Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Complaining about wrapping too many gifts. Not cool. Not cool at all.

I wrote this two weeks ago. Merry Christmas folks.

I’m sitting here thinking how this will be my last day ‘off’ without all four kids in the house for the next three weeks. Here I am, getting more and more frustrated because this is the last day I will have the freedom to openly wrap Christmas gifts without my kids around. I would much rather do it out on the kitchen table then hiding in my bedroom, trying to wrap, on the carpeted floor late at night after they’re asleep.

I don’t want to spend the whole day wrapping, I want to write! My LAST DAY OF FREEDOM FOR THREE WHOLE WEEKS!!

So here I am, pouting because I’ll have to spend my day wrapping instead of writing when it hits me.

I have a ton of gifts to wrap.

And I mean a ton, and we are able to afford that stuff this year. I will still be ordering a few more after I look through them to make sure all my kids have a somewhat ‘equal’ number of gifts. And I can do this without batting an eye this year. What a humongous blessing!

With each passing year, God has given us a little more. With each new baby that came into our lives, God upped our income a little bit more to meet that need. He never failed. Four babies later, he has done some marvelous things with our income since my husband got this last job. We’re comfortable and content. We’re not scared anymore. We’re not freaking out because of the holidays. There is no massive lump in my gut threatening to steal the joy of Christmas this year. There is PEACE.

Yet, looking back, there’s always been a peace. Sometimes it was harder to find than others, but it always showed up at our doorstep. Literally, at our doorstep. Diapers, clothes, money. No joke. God always took care of us. And when we had faith he WOULD, He always DID. Even when our faith faltered and stuttered, He was faithful to provide. My husband and I are constantly shaking our heads, saying, what did we do to deserve this? How can God be so merciful and good to such rotten sinners such as us? When I look back on where we’ve been and where we are, all I can say is WOW, what a difference.

Our first few Christmases with our one little guy were pretty easy. We didn’t have much to give and he was too young to know any better.

I would hide and save all the toys that would come in a kids Happy Meal and save them to give him for Christmas. (I don’t think he even realized Happy Meals came with toys until he was five!) These were meals I couldn’t even afford. Anytime we went out it was usually my parents paying or someone else paying. We didn’t have the money. So, all these little ‘throw-away’ toys would be saved for Christmas.

I remember one particularly hard year when we had nothing for him and my husband had gotten a free hat and mug from work. Well, that would have to do. It sucked, but it was all we had. He also brought home this muddy, filthy rag and showed it to me.

“What in the world is that?”

He stretched it out. A boy’s hoodie caked in mud. It looked like it might be a tad too big for him. He found it on the side of the road. I was repulsed. I wasn’t about to give my son that thing. But my husband asked me to wash it and see what happened. I washed it, and sure enough, under all that mud there were dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were his favorite thing. It was perfect.

I may have washed it a couple more times to get it as clean as possible. Then it got wrapped and put under the tree. Our son never once complained about not having lots of amazing gifts. He never once said, “Mommy, Daddy, this isn’t enough. You didn’t buy enough toys this year.” He just smiled and said thanks. And guess what? That hoodie sweatshirt became his favorite piece of clothing. He wore it as much as he could for the next few years. When he finally couldn’t fit into it any longer we gave it to his younger brother.

Even if all these silly gifts I have to wrap, were not here, my kids could still have joy in knowing there is love in our family. The Christmas spirit would prevail. And material possessions mean nothing when you have the peace and love our Lord Jesus provides. Sometimes I even miss those hard years. When I HAD to cling to the Lord. When I fell at his feet continually and His presence and comfort were so real and near. It was such a beautiful gift…his closeness, his abundant love wrapping me up when I was at my lowest, crying out to Him. He answered me in His sweet and gentle way. Through love from others, through joy, peace, and laughter. Through strength.

I would not be the person today that I am, stronger than I’ve ever been, more firm in my faith and my convictions if I hadn’t been through the fire, only to come out the other side refined. God sure has more refining he needs to put me though, but for now, I’m glad for the respite. As tough as those times were, God never failed me. Even when it felt like he was gone, he never left me. He watched over my family and loved us through it, each and every step of the way.

