrepit Blue Hedge Inn, he wonders why his “handler” has sent him there, but he soon becomes interested in the feisty Johanna.

A series of unfortunate incidents and accidents prevents Johanna from coming up with the money needed to pay off the debt against the inn. Alex assists when he can, but he is unaware of the details, and is otherwise engaged in his own assignment. He risks his life to find the person or persons involved in suspected treason, to the point of jeopardizing his growing relationship with Johanna. Who is the real traitor, who can be trusted, how much risk is too much?

I enjoyed The Innkeeper’s Daughter for many reasons, not the least of which is Griep’s skill in creating fascinating characters. No one is as they seem, not even Johanna’s old “mam.” She is the source of my favorite quote: “God is not sitting about, watching impassive. Our tears are His. You never—ever—cry alone.” (Location 3489)

Two of the quirkiest characters, Mr. Nutbrown and his puppet, Nixie, are a great pacing agent for the intense plot, as Mr. Nutbrown can apparently only speak to others through Nixie. This obviously causes mixed responses from his various associates.

The author is a pro at using figures of speech to engage the reader. Her description of a terrible in-house band at the inn reads thus: “an off-key violin, a bodhran that could use a good tightening, and two mandolins dueling to the death…a voice jagged enough to weather the whitewash on the plaster” (Location 365)

She personifies the weather as: “Bird chatter was as loud as a gathering of washerwomen. The only thing amiss was the pewter sky, clouds bullying down with grey fists.” (Location 1557)

Similes and metaphors apropos of the times abound: “Her mind was as dodgy as a pickpocket’s fingers.” (Location 402) “The two were close as scabs on a pox victim.” (Location 516) And another of my favorite quotes: “Without so much as a flinch, Alex stared down the barrel of the loaded question.” (Location 1704)

The intriguing plot of this book is well-researched and fits the time and setting perfectly.

My takeaway from this story, beyond the obvious enjoyment of reading it, was that people are not always (or often) what they seem, and that even when the going is tough, God is ultimately in control. Thanks, Michelle, for another great read.


Michelle Griep

Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Website: http://www.michellegriep.com

Twitter: michellegriep

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Influences: Bronte, Peretti, Sandburg

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/michellegriep

Short Bio:  I hear voices. Loud. Incessant. And very real. Which basically gives me two options: choke back massive amounts of Prozac or write fiction. I chose the latter. Way cheaper. I’ve been writing since I discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. I seek to glorify God in all that I write…except for that graffiti phase I went through as a teenager. Oops. Did I say that out loud?


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December 2017 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Rebecca’s Redemption by Lee Carver — A nurse seeking redemption for past sins joins a doctor contending against the jungle. Both healers need healing. (Contemporary, Independently Published)

Contemporary Romance:

The Christmas Baby by Lisa Carter — Mistletoe Mommy Anna Reyes is pregnant and widowed, and a Christmas homecoming isn’t so simple. Reuniting with her best friend, Ryan Savage, makes it easier—even though she knows he’ll soon be leaving their small coastal hometown. After putting his career on hold for his family’s business, Ryan’s finally ready to pursue his goals. But as he and Anna work to make the holidays special for a group of at-risk kids, Ryan wonders if he can give up one dream for another. They’re determined to make this a Christmas to remember, but can Ryan and Anna also make their holiday family last forever? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

You’re Gonna Love Me by Robin Lee Hatcher — Nick’s love of thrills and danger and Samantha’s love of safety and security drove them apart two years ago. After her worst fears came true, can they build something new upon the ashes of the past? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

A Christmas Kind of Perfect by Christine Schimpf — Conrad Hamilton thought his life would be easy. A great job running his own construction business, living in his hometown in Door County, Wisconsin, with Lila Clark by his side. He planned on marrying her as soon as she returned from her Chicago internship but it never happened.
Lila never expected to become a successful writer nor did she plan on spending the last decade in New York. But she did. Can the magic of Christmas turn two hearts back to one another again or is it too late to capture that special kind of perfect? (Contemporary Romance from Prism Christian Publishing)

