I promised all of you a blog post about my fantastic trip that I took with my brother, Richard Simon. We are only fifteen months apart in age, but over the years, we have ended up on opposite sides of the US. What a thrill to spend ten days with him.
We covered four countries: Denmark, Sweden, Germany, and Austria.
Everyone has asked me what my favorite part was. That is really impossible to say since there were so many wonderful things; spending time with my brother must rank as number one. Discovering family roots is high on the list, especially one very special find on our mother’s side in Sweden that dates back to the 1700’s. Sweden and Germany were our main focus since we were following our ancestral roots. But we managed two days in Copenhagen and one in Salzburg, Austria as well. As a Sound of Music fan, I gleefully embarrassed my brother singing Do Re Me on the steps and dancing around the Pegasus fountain. And I almost got him to dance with me at the gazebo like Liesel and Rolf. Maybe that will be my next post.
Since keeping blog posts shorts is a must, I am going to stray from our roots for a moment. I discovered that I loved searching for old churches. I love the architecture, and reverent feeling I get when I am near them. It is a shame that I heard that much of Europe do not actually use these churches very much. We were blessed to be inside two that were obviously active. In a church in Bastad, Sweden, we heard the organist practicing and singing How Great Though Art. And in Berkenfeld, Germany, we were privileged to hear two young teenage girls practicing singing, I have loved you for a thousand years. Both in English.
Let these pictures speak a thousand words. Don’t be surprised if some of these end up in my novels.
We have something very different today. Our author on Author Interview Friday wrote an interactive book – one that is okay to write in. Tell the readers the premise of your book we are promoting today?
The name of my book is “The Overflow of the Heart”. It is a Devotional Journal.
It is somewhat different than most devotional journals. Most devotional journals list a scripture or thought for the day at the top of the page and then ask the reader to reflect and write about it. My devotional journal lists all scriptures having to do with “The Heart” in the back of the book and instructs the reader to find, and then write, a scripture based on how they are feeling that day. This way, the journal will be extremely personal to the writer. As you reread your own writing, you will be able to track your personal journey through life. One day you may not be in a good place and you may choose a scripture and write words of hurt, pain or anger. Other days you may be in a great place and choose a scripture and write words of encouragement, thankfulness and joy.
Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to whet out appetite?
The condition of your heart is directly related to how you look, speak, and treat others. If your heart is joyous, you will probably appear happy, speak politely, and treat others with love. If you have a broken heart, you will probably appear despondent, speak hurtfully, and treat others callously.
How can you determine the condition of your heart? After all, if you want to know the strength of your body, you can take an agility test. If you want to know the condition of your brain, you can take a written test. So how can you tell what is in your heart or in the heart of someone you meet? The answer is quite simple … the answer is pressure. The heart is a tube, and when pressure is applied, what comes out in words and actions is what is inside.
To understand this principle, think about any and all items you can imagine that come in a tube, such as toothpaste, glue, acrylic paint, hair gel, hair color, cake icing, etc. If these items were all lined up in unmarked tubes, how could you tell what was on the inside? That’s easy … just squeeze the tube. Then you could see, smell, touch, and experience what was inside each tube.
The same is true for a person. When a person is squeezed, you will experience what is inside or what is in the heart. It’s the substance of the heart that will come out. Unlike a tube of icing, we obviously cannot physically squeeze a person. However, you are squeezed every day. Every day, pressure is applied to your daily life. Maybe it is the pressure you feel when you’re stuck in traffic and late for work, or maybe it is the pressure you feel when given a deadline on a project. Pressure can be as simple as spilling the milk container on the floor or as difficult as the loss of a loved one. Pressure is love and hate, weddings and divorces. Pressure is a good checkup at the doctor or a diagnosis of cancer. Pressure is going to school, taking tests, making friends, and dealing with enemies. Pressure is around you all the time. How do you react? The substance of your heart determines how you react!
Do you react with kindness, patience, forgiveness, and love? Or do you yell, scream, throw something, or hurt someone? If you are honest with yourself, you can gauge your own heart and grow to be the person God wants you to become.
Occasionally, you may react in an obscure way—you might overreact to a situation or say something you should have never said. Then, this reaction is usually followed up with an apology and words to the effect of, “I’m sorry … I didn’t really mean what I said.” That is a lie. The truth is that you probably did mean what you said, and when pressure was applied, the words that were in your heart came out of your mouth! It would be more accurate to say, “I’m sorry I hurt you … what I was thinking in my head and feeling in my heart actually came out of my mouth!”
Thank you Joy. Why did you write a Devotional Journal?
I have been journaling for many years. Sometimes I write in a traditional journal that prompts my writing for the day. There are other times that I write in a notebook when my heart is overflowing with emotions such as fear, pain, hurt, joy or thanksgiving. The Journal that I designed was exactly what I was doing in a notebook. I was trying to “find my heart” and I was writing everything I could find about “The Heart”. As I went back over time and read what I wrote on my pages, I saw my own “heart change” documented in my own writing. This book is set up to make it easy and to keep the writer accountable and on track.
Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indi publisher to a colleague?
I chose the hybrid between traditional publishers and self-publishing and went with Crossbooks Publishing, which is the self-publishing branch of Lifeway. While I had to pay to have my book published, Crossbooks reserves the right to review all submitted material. I would recommend Crossbooks as they will also assist in marketing, set up a Facebook page, edit, advertise, create the cover design and file all required copyrights and ISBN.
It is not enough to write a book and wait for the money to start rolling in. What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?
This is not a get rich quick scheme. As a matter of fact, it an expensive hobby once you get started. However, it can also be very rewarding, even while it may not be lucrative. I try to find book singing events as well as being proactive and asking stores if I could do book signing.
What advise would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?
Just do it! It’s not easy getting started but once you start, you get hooked! My second Devotional Journal is called “The Overflow of Joy” and should be available by Spring 2014.
Do you use your real name for writing?
I do not use my full name for writing. I use my first and middle name… Carolyn Joy
Welcome James to Author Interview Friday. Your story is an interesting one and I am going to let you tell it without my interruptions. Take it away James.
I’m probably going to sound like some weird nut case but I had this story in my head for many years. When I retired, I finally had some time and decided to try to write it. It ended up with over a million characters and I had to trim, trim, trim. The characters took over early on and all I did was write down what they dictated. I found my self laughing with them, crying with them and actually arguing with them. I would often say (out loud) I can’t get you out of this or that situation but low and behold they could, … and did.
My first writing endeavor began as a graphic adult love story with a science fiction twist (The Waters Series – 2 books). That was followed by to science fiction that developed into four books (Tra$h Man Series). Then a change of genre, to a humorous memoir of my time in the US Air Force as a photographer (Helluva Ride), to a fictional religion based book dealing with the second coming of a messiah, a woman this time. (The Perfect Daughter)
I am a lousy self marketer of my works. I chose to self publish because I don’t have to answer to anyone and write the kind of stories I like to read. They don’t fit to formula writing and if no one reads them, that’s okay. I’m just not concerned with selling books. I believe I’m a “author” not a writer. Writers write to earn a living and authors write in hopes of being read.
Without a doubt, for me the editing process is the most difficult. Luckily I have several very intelligent friends and the Pine Island Writers group that provided constructive criticism. I’m terrible at grammar and if it were not for computers and spell check writing would be impossible for me. Sorry to say that I don’t follow an outline. I tried to, but with my writing style of letting the characters go their own way, following an outline doesn’t work for me. My characters play in a similar manner to life itself, where despite the best of plans, what the next day brings is often a roll of the dice.
I am probably be the last person to answer any questions about writing as a career. If it’s for your own feeling of self worth then write what comes calling and let it flow. Let your story tell itself and don’t worry about things that are “cleaned up” later in editing.
The title of my book is “The Perfect Daughter” You can get it on Amazon at the link below. Briefly, it is a strange twisting chain of events collimating in the second coming of the next Messiah, a woman this time. The product of an immaculate conception virgin birth, Christine brings a message of love and hope for humanity. Her mission is to find and train twelve women to carry on her message as she explores her own human side. (It’s kinda the story I think most people would like to know about Christ and his human side.)
(Character talking with God.) Why don’t you show yourself to me? I’d feel less afraid if I could see you.”
“In all the religions of all the worlds throughout the universe, I made my creations with free will first, and secondly, I gave them an awareness of me. Please, understand this wasn’t so they would worship me. I am not vain. I neither need nor want the whole of creation falling on their faces at altars to sing my praises, or pray to me morning, noon and night ad infinitum. Certainly I never, ever, want sacrifices to me. I would never ask that of my children. The only reason I want my creation to know of me is so they know love, forgiveness, trust, and kindness. I greatest desire is for the whole of my creation to celebrate that. But nearly everywhere across the universe, where their writings proclaim me as their only God, I am assumed of have make them in my image. They often presume that I demand the blood of anyone that doesn’t believe in the religious cultures teachings in this country or that. The same as it is here on your world.”
“Then, …” I asked clearing my throat and with a little fear in my voice, “ ahhmm … what do you really look like?”
(Sara’s – [To be Christine’s mother] early introduction into story)
So, this young woman, who had everything; brains, beauty, talent, and in the prime of her life only months from obtaining her PhD – was lying on the highway amid the cataclysm.
Each heartbeat spurt from the gaping wound in her neck lessened her chance for continuing life.
First, she was aware of the tumult, a cacophony of sounds, … sirens screeching, men and women screaming, people running, the deep, heavy rumble, crashing sounds of heavy things breaking and the ground shaking under her. Then the sounds of shattering glass and dogs howling, but it was the screaming and running that frightened her most.