I’m thankful for a loving God and Savior, full of mercy and grace who came to this earth as a babe, so that someday, he would offer himself up to be hung on a cross, to take away the sins of the world through his overwhelming sacrifice of love. I’m thankful for a God who loves us when times are good and when times are hard.

I know a lot of folks who are going to have a hard Christmas this year. Let’s pray for them, give them our ‘extras.’ Give them more than our extras. Sacrifice. Give and love.  And thank JESUS even in the hard times. Merry Christmas everyone.


And to wish you a Merry Christmas and as a gift to you, our readers, I have compiled a fun playlist for your listening pleasure. Just click on the link below. The last one is the best…just wait for it.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Our very own WINNER!!

A huge congrats to our very own Jebraun Clifford on her recent WIN of the 2015 First Impressions Contest for ACFW. She won for the Young Adult category.
We are so excited for you and proud of you, Jeb! We wish you all the best in your writing endeavors to come.

Click on the link below to check out the winners!

ACFW - The Voice of Christian Fiction

Monday, December 14, 2015

Heather Frey Blanton author of Hang your heart on Christmas visits Quills and Inkblotts

Welcome all!
Today I’m very fortunate to be interviewing Heather Frey Blanton.  
She’s the author of A lady in Defiance, Hearts in Defiance, In time for Christmas and Grace be a lady. *All of her titles are available at Amazon.*
Heather writes wonderful Christian Western Romances about strong pioneer women and men. If you love historical romances as much as I do, you will love her stories.
Recently, she released Hang your heart on Christmas.

Hi Heather, welcome to Quills and Inkblotts. We are delighted to have you at our little corner on the web.

Please tell us a little about you?  I live on a farm outside of Raleigh, NC with my three boys, 12, 15, and 54 (come on, you know what I’m talking about with that last one). We ride and shoot together just like every family oughta. If you like Duck Dynasty, you’d like us. We’re down home.
I am a freak about history; can’t get enough of it. I have a journalism background and love to research. I’ve walked parts of the Oregon Trail, climbed to the top of Independence Rock, and held an outlaw’s note in my hand. Now that’s living!

Favorite scripture and why?  God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 When my first book was rejected by a major Christian publisher – well, let’s just say I’m sure I’ve been punched in the gut harder but can’t remember when. It could have taken the wind out of my sails, but I knew God had a plan. I hung on to that thought and that scripture.

When did you decide to become a writer?  Oddly, I’m not sure it was ever a conscious decision. I am the youngest of six kids and my siblings were always busy, so I occupied myself with writing and drawing. I often wrote stories so I could keep a TV showing going (in my head) that I didn’t want to end. Just because the credits were rolling didn’t mean I had to say goodnight to the Hardy Boys. I had the biggest crush on Parker Stevenson!

What is the hardest thing about writing?  Getting to know my characters deeply and intimately. But once I’m there, writing their stories flows like water!

What is the easiest thing about writing?  Choosing my setting. For some reason, bam! I just always know it. Sometimes the decade can give me problems, but the geographic locations call to me for each story!

Are you a plotter or a panster?  I started out as a pantser. I built my first novel entirely around one scene and then just let the story unfold. That’s not a bad way to write, but I wind up cutting a lot of scenes. While they may help me get to know my characters, ultimately, if a scene doesn’t move a story forward, out it goes. With my last two books, however, I’ve done a lot of outlining and writing in my head. What I mean is, I do a lot of writing in my head (which is pantsing, basically), but then I transfer that “day dreaming” to beats, which help create the outline. Gee, I think that actually makes me a plotster.

You're a traditionally published author as well as an Indie author.  What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing?  In February of 2012, I asked my agent if I could self-publish A Lady in Defiance; I wanted to sell two hundred copies for my Relay for Life team. By May, I had sold nearly three thousand copies! Well, ironically, at the same time, my book had made it all the way to the fabled “contract meeting” at a MAJOR Christian publisher. They passed on me because the sales team said my sales projections were too low. Imagine the publisher’s surprise when A Lady went on to sell eight thousand copies that year! I saved my money, quit my job, and started writing full-time a year later. To date, A Lady in Defiance has sold over thirty thousand copies, gathered 406 reviews, and earned 4.7 star`s on Amazon!