Under the Mistletoe: A Christian Christmas Anthology by Jenna Brandt, Lorana Hoopes, Carol E. Keen, Elle E. Kay, Mary C. Findley, Judith Robl, Evangeline Kelly, C.J. Samuels — Christmas is the time when families get together and love abounds. Eight inspirational authors have teamed up to bring you 8 wonderful Christmas novellas sure to bring you joy this season. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Making Spirits Bright by Cathe Swanson, Chautona Havig, Toni Shiloh, April Hayman — Christmas is a season for new beginnings and second chances. A time for hope and joy and laughter. A time for people of all ages to find love and come together in community. Making Spirits Bright is a collection of just such stories – four never-before-published inspirational Christmas novellas. From romance to cozy mystery, with a generous dash of humor, these contemporary stories are sure to warm your heart as well as brighten your season and lift your Christmas spirit. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Historical Romance:

The Calico and Cowboys Romance Collection by Mary Connealy — The Old West comes to life under the talented pen of bestselling author Mary Connealy. Enjoy a lighthearted ride alongside seven historical and one contemporary cowboys and the women who tame their hearts. (Historical/Contemporary Romance Novella from Barbour Publishing)

Would-Be Mistletoe Wife by Christine Johnson — Worried she might lose her teaching job if funding is cut for her boarding school, widow Louise Smythe must consider marriage. But the only prospective groom in town is lighthouse-keeper Jesse Hammond, and he wants children–something she may never be able to provide. While Jesse waits for the ideal woman to make his wife, though, Louise can’t help but long for something more than his friendship. If he wants to be promoted to head lighthouse keeper, Jesse needs to find a wife suited to his rustic lifestyle. But as he and Louise partner to give the town’s homeless orphans a joyous holiday, he’s drawn to the petite woman. Will the light of Christmas finally inspire them to trust in each other’s hearts? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Circle of Blessings by Deborah Raney — A young college student is determined to win the love of her English professor at the university in the Dakota Territory where she is studying to be an architect. (Historical Romance from Raney Day Press)


Return to Bella Terra by MaryAnn Diorio — When she receives word that her mother is terminally ill, Maria Landro Tonetta travels to her Sicilian homeland with her son Nico. She finds herself yearning for the life she once knew as a child on Bella Terra, the family farm, now on the verge of bankruptcy. Caught between two worlds, Maria dreams of moving back to Sicily with her husband and children to save the farm. When, however, Nico’s biological father unexpectedly appears at Mama’s funeral, Maria faces a new enemy to her dream.
But is there an even greater enemy within her own soul? (Historical, Independently Published)

Brides of Minnesota by Lena Nelson Dooley — Follow a Swedish family’s journey as they settle in Minnesota where each brother seeks a living—and wife. (Historical from Barbour Publishing)


Guilt by Association by Heather Day Gilbert — When the dead body of an overdosed teen turns up next to Tess Spencer’s mom’s trailer, it’ll take a miracle to keep Tess from becoming a casualty in her own personal war on drugs. (Mystery, ACFW Qualified Independently Published)

Romantic Suspense:

Imperfect Justice by Cara Putman — The police say the woman was a murderer. Emilie Wesley knows they can’t be talking about her client . . . can they? (Romantic Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Holiday Secrets by Susan Sleeman — When his ex is thrust into the crosshairs of a deadly syndicate, FBI agent Gavin McKade will do whatever it takes to protect her. Even work the case with his stubborn sheriff dad. As if protecting Lexie from professional killers isn’t difficult enough, the unlikely reunion has rekindled their complicated romantic connection. But if Gavin can’t untangle Lexie from this dangerous web, the blurring line between duty and love may not matter…because this Christmas could be their last. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


The Redemption of Jedidiah Pinkney by J.R. Pitts — A crippled and bullied young boy finds redemption and healing after an encounter with Jesus. (Speculative from Ambassador International)

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51Y8gZvg0mL._SY346_This first book in the Serena Jones Mystery series begins with the words: “I should have listened to my mother.” The story ends with the same words, but don’t jump ahead.

Serena Jones, twenty-eight and single, has joined the FBI as an art crime detective. She loves the work, although it often puts her in danger. One of her quirks is that she’s terrified of elevators, which can be dicey when she’s escaping down multiple flights of stairs in high heels.

Serena has a curious relationship with her boss, Tanner Calhoun, who is about ten years her senior. She tries to follow his directives, but often her own ideas take precedence, resulting in frustration between them, coupled with a certain level of mutual attraction.

