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