Since 2012, I’ve released three novels, two novellas, and been published in three collections. It takes a single traditionally published book sixteen months on average to see its release date.

If I had gone the traditional route with my first book, my advance would have only been around $7-10,000. So I would have had to keep my job and write in my spare time, while trying to market the book, raise a family, clean the house, and be a good wife. All while making less money per book. I didn’t care for that scenario so I released my agent and self-published Hearts in Defiance in September of 2014.

Praise the Lord, things have worked out for me.

But there is a very definite downside of being an indy author. Namely, you do everything yourself. You write the stories, hire editors and cover designers, plan the marketing, audition narrators for your audio books, develop the marketing plan, etc. Indy authors don’t generally command big bucks for their books, either. Most of us sell our stories for .99 to $2.99. Lastly, it is nearly impossible to get book stores to carry an indy author’s books, for a myriad of reasons.

The cover of Hang your heart on Christmas is gorgeous. Who designed your book cover Roseanna White is not only a fabulous designer, she is an author for Bethany House. I think her skills on both fronts are exceptional.

You’ve crafted some fine, well developed male hero’s in your stories. Dent Hernandez and Charles McIntyre are definitely my favorites. Do you have a favorite? (I promise I won’t tell Dent if it’s not him.)  Oh, I adore Charles McIntyre. He is a man who is trying to leave behind a dark past and walk in the light. He wants to surrender everything to God, but relinquishing control doesn’t come naturally and he struggles to find his way. He’s hard on himself for his failures, yet loves his family unconditionally. He’s so flawed, yet that gives me, as a writer, the chance to show God’s strengths in those vulnerable, human weaknesses. But I love all my leading men for various reasons.

In your latest release, you introduce readers to U.S. Marshal Dent Hernandez and schoolteacher Amy Tatee. What inspired you to pair Dent with Amy? Give us an insight into Amy and Dent? What makes them work as a couple?  Amy brings out Dent’s natural desire to serve and protect. That’s what makes him such a great lawman and lover. But he struggles with changing paths, letting go of his plans. Amy is a strong woman but not one of those annoyingly harpy characters that’s over the top. She accepts her femininity and is willing to cry in his arms. That doesn’t make her weak or fragile. I love that.

What came first to you when you started Hang your heart on Christmas?
Character, plot or setting?  Definitely the plot on this one. I wanted a hero who was keeping a secret and when it was revealed, the heroine was going to have to make a hard choice about their relationship. It’s so funny how characters “come to life.” In the end, BOTH Amy and Dent were grappling with right and wrong, duty and honor, standing or running.

Are you working on something at the moment?  I am currently working on Book 3 in my Defiance series. I expect that A Promise in Defiance will be out in late winter 2016. We’ll see. I also have a script that I wrote for A Lady in Defiance and a Hollywood agent is perusing it as I write this! That’s pretty exciting! I hope one day you’ll see A Lady on the Hallmark Channel!

What’s it about?  In A Promise in Defiance, I bring some things full circle. The town settled down a bit in Book 2, but things are fixing to heat back up. There is a pretty epic battle brewing for the soul of the town, not to mention a couple of my characters. This story will be fairly intense. The stakes for my characters are going to be extremely high. At least I hope so.

Your genre is historical romance, what draws you to this genre?  I am a history freak. Who knows why? But the people, their stories, the simpler lifestyle, the black-and-white morals, it all beckons to me. I am home when I’m writing an inspirational romance set against the back drop of the Rockies a hundred-plus years in the past.

Have you ever considered writing in a different genre?  Funny story there. I wrote a time travel Christmas novella. In Time for Christmas. This is a story that has rattled around in my head since high school, so I finally wrote it a few years back. As a Believer now, though, I was particularly excited to be able to put a Christian spin on it. Specifically, I found a scripture that could explain time travel (2 Kings 20:10). I love this story and overall it has great reviews (4.5 stars and 108 reviews), but I’ve been surprised by how many readers don’t think God can control time. That shocks me.

If Hang your heart on Christmas were to be made a movie, do you have an actor and actress in mind to play Dent and Amy?  Vikkas Bhardwaj is the gentleman on the cover of the book. He is an actor and a model and the nicest fella you’d ever want to meet! I mean truly a baby doll. He would be wonderful in this part! I’d like to see maybe Erin Krakow (When Calls the Heart) as Amy. She would fit perfectly.