Nate Butler, the superintendent of Serena’s apartment building, is more her age and also very good looking. He can be depended upon to rescue her in times of trouble.

A Fool & His Monet carries a creative plot with a good supply of red herrings and possible suspects. The story it a fast-paced whodunit with many twists and turns and double-backs.

Author Sandra Orchard has produced a tightly written, clean and professional book that is superbly researched. It sparks with tension, a strong plotline, an intriguing romantic triangle, realistic characters, credible settings and good action.

The mood is light, fed by wacky humor that will be sure to tickle the reader. On page 13, Serena refers to the bullet-riddled desk as “newly aerated.” She tends to compare people to movie stars. She admits that no matter how quirky her family is, she craves their approval. And she lives among nosy neighbors.

The first chapter of Orchard’s next book appears at the end of this one, which is enticing because although the necessary storylines have been tied up for the first book, there are still some threads left to be resolved over the course of the series.

A Fool & His Monet has been endorsed by a list of excellent authors such as Susan May Warren, Lorena McCourtney, Patricia Bradley and Christy Barritt. It’s published by Revell, categorized as mystery fiction, Christian fiction, detective fiction.

I encourage you to come along for the ride. It’s a blast.

press-kit-headshotSandra Orchard is a multi-award-winning author of mysteries and romantic suspense  She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America and The Word Guild (Canada). A mother of three grown children, she lives in Niagara, Canada with her real-life-hero husband and writes full time…when not doting on her young grandchildren.  Learn more about Sandra’s books and bonus features at www.SandraOrchard.comor connect at www.Facebook.com/SandraOrchard

Sandra is represented by Steve Laube of the Steve Laube Agency.


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Practice by Practice

See my interview with Kathleen Gibson on my blog for November 11.

Practice by Practice is one of the best inspirational books I’ve read in a very long time. The subtitle is “the art of everyday faith,” and it lives up to that designation. Readings are titled appropriately (here are a few examples):

“Keep Your Life Debts Short”

“Shine On, No Matter the Weather”

“Stake Your Reputation on Love”

“Help Someone Find Their Song”

“Practice Hospitality (Avoid Homicide)”

Here’s a quote from that last one: “Practicing hospitality is tiring. It punches holes in one’s privacy. It messes with one’s schedule…But ignoring hospitality’s responsibilities robs us of hospitality’s rewards” page 49.

Besides the beauty of the book itself—a hardcover attractively bound and covered in Canada by Word Alive Press—Practice by Practice is a treasury of observation and encouragement, a gift to the reader. I rationed the readings to stretch the experience over a longer period of time. This is truly a gem of a book, a collection of snapshots of life that focus on faith.

Each of author Kathleen Gibson’s wise and often witty anecdotes touched my heart. Some made me laugh out loud, others made me stop and think about what I believe and how I live, others made me weep with realization or compassion or fresh commitment. See what you think:

“…make a practice of never criticizing a mourner—at least, not till you’ve cried with him beside an open coffin” page 31.

“…the image of God never goes into hiding, even in people who have little time for him” page 43.

Gibson’s giftedness as a writer is obvious in quotes such as the following:

“Prairie farm fields in winter shades were spread tidily below like a grandmother’s guest room coverlet, waiting to be turned back by the warm hand of visiting spring” page 57.

“…the sun had finished its evening painting and slipped between the covers of horizon and cloud” page 102.

Her wit is apparent in many quotes, but here’s my favourite example:

“I am a numeric paranoiac: I hate numbers in any form—avoid them like dieters avoid all foods creamy, sweet, or slippery” page 143.

I love the way Gibson describes herself as a “rich little poor girl” (page 164), in the section titled “Cultivate the Truest Riches.”

The author’s unique perspective on life shows through:

“…above the clammy, heaving cloud waits blue and gold, so blue and gold that the looking is difficult. And that should not be surprising, because therein can be found the face of God” page 58.

“…that even if I never publish another article, I’m no less important in the grand scheme of life than the latest multiple bestselling author…because within us resides the image of a God who loves us, not matter who rejects us” page 93.

“Coincidence? There is no such word in God’s dictionary. Only perfect, divine timing” page 151.

I recommend this little book to anyone who longs to draw closer to Christ in everyday faith. And remember, in Kathleen’s words, “No amount of practicing can initiate salvation … protection … love. Those things come to us not because we deserve them but because God is in the business of flagrant outrageous grace” page 168.