One last question, do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?  #1 Pray like crazy for inspiration and God’s anointing on your work. #2 Learn to write by writing, reading craft books, and attending writers conferences. #3 Find great editors and beta readers. #4 Repeat step #1.
Thank you, Heather. It was a pleasure to have you on our blog.

Now we got a surprise for y’all! Comment below for your chance to win a kindle version of her novella Hang your heart on Christmas!  (I loved it!) Winner will be announced here on December 19th.

~ Lucy

Friday, November 27, 2015

Lucy Nel chats with Deanna Fugett : Part 4 of 4 Interviews

1. You're a wife and mommy of four. Please describe a day in the life of Deanna Fugett, the wife, mother and writer. 

Chaos. What more need I say? Actually, I think we have it under control for the most part. We do have four very active and needy kids. So we've had to learn to adjust with each passing year. My husband and I are not super strict, so we let the kids 'do their thing' and encourage independence and a helpful attitude around our house. 

I drop kids off at school in the morning, hubby's long gone by then, and go home. I usually throw in a load of laundry, do a load of dishes and then get to my writing. I hate cleaning, and only do it when I have too. Most of my day can be taken up just with dishes, laundry (I'm in charge of SIX people's laundry. It's never-ending!) and writing and just taking care of my family's needs in general. There's always SOMETHING I should be doing. It's just a matter of doing it. 

2. What inspired you to begin with your current WIP?

Well...I'm not sure exactly. Honestly one day I just sat at the computer and said, "I'm going to write a story today," and it just kind of happened. Two months later I had my first rough draft. 
But I can credit my mom for my love of reading which inspired my love of writing, which also comes from my elementary school teachers, Mrs. Bholson and Mrs. Olson. 

Mrs. Bholson fostered a love of writing in me at a young age (I went to a small school, so I had her 1st through 3rd grade) and then in 6th grade Mrs. Olson challenged us to write a book someday. I already knew I loved writing and had been told I was decent at it, so I made a promise to myself that someday I would write that book. And here I am. 

3. Favorite place and time to write? 

Anywhere, anytime. Seriously, whenever I get a free moment, like when my kids are in school. Which only happens Monday and Wednesday, that all four of them are gone. So those are the two main days I focus on writing, or at least attempt too. 

They all know it's important to me, and there are plenty of times I will be typing away with my kids, while my youngest takes a bath, or when my daughter wants me in her room while she plays dolls. I try to not lock myself away and always be available to them, no matter what. It's not always easy. Sometimes if I'm really inspired, it's frustrating to get that "Mommy!" right in the middle of a big scene. But I have to make my family my number one priority and put my work down. They will always come first. 

4. You write Speculative YA fiction, with some of most interesting character names I've seen. What one message do you wish to portray with your current WIP?

My message is simply this. Even in a dark, wicked world we have to put aside our fears and be brave. 
Actually, I have tons of mini messages weaving throughout the entire series, but those you'll have to discover for yourselves. 

5. Name some of the biggest challenges, victories you've faced in your writing journey?

Challenges, PUBLISHING. Holy moly, I had NO idea what I was getting myself into when I decided to write a book. I had my nice little rose colored glasses on, thinking to myself. "Oh gee, this is going to be great. I'll write a best seller, give it to a publisher, they will love it and my life will be great." 

Oh my, how wrong I was. It's so much more complicated and difficult then I ever thought it would be. But I love it. And I'm not going to give up. Ever. I will make this dream happen.

Victories? Well, I guess my victory is the responses I have gotten from my story Ending Fear, which is the first in The Gliding Lands Series. People seem drawn to it. I'm not sure why, but it seems to hit a chord with a lot of folks so far. 

6. If you could have one quality of your main character, Fear, what would it be? 

Probably her ability to be passionate. She's a teen girl with lots of crazy hormones, she's kind of annoying sometimes, and she doesn't always think straight. But she's passionate about things. I never want to loose passion in my life. 

7. Do you have a favorite scripture?

My mom gave my the verse Matthew 5:9, "Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons and daughters of God," when I was very young. I was a peacemaker growing up. 

I know I've changed a lot since then, and now I like to stir things up a bit. I don't always keep the peace, as it were. Maybe I've become jaded in some aspects. But I'd like to think that I still have the ability and definitely the desire to be a peacemaker. 

You can also add the entire book of Psalms. It's my favorite book of the Bible and any time I am distressed I can always find God's love, promises and beauty within those words.

Thank you Lucy, for the interview, it was a pleasure!  

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Meet Ralene Burke AND a *Giveaway*

Check out this interview of author Ralene Burke! Also, make sure to comment below for your chance to win a kindle copy of her book Bellanok! 

Hi Ralene!
I just finished reading your debut novel Bellanok. It’s a story full of demons, dragons, unicorns and best of all, a faerie queen. Tell us what inspired you to write this creative story.

Honestly, I have no idea. I was in prayer one day--not even about writing if I recall correctly--and the story title just came to me. As I started letting the title roll over my tongue, the premise of the story formed in my mind. Before I knew it, I had written the first chapter. 

The main character in the book is Brian, who is a burnt-out pastor who has lost his spark. Bellanok is the first book in a series you will be putting out over the course of the next few months. Somehow Brian is going to be transformed into a hero at some point. Can you give us any clues as to how this may take place? Or would that be giving away too much?

We all know that part of growing is being put through the refiner's fire, right? Let's just say there's a lot of fire--literally and figuratively. 

I’m really curious about Brian’s transformation. I’m wondering how much Fauna’s influence on him is going to help push him into the person he’s supposed to become.

I believe they will influence each other, actually. Fauna may seem all put together--and for the most part she is--but there are lessons for her to learn throughout the story as well.

Can you reveal if Brian and Fauna will become an item? Would that even work- A human and a faerie?

What do you think? *wink* If a romance were possible, though, you're right. How would that work? One would have to give up the only life they've known for that romance. Would it be worth it? Would there be any regret? Only the story can tell . . . 

I’m also curious to know what Roman will look like as a dragon. That must be awful uncomfortable being a dragon in human form. No wonder he’s kind of grouchy.

The actual being in human form is not any more or less comfortable for this particular dragon. Once on Bellanok, he goes between the two quite easily and often. However, the frustrating part for him is the restrained abilities in human form: no flying, no fire-breathing, less strength. I won't tell you much about how he looks, but I will say that he is a crimson dragon. 

Considering the short length of the books, it makes for a nice, easy read. Would you consider these to be mini-books?

The plan is that all 5 books will be about 20K words, or about 70 pages. They're novellas/novellettes. However, because they are a series, they are also termed "serials." 

Tell us when your next book in the series will be coming out.

The plan was to release the next book, Bellanok: An Urgent Quest, by Black Friday, but I think it'll be more like the first week of December. 

Have you always enjoyed the fantasy genre? What is one of your favorite series?

Yes, I've always enjoyed the fantasy genre, but it is not something I really got into until after I had kids. More time on my hands, I guess. Right now, my favorite fantasy series is the Follower of the Word trilogy by Morgan Busse. 

One last thing, if you could be any creature in your book, which one would you choose and why?

Hmmm . . . good question. Probably a fairy. In my story, they are so versatile at what they are capable of with various gifts and specialties.

Thank you for having me, Deanna!

Thank you Ralene! It was a pleasure to have you on our blog, and it was a pleasure to get to know you at the ACFW Conference this year. Don't forget to check out Ralene's bio and the BOOK GIVEAWAY below.

Whether she’s wielding a fantasy writer’s pen, a freelance editor’s sword, or a social media wand, Ralene Burke always has her head in some dreamer’s world. And her goal is to make it SHINE! She spins fantastical tales to encourage people to SHINE BEYOND. She has worked for a variety of groups/companies, including Realm Makers, The Christian PEN, Kentucky Christian Writers Conference, and as an editor for a number of freelance clients.
Her first novel, Bellanok, is being published as a 5-part serial starting in October 2015!
When her head’s not in the publishing world, she is wife to a veteran and homeschooling mama to their three kids. Her Pinterest board would have you believe she is a master chef, excellent seamstress, and all around crafty diva. If she only had the time . . .

You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, or at her website

Tell us you want Ralene's book below in the comments and you just might receive a free copy (kindle version). We'll be giving away one at the end of the week. Stay tuned for the WINNER. It might be YOU!