Check out Kathleen’s website at http://kathleengibson.ca

Kathleen Gibson

Kathleen Gibson

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Ruth L. Snyder

Ruth L. Snyder

Janice: Hi Ruth. Thanks for agreeing to do this interview with me. I look forward to getting to know you better.

RUTH: Thanks for the opportunity to chat with you and your readers. I appreciate the invitation.

Janice: From my knowledge of you, you’re a very busy woman. Tell us some of the things / people that make up your daily life.

RUTH: My relationship with God is my top priority. Kendall is my “Mr. Fixit” husband (he’s a mechanic) and God has blessed us with five children, Grace (17), Luke (14), Levi (14), Jayson (12) and Dorothy (6). Besides being a wife and mother, I enjoy writing, teaching private piano lessons and Music for Young Children, volunteering in our community (right now we’re working on upgrading playground equipment in the village of Glendon), playing the piano and leading the choir at church, and providing leadership to InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship, a writing organization for Canadian Christian writers.

Janice: How do you balance your personal life with your professional responsibilities?

RUTH: This is a constant work in action for me. I try to make decisions based on my priorities – God first, family second, and then other opportunities and obligations.

Janice: With all the busyness in your life, why do you write, not to mention how?

RUTH: I write because it’s enjoyable, challenging, and I’m not content if I don’t write. Sometimes I almost feel driven to express myself through writing. As a Christian, I believe God gifts His children with responsibilities and abilities. Writing is one of my abilities that I try to use to bring honor to God. I also see writing as a ministry. You never know who will read your writing or what affect it will have.

Janice: Is that your writing goal?

RUTH: My goal in writing is to write in obedience to God’s promptings, clearly communicating a story or idea to my readers. If my readers experience emotions or are moved to change something in their lives because of what I wrote, then I will consider myself a successful writer.

Janice: Do you write well in busy surroundings or do you prefer quiet? Do you write with music in the background? A specific place?

RUTH: I prefer to write in a quiet surrounding, but I’m learning to write whenever I get the opportunity, e.g. while my children are watching a movie or exploring books at the library. Sometimes I’ll put on classical music or other music without words while I write. Although I do have a desk and computer where I do some of my writing, I prefer to write on my iPad, because it’s portable and it doesn’t have as many distractions as my computer.

Janice: I’m with you in the “music without words” thing. Tell us about how you write—your process.

RUTH: When I’m brainstorming, I’ll often use pen and paper. For instance, when I’m working on a story I’ll jot down an overview of the plot, and then come up with what happens in each chapter of the story (in point form only).

Once I start the actual writing, I prefer to use the computer or my iPad. (For non-fiction writing like blog posts or articles, I use my computer, but for my fiction projects I’ve found my iPad a better choice.)

During the school year, I usually get up at 5:00 or so to spend some quiet time thinking, reading my Bible and praying. By 6:00 I’m writing so that I get 30 minutes of writing in before breakfast. Usually I can write 500 words in this time frame, which isn’t a lot, but over time it adds up. Many of my blog posts are written in that 30-minute slot before the rest of the family gets up. My other writing is generally done during the day between throwing in loads of laundry, cleaning, etc.

I’ve just started experimenting with Scrivener, which is a wonderful program. My only frustration is that there’s not an iPad app for the program yet. (I’ve heard they’re working on it, though!)

Janice: I love Scrivener. I’m glad you’re enjoying it too. What genres do you write and why?

RUTH: I enjoy a variety of genres. Devotionals are one of my favourite genres because I get to share what I’m learning in my personal walk with God. Articles are enjoyable, especially when I get to share how to do something. I’ve been told I’m a teacher through and through, Lol. For fiction, I enjoy writing historical fiction because I think we can learn a lot from what has happened in the past. I’ve also written contemporary fiction in the romance genre. I think most people (especially women) enjoy a good love story.

Janice: How do you approach research? What’s your favorite source?

RUTH: I’ll usually do some preliminary research when I put my outline or plot together. Sometimes I’ll go to my local library and read through magazine articles or books. However, most of the time Google is my best friend when I’m researching. I’ll often research as I’m writing so that the setting or facts are accurate.