Monday, November 23, 2015

I have a secret.

I have a secret.

Yes, you heard me right. And here it is. I am not a book nerd.

I hear several gasps out there from many of you. See, people have assumed that because I am a writer that I am also an avid reader. And while I DO love and treasure books, this just isn’t true.

Reason being? I write so much I don’t make time for reading anymore like I should. And I say should because again and again I read on blogs and such, that in order to be a strong writer you need to be a strong reader. And I’m failing in this area, miserably.

I let people on social media see me as a huge book buff because that is what I’m ‘supposed’ to be. But I barely take the time to read. Let me rephrase that. I read constantly. But as far as fiction books go, it’s hard for me to do. There are many reasons why.

One, I’m trying desperately to build my social media platform, which requires me to be on Facebook and Twitter frequently. As writers, we all know, if we want to get traditionally published we have to get our names out there. Networking. We have to be noticed. We have to create a fan base before an agent will even bother to take notice of us. And that takes time, energy and effort. It’s obnoxious and exhausting at times. But it’s also fun. I LOVE commenting on friends posts and interacting.

Another secret (or not-so-secret) I’m an extrovert. 90% of writers are gasping right now, since I’m in the 10% of writers that aren’t introverts. Yeah, I love being around people, and since my job as a SAHM prevents me from doing that, I’m able to connect to others around me through social media. It’s a blessing and a curse.

Here’s the thing about reading. I am reading every day, all the time. It’s just not fiction. And I know this is important, but it always gets put on the back burner. Right now I’m currently reading two books, both of which I started weeks ago. The Gifting by Kate Ganshert, and Wisdom and Folly by Michele Harper. They are both excellent books that I’m enjoying very much, but I’m sooooo slooooow at reading at this point in my life.

It hasn’t always been that way. I used to gobble down books in my youth so fast I couldn’t keep up with myself. It was crazy. I literally fought with my friends in the library about who got to read what first. We LOVED books with a passion. It was a beautiful time in my life. Fiction, fiction everywhere. I would read silly little, easy stories like The Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley Kids/Twins. I would read the classics, The Little Princess and The Secret Garden. Occasionally I would even delve into actual smart literature like Number the Stars by award winning author Louis Lowry and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyal by award winning author Avi.

Once I hit the teen years, my reading tastes became more…well, not something I’m super proud of. I loved, loved, loved the Flowers in the Attic series. But they were also very naughty at times. (If only mom had known!) I read and reread those over and over. My reading obsession waned the further into my teen years I went. I developed new obsessions. Mainly music, exercise and boys. Yup. I was that girl. *hangs head in shame.

When I got married and started having babies at the sweet young age of eighteen, I quickly dug back into reading. Only this time, it was all non-fiction. I was determined to be the best wife and mommy I could be, and I tore up the pages trying to figure it all out.

This new life left little time for luxury reading (fiction/entertainment books). I read for pure learning purposes. I only briefly gave in to my need for a good entertaining book once in a great while. I remember picking up that first Christian romance. Ooo-la-la. I didn’t even know books like that existed! Then I had my ‘Amish phase’ and read every Beverly Lewis book under the sun. I found an author on a whim at the library who I fell deeply in love with. Right next to the Jane Austin books, Lynn Austin. An amazing Christian fiction writer of historical fiction. I HIGHLY recommend her books. I also found joy in reading about Jesus and Biblical times through Bodie and Brock Theone’s biblical historical books. My husband and I had a period where we whipped though their multiple series, sharing books and competing who could read through them faster.

Then life got busy. And I stopped reading. For a while. Once in a blue moon I would pick up a book and it would light a spark going off in my brain. Oh, I should read you. That would be good. Let’s try that sometime. But a lot of times I left it at that. Now, I have most of my books on my phone kindle. And there are a ton! My TBR list is enormous. And intimidating. And sometimes it’s so big I don’t even want to try. And to top that off, I recently learned that my library sells used YA books for only $0.50! So naturally since I write YA, and I should be taking the time to read YA, I go in frequently and clean out the shelves. It’s awesome. And they sit. In my house, in a pile. Unread. It’s kind of depressing. They sit there, mocking me. Taunting me.

I have another confession on top of that doozy. I didn’t know who Dr. Who was until recently.

Ok, so I write YA Speculative. I’ve immersed myself in “Spekkies” over the last year, trying to infiltrate their awesome world, delving deeper into the land of awesome nerdiness/geek culture. I have never enjoyed hard core Sci-Fi. Never have. Never will. Science bores the snot out of me. But I do enjoy Fantasy, dystopian and the occasional Faerie Tale Retelling. I always thought of myself as a huge nerd. But when I’m ‘around’ all these speculative writers, I realize, my nerdiness factor could use a major boost.

I have always been in love with Narnia. I hate LOTR. (PLEASE don’t hate me!!!) I couldn’t even get through the first few pages because it bored me so much. (My son, on the other hand, has read the entire series four times over, go figure.) I have always loved and adored everything Star Trek, I even had a Star Trek themed birthday party. I have never read Harry Potter (Ok, now you really hate me). I tried the first chapter and it just didn’t suck me in. And of course, I plan on taking my sons to the theater as soon as the new Star Wars movie comes out. But I don’t even know what it’s called.

So I like it all, but I’m not invested. 

I didn’t know who Dr. Who was (literally Dr. Who???), until my husband started watching it. (Sorry to rat you out there, honey!) I will never be a Whovian. It’s ok, and we’re still working through the series. But I’m not into creepy, scary, ugly looking creatures or aliens for that matter. I don’t understand most of it. I like it. But I’m not in love. 

I tried Firefly, the first episode, I had to struggle through the first fifteen minutes. It BORED me to death. I didn’t like it or connect to anything. Then six months later, when I realized I couldn’t possibly be a speculative author without seeing this sacred show, attempted to watch it again. This time, I started on the second episode. And I was hooked. I loved it so much. By the end of watching it on Netflix, I bought the whole season at Walmart. (I AIM TO MISBEHAVE -‘cause you know- Walmart. *hangs head in shame again) And my husband ordered the movie for me. I am now an official browncoat. But this stuff doesn’t come naturally to me. I have to work at it. I want to fit in. But I don’t want to be fake either.

So now you know. The truth is out. This Speculative YA writer is not obsessively shoveling down the books. She is not as big of a nerd as she needs to be to make it in this world of writerly-spekkie-awesomeness. But I’m working on it. One Tardis, one Serenity spaceship at a time. 

-Writer, Deanna Fugett 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Part Three of Four Interviews

Welcome to part three of our four interviews. This week Robin interviews Lucy.
Take a look at the first here and second interviews here.

What made you decide to write a novel?
Is being crazy an answer? Probably not…Sigh. Writing a novel is hard work and time-consuming. But I find it challenging, terrific fun and satisfying. The sense of achievement when you type those two little words “THE END” is hard to beat.

How has God been faithful to keep you on that path over the years?
He gave me the most supportive husband on the face of the earth! There had been too many times that I’ve been on the brink of shoving this dream to the deepest, darkest pit in my heart, but he wouldn’t allow me to. I’m tremendously grateful for the man that he is.

What came to you first? Character, setting, or plot? How did the rest of the novel form around that seedling idea?
Definitely character. Basically, characters always seem to come to me first. I always tend to wonder why characters are where they are. Did what they did, and how will they fix it or live with it. I’m probably more of a character driven writer than plot driven.

What have you done since you started writing to hone your skills and get better at your craft?
I spent most of my early writing life as a “closet writer”. I told a selected few family members and friends that I dreamed of being an author… That was it. I wrote away in secrecy. Early on in our marriage my husband told me it was time to get serious about my writing. I don’t know if he was impressed by what he read or simply got tired of me whining about “dreaming of being an author”. I took his advice. I enrolled for some writing courses, attended writing classes and purchased a dozen books about the craft of writing.
Two years ago I gathered enough guts to become a member of ACFW’s and am still learning more and more about the craft.