Janice: What do you like most about writing? What’s the most difficult aspect?

RUTH: I enjoy the challenge of using specific words to convey the ideas in my mind. Often I’ll ask myself what the character is experiencing with his five senses – what does he see, smell, taste, touch, hear? Also, what are the physical reactions he has to show his emotions?

For me, the most difficult part is getting that first draft down. Editing is something else I enjoy. It’s not too bad once I have something to work with, to shape and hone and embellish.

Janice: Well said. I’m in the same camp. Do you always write with a specific audience in mind? What’s your favorite audience?

RUTH: I try to write with an audience in mind so that I can use language, descriptions, and topics that are interesting to my audience. One of my favorite audiences is women from 30-50.

Janice: What are some of your social media connections and which do you consider the most efficient/effective?

RUTH: My favourite social media sites are Facebook and Twitter. I appreciate the opportunities to share and interact on Facebook. Twitter provides a great way to meet people with interests common to mine, to gather current information, and to share my own news. Both sites are great places to share my latest favourite photos or quotes.

Janice: What do you like to read? What are you currently reading? Digital or print?

RUTH: I read both fiction and non-fiction. Often I’ll read fiction when I want to escape or relax while non-fiction is to keep myself informed to help me learn something new. Most of my fiction is read digitally on my Kindle app on my iPad. Non-fiction I prefer to read in paperback or hardcover so that I can make notes, circle ideas, highlight, and even turn over the corners of pages I want to come back to at a later date.


  • Total Recovery: Solving the Mystery of Chronic Pain and Depression by Dr. Gary Kaplan, D.O.
  • Holy is the Day: Living in the Gift of the Present by Carolyn Weber
  • 40 Day Devotional Challenge by Kathi Macias
  • Am I Messing Up My Kids and Other Questions Every Mom Asks by Lysa TerKeurst
  • Launch by Jeff Walker


  • Neighbors Series by Tracy Krauss
  • Sun’s Parting Ray by Mishael Austin Witty
  • In Time of Trouble by N.J. Lindquist

Janice: Do you edit your own manuscripts or do you have input from others?

RUTH: I always go back and edit my own manuscripts several times. However, I also ask for feedback from other writers and I’m working with a professional editor for my full-length novel.

Janice: What advice would you give to beginning writers?

RUTH: Make time to write every day if possible. Learn as much as you can and allow yourself to try new things. Seek God’s guidance in all you do, do what He tells you to do, and trust the results to Him.

Janice: Thanks for joining me today, Ruth. God bless you in your writing career as well as in your personal pursuits.

RUTH: You’re welcome, Janice. I appreciate your support and encouragement.

Ruth L. Snyder was privileged to spend the first 10 years of her life in southern Africa where her parents served as missionaries. From there her family moved to Canada, settling in Three Hills, Alberta. Ruth enjoyed her years as a “staff kid” at Prairie and is grateful for the biblical grounding she received there. She now resides close to Glendon (the pyrogy capital of Alberta, Canada) with her husband and five young children. Ruth enjoys writing articles, devotionals, short stories, and Christian fiction. She is a member of The Word Guild and The Christian PEN. Ruth currently serves as the President of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship.

Ruth’s children have taught her many things about living with special needs. She is a strong advocate and spent several years serving on the local public school board.

Ruth loves her job teaching Music for Young Children. She is fascinated by children’s imaginations and enjoys helping young children learn the basics of music through play.

In her spare time, Ruth enjoys reading, crafts, volunteering in her local community, photography, and travel. Several years ago, Ruth and her family traveled through 28 States in 30 days! Find out more about Ruth and her writing at http://ruthlsnyder.wordpress.com


Website: http://ruthlsnyder.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRuthL.Snyder

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wwjdr

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RuthSnyderAuthor/posts

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/ruthlsnyder/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7578211.Ruth_L_Snyder

Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=109478227

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Caroline Way

Caroline Way

Janice: Welcome to my blog, Caroline. I look forward to our visit today.

CAROLINE: I do too, and thank you for having me.

Janice: Have you always wanted to be a writer? When did your writing interest begin?

CAROLINE: I don’t know that I always wanted to be a writer. I have always loved to write. In high school, I would always pick the creative option out of the essay questions, rather than pick one of the “analyze the imagery in….” type of questions. In university I wrote a lot of letters – no email then (gasp!) – and once took a page from Chaucer and wrote a Canterbury Tales type of letter about the new friends I was making. I wrote a lot of plays for summer camp, and in graduate school, moved on to screenplays. It was then that I really determined writing was something I wanted to pursue in a serious way.

Janice: Who are some of the people who most influenced your decision to write?

CAROLINE: While there are certainly people who have influenced my decision to keep writing, I think the decision to start writing was born more out of different events or interactions with certain individuals.

There was a youth group leader to whom I sent the Chaucer influenced letter. When I was home on break one time, she said, “You write very good letters. You could be a writer.” I kept her words inside. Every now and then they would creep to the front of my thoughts, but I would dismiss them. Her words stayed with me. I think it served as the validation for giving in to the compulsion to write the letter in the first place. Then there was the high school teacher whose praise, after I created my own modern myth instead of the answering the other essay questions on Robertson Davies’ Fifth Business. Again a moment of validation. There were others, but really, it was while I was pursuing my Master of Arts degree in Film, that the bug took hold.

In our Principles of Christian Communication class, we were assigned the task of communicating a common Christian principle in the creative manner of our choosing. There were so many creative people selecting all manner of mediums but, I wrote. Once the idea came to me, the need to get the story down was consuming. That, combined with the resulting response, is what really pushed me in terms of making a decision to write seriously.

In terms of people who influence me to keep writing, my very good friend, Cheryl McKay would be among the top contenders. She’s a wonderful screenwriter and is now venturing into novel writing. Her honest feedback and encouragement has been invaluable. As well, I consider myself lucky to have friends who are honest in their feedback, freely expressing what they like, or what they don’t like, and taking a sort of ownership over the story in such a way as to almost be as invested in it as I am. It’s been amazing.

And of course there’s you, Jan. Your friendship and mentoring has meant so much, I don’t know if I can express it adequately. You helped keep me motivated to finish and to remain true to the characters as I went.

Janice: Well, thanks, Caroline. Your novel, Confessions from a Farmer’s Wife, released in November of 2011 with Greenbrier Book Company. How long did it take you to bring it from concept to completion?Confessions:Farmer's Wife

CAROLINE: It took a very long time. I started it just as I was finishing my MA in 1996, and didn’t finish it until 2010. I didn’t take it seriously for the first little while and let life distract me.

Janice: Tell us a bit about the book and why you wrote it.

CAROLINE: I think the story found me. The book originally started out as visual image for the beginning of a short film idea, but the more I wrote, the more I realized it was bigger than I had thought. The visual is still the beginning – two kids sitting on the bank of a creek, meeting for the first time. But even before that moment when the image came into my head, the idea behind the book came about from a remark my mother made. She had written and directed a play based on the book of Job. I don’t remember what our conversation was about when she commented that all we really know about Job’s wife is that she tells Job to curse God and die, but her comment really made me think. It struck me that she, Job’s wife, lost everything too. It would make sense that she would have a lot to feel about the matter. I started to explore the idea of what it would take for a wife to tell her husband, whom she knows values his relationship with God above everything else, to turn his back on his God and die. What did she mean by it? What was her faith like compared to that of her husband? These are the ideas I wanted to explore.

Of course, being a parallel of the Book of Job, there are certain themes that run through the book, the idea of believers suffering and who is responsible for it. What do we do when we suffer? How do we keep faith when it happens? How do we deal with God? Heavy thoughts for a novel, and I don’t try to answer these questions, because I certainly don’t have all the answers. I think that’s the main theme – What do we do when we don’t get any answers, and not just ones we don’t like?

The book is very character driven. The entire book you’re in the head of Jessie, the main character as she recounts the events in her life from the time she is six years old through young adulthood. You see the other characters through her eyes and learn what they mean to her, how she feels about them, and what impact they have on the choices she makes.

Janice: Sounds amazing, and since I’ve read it, I can attest to that fact. Are you currently working on a sequel or another novel?

CAROLINE: I am currently working a second novel with the same characters. It’s a bit of a sequel as it picks up from where the first book finished, but it’s also a prequel in that it takes us back further in time and into the lives of other characters – a different POV. I also have an idea for a sort of mystery thriller that I’m toying with. Very different from Confessions.

Janice: Cool In what genre would you classify Confessions?