You work full-time, care for your darling baby boy, and write historical fiction. How do you find balance in all these consuming tasks? Can you offer any words of encouragement to aspiring writers who are also employed at other jobs?
Yes ma’am, I work full-time as a bookkeeper. Numbers and words kind of the same thing – right? Hehehe. Just kidding.
I try to put my family first. Sometimes I fail, other times I succeed. I think it all comes down to prioritizing. Since writing is also important to me, I occasionally find myself writing late at night – when the rest of the house is asleep and I’m not too tired.  
I’m not going to lie and say it’s been easy, because it’s not. Weeks go by without me putting down one word, and it makes me feel anxious. But a quote I read some time ago really sums it all up. I want to share it with any other aspiring writer that finds balancing working full-time, family time and writing daunting. 
“If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.” (The author was unknown.)

What do you hope to achieve personally and professionally with regards to your writing?
I’d love to put a smile on someone’s face. God blessed me with a gift to make people laugh, if I can accomplish that with my writing, I’d be happy. I’d like to hope I was called to write to make my readers smile, perhaps even laugh.

Is there a work of fiction that has stuck with you over time? Why?

Hands down, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. 
I read that book the first time about ten years ago. And I've reread it numerous times since. 
The message that God’s grace and forgiveness is enough, remained with me all this time.


Hope you all join us next week when I interview Deanna.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Contemplating the yes, no, and not yets…
Instant, yes and comfort showers our daily lives.
Fast food. Flip of a switch. Push of a button.
And voila! Hunger dismissed. Room’s alight. TV blares.
It appears as if we humans thrive on easy and convenient.  We are so spoiled that waiting and not yet are foreign words. Though instant might make life easier, some of them aren’t necessarily better. We gobble up unhealthy food. Throw tantrums when something doesn’t happen instantly. Baking a cake from scratch? Oh the horror!  Why cook a meal on a stove if shoving it in the microwave is so much quicker? In a world flocked with instant and yeses, what about patience? Where does God’s instruction for us to be patient come in?
Have you ever approached the Lord for something, and out of His abundant love, He favored you with it? Yup. It's happened to me as well. There had been events where He said yes, even before I needed to inquire. I will be straightforward, those are the best times. But, God has also said no to me. I'm not very enamored with a no, particularly not when it's a no to something I truly want. But, in the end, I know it's for my own good. The same way I'll need to say no one day to my son when he wants dessert, yet declines to have veggies, or wants to avoid his shower in the wake of playing outside. It might not be comfortable to hear a no, but rather it is fundamental.
Sadly, I battle with the not yets. I can deal with a yes and a no. Since the starting and the end is clear for both. Yes you can. Yes, pull out all the stops. No you can't. No, don't. But, the not yet? What do you do with that? What about a time span, Lord? It would be ideal if You'd be somewhat more specific? Not yet? Whenever then? In a day? A year? More painfully, what do I do meanwhile?
Of course everyone experiences a not yet or perhaps severalA dear friend of mine has been in the not yet for a husband for a long time, another one for a baby. My own life's peppered with the not yets.  I try to hide my not yets, tuck them away because they are oh-so-tender. But what if I’m handling my not yets wrong? What if those not yets need room to breathe? What if I need to stop acting as if I’ve been struck with a batch of the incurable-unnamable-deadly-disease called not yet’? I suspect many of my other friends are in the same boat as me, hiding their not yets from the world. Hoping no one would notice or that it would go away.
My longest stretch of not yet is with my writing journey. And it’s discouraging when I look around me and my fellow writers aren’t in the not yets with their writing. Disheartened I try to speed up the process. I try another route or method, and even attempt to negotiate with the Lord. Obviously, none of those work. Recently, I started meditating on my not yet – I can’t help to wonder if I shouldn’t change my vantage point. God’s delay might just be a delay and not denial. Just because I haven’t snatched up a publishing contract, haven’t had a ‘this is perfect’, doesn’t mean God’s not going to answer me, or that He’s ignoring or forgotten about me.  After all, God gave me the desire to write. He’s the giver of dreams, talents and gifts.
Learning to plow through the not yet is part of maturing in Christ.  It’s not necessarily easy, but it’s possible. Sarah’s not yet lasted twenty-five years. The Israelites wandered the desert for forty years. If you’re struggling with discouragement because your not yet feels like forever, remember God might be teaching you patience. A quality that I think is declining in our fast paced lives. He can transform your discouragement into patience, you need only ask. So take heart, wander your not yet. God is perfecting the good work He started in you.

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged.
For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9