CAROLINE: I would classify it as contemporary. It’s a little historical in terms of setting, but the historical events are not what drive the plot.

Janice: What is the most difficult part of the writing process for you? And your favorite part?

CAROLINE: The most difficult part of the writing process is having to pull myself out of the world I’m creating. When I’m there, I just want to stay there. When the phone rings or other things demand my attention, I get a little crabby. I resent everything that keeps me from getting back there. And yet it’s probably a good thing to touch base with reality more often than not! That’s also my favorite part. If I want readers to want to spend time with my characters, I have to want to as well. I love the feeling of sinking into the process, loosing all track of time and awareness of anything but the emotions of the character and the click of keys on the keyboard. I can feel my heart rate increase as I being. It’s a very heady feeling.

Janice: What did you learn while writing Confessions?

CAROLINE: This is tough. It was such a personal journey. While I’ve never suffered through the events that my characters have to go through, I struggled and still struggle with many of the questions that they do. I think I had to come to terms with the understanding that there are things that happen and that God, in all His wholeness as loving, just, jealous, forgiving, sovereign, and many more attributes, is God. There are many things I will never understand, but my faith is not misplaced.

Janice: Are you a planner or a pantser? Do you use any computer programs to aid your writing process?

CAROLINE: I think I’m a mix. I know where the story will end. I have to have this first. Then I can know where I want it to begin. I will have several key events that will have to happen to get me from beginning to end, but how we get to there will be anyone’s guess! I do make what I call a “shot list” – I think in film terms even when it’s a novel. This is a list of key points that need to happen either in a particular scene or to link two events. Sometimes I make the list because I know what I need to happen in advance of sitting down to write. And sometimes the list grows organically out of what is happening emotionally with the characters as I write. I’m usually thinking, “What has to happen plotwise to get my character to this point, and what is plausible in terms of story/setting etc?” But I’m also thinking about surprising the reader. I’m not always sure how successful I am, but it’s something for which I strive.

Janice: How do you promote your book? How much is your responsibility and what do you expect from your publisher?

CAROLINE: I’m an awful promoter. I don’t really do it. I have some postcards printed up with the book cover on one side and where to order it on the other, but it’s something that I’ve struggled with for a variety of reasons. My publisher doesn’t really promote, except from their website in terms of, “These are our writers, and here are there books.”

Janice: We hear so much about social media these days. Are you into that and if so, how do you use it to promote your book?

CAROLINE: I have a personal Facebook page, I’m on twitter although I can’t tell you the last time I tweeted. I had a cell phone die and haven’t downloaded the twitter app to the current phone. I also have a personal website, but again, I don’t update except maybe once every year or two. I’m pathetic because I recognize that it would be extremely beneficial to utilize the whole social media venue to promote my book, but I just hate the thought of how much time it takes. Plus, I’m not much for selling myself. I find it very difficult, as do many other writers, I’m sure. My profile picture on Facebook is my book cover, if that counts?

Janice: I think many writers understand the difficulty of promotion. How do you research and how can you be sure of your sources?

CAROLINE: I research a bit at a time. I don’t enjoy it all that much. Beyond finding what I need to be certain that where the story is going is plausible, I find it laborious. I use the Internet and the library, and I try to confirm the information with more than once source so that I can be fairly comfortable that it’s accurate. I’m not sure I always get it, but I try very hard.

Janice: Is writing your career or do you have a day job? How much time do you set aside for writing?

CAROLINE: I would love for writing to be my career, but no, I have a day job. I work as an Administrative/Executive assistant. I have a problem setting aside time to write. I commute over an hour to work each way, and when I get home I have to feed the dog, feed myself, exercise the dog…and so on. So weekday evenings are not good. I try to do some at lunch sometimes, but by the time I get in the groove, my lunch is over. I would love to keep all weekends to myself for writing but there are friends and family that I enjoy spending time with, so this is why it took me a long time to complete the first book!

Janice: I empathize! Although not all readers are writers, I know that all writers must be readers. What are you currently reading? What’s on your to-read pile? Do you read mostly print books or digital? Why?

CAROLINE: Currently, I’m not reading, which is probably why I’m not being too creative. I like a good romance when I’m on vacation, or a good mystery. I like Francine Rivers, Charles Martin and stuff like that. I don’t generally do non-fiction – I’m convinced I have a block where that’s concerned, but if the story interests me, I’ll read it. I just need strong characters that I care about. I read a mix of print and digital. I love the feel of a book in my hand, and how the accomplishment of the number of pages read turns into the disappointment of how few pages are left and wanting it to last a little longer. But I do love my e-reader for sheer convenience. Currently, I have your latest book ready to read on my Kindle, and I’m waiting for my friend Cheryl’s latest novel to be released, Song of Springhill. It’s about one of mining disasters in Springhill, Nova Scotia in the 1950s.

Janice: Enjoy the books. For reader interest, what are some of your non-work/non-writing involvements and hobbies?

CAROLINE: I love going to movies, even bad ones, although I try to avoid them I can. I also love photography. I have a couple of friends with whom I go shooting regularly. One day we’ll focus on black and white, another we play with long exposure. I’m very much a novice, but I love it.

Janice: Do you have any tips for newbie or wannabe writers?

CAROLINE: Believe in your story, but not to the extent that you turn a deaf ear to constructive criticism. It’s not personal if someone doesn’t like your writing, even if it feels that way. Not everyone will like it. Be objective about criticism, encouraged by enthusiasm, and grateful for both as it means you’ve written something and someone is reading it.

Janice: Thanks so much, Caroline, for taking time to tell us a bit about yourself and your writing. All the best in your writing future.

CAROLINE: Thanks, Jan. All the best to you as well!

Caroline Way was born in Portland, Oregon, raised in St. John’s, Newfoundland until high school, when her family moved to Ontario. Currently she lives in Hamilton, Ontario, where she received her B.A. in Drama from McMaster University. From there she went on to obtain an M.A. in Communication from Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA, where she studied film making and screenwriting. Once an active member of community theatre in both Ontario and Virginia, Caroline has always enjoyed exploring the “how” and “why” questions of the characters she portrayed, directed and created.

Caroline has worked on many types of productions, from television commercials to feature films, in a variety of capacities. She has written and directed two of her own short films as well as a documentary for the town of Pickering, Ontario, and instructional video for the Ontario Principals’ Council. Currently, Caroline works as an Executive Assistant.


Caroline’s “Blahg” is at http://www.carolineway.com 


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Marcia Lee Laycock

Marcia Lee Laycock

Marcia Lee Laycock, interviewed in last week’s blogpost, writes in various genres.

For many years Marcia wrote a column called “The Spur” for local newspapers. 41kNxY+SJCL._AA160_Her articles look at daily events in her not-so-ordinary life, meditations that draw the reader to God. She later compiled these inspirational articles into a book titled Spur of the Moment. This volume won an Award of Merit in the God Uses Ink Christian writing conference in 2003.

In 2006, Marcia won the Best New Canadian Author Award from Write! Canada’s Canadian Christian Writing Awards with her first novel, One Smooth Stone, subsequently published by Castle Quay Books.

One Smooth StoneThis novel follows Alex Donnelly, a young man trying to disappear into the vastness of the Yukon after a life of abandonment and abuse. When an unexpected inheritance draws him back to civilization, Alex discovers more about his past than he bargained for. Yet, through all his painful experiences, Christian people show him love and understanding and the father-heart of God.

Laycock tells this story with literary skill and a caring heart. The characters become real on the page, the plot twists to engage the reader, and the writing flows smoothly and swiftly to a satisfying ending.

A Tumbled StoneLaycock has also written a sequel, A Tumbled Stone, the story of Andrea Calvert, a young woman in trouble, who takes circumstances into her own hands and runs away to protect her family from shame. Little does she know that God is waiting for her at every turn, and cares for her through Evie, an unlikely angel who understands more than Andrea guesses. There are many forces at work in Andrea’s life, and as she is buffeted on every side by decisions and unexpected situations, the Lord surrounds her with love and protection.

Again, the author has created a believable world of good and evil, of forgiveness and fear. The characters move through the intricate plot to arrive at surprising conclusions. Well worth the read.

Besides fiction, Marcia Lee Laycock writes blogs, book reviews, short stories and poetry. Her work has appeared in the compilations Hot Apple Cider, A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider and InScribed.

Marcia is also a popular speaker. For more information on Marcia and her writing, check out her website at: http://marcialeelaycock.com.

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