Then she was aware of acrid, black rubber and tar-burning smoke that seared her lungs, stung her eyes and burned her throat.
Dazed, she rose up on one arm to look through the fog in her mind. The caustic smoke, bedlam and carnage all about her overwhelmed her senses as she tried to understand what was happening. Looking at the ground through a fuzzy haze, she was aware of blood splattering, and the thought flashed through her mind….‘who’s getting blood all over my new, beautiful, yellow, dress, … I’ll have a devil of a time getting that stain out. Who’s doing that, … stop it!’ The blur increased as she grew weaker. The sudden realization struck her that she was the source of the blood. She began to cry as she slumped forward. It grew darker and she felt sick as the chill overcame her.
(First meeting with 25 of the top world religious leaders to show the proof of the divine miracle of virgin birth.)
By the time they entered the vault room Keith had another lighting pack set up. There were twenty-five cases stacked. There were also comfortable chairs for those gathered to sit in. Robert stepped forward at this point and addressed the group. “This ‘proof’, is by far the most unbelievable of all. I’m a medical doctor and I had doubts, even though it was my own daughter, so rather than bore you with my story I’ll just show you the proof.” Robert gave a visual presentation of every record, the entire CT scans, Sonograms, MRIs, DNA evidence, detailing everything he had discovered. He had Sara and Victor tell their story in their own words of what they experienced. At the conclusion he wrapped it up with the statement. “I can’t offer you more proof than this. I’m giving you all the material I have, every scrap of paper, every note, memo, thought. I have to let you now decide what to do with it.”
Thank you James. It has been a pleasure having you on Author Interview Friday.
Please welcome Brenda Brown Elliott. She is a Christian woman who loves writing literary fiction and inspirational works as a source of comfort for all. Honesty & integrity are priorities in her life.
Joanne: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?
Brenda: The idea for my novel came to me while living and working in Phoenix, AZ back in 2001. Many of the patients at the clinic I worked for were elderly, people who had emigrated from Europe and had survived the world wars over there in the middle of horrendous living conditions. They ended up retiring in the warmth and sunshine of Sun City, AZ and became friends. I worked as a Patient Service Specialist back then at the front desk.
Joanne: Do you have a background in writing or did you take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?
Brenda: No, My novel was the first project I have ever written.
Joanne: How long did it take you to publish your fist manuscript?
Brenda: I wrote the entire story in four months in 2008 and but I just got it published. I tucked it away for years due to chronic illnesses on my part. Although I was bedridden most of the time while writing it.
Joanne: Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. What shelf would we find Courage Times Three if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?
Brenda: I have a publicist, Hajni Blasko of Substance Books and she chose Literary Fiction for first genre and Inspirational Journey for second represented genre.
Joanne: Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication?
Brenda: For me, it was the right choice. The cost effectiveness, my own choices, and quicker output were just a few of reasons.
Joanne: What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher?
Brenda: I heard good things about Create Space through Amazon.
Joanne: Would you recommend that same Indie publisher to a colleague?
Joanne: Authors and publishers are always talking about finding your “Voice”. Exactly what does that mean to you and how did you find yours?
Brenda: This story was in my heart, it was a Godly inspiration by the time I finally wrote it after I had been on my Christian walk for some time. I could see and hear the pain of living through these heavily accented voices of survivors how much they had overcome to get to their happy years in retirement. Many widows by then tho.
Joanne: Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time or different POV’s?
Brenda: I did read other novels to recognize how the flow should be patterned and to remember to go back to earlier references I had made in the story. Not dropping anything of consequence was key to bringing it all together.
Joanne: What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?
Brenda: As a self-published author, I did not have to do any query letters or synopsis. With my illnesses, my cognitive abilities pretty much threw out my organizational abilities which caused me much frustration due to a lack of concentration. Also. I just could not work on my project for several days. On some days I couldn’t even get energized enough for a shower…I was very weak during those periods of time (which were frequent). So for me it was literally a physical struggle to keep going until the end of the story.
Joanne: That must have been very hard. I must commend you for sticking with it and accomplishing your goal. As I have heard many times, “It is easy to start a novel, it is finishing one that take real perseverance.”
As we know, it is not enough to write a book and wait for the money to start rolling in. What marketing techniques do you implement to increase your sales?
Brenda: I hired a publicist. I created a website (quite poorly I think). I started a blog on WordPress and I advertise on them with links to Create Space and Amazon. I have set up my own appointments for book signings along with an upcoming radio interview. I follow instructions daily from my publicist to give my novel further exposure. I am joining various writing groups. Looking to give and get reviews.
Joanne: Was there any mistakes you made in your writing process you could share with us and save a few steps for new writers?
Brenda: Don’t hand the manuscript over to anybody to read until you are near finished with it. They may likely tear it apart wanting to seem knowledgeable. I found that minimal feedback works best for me. If you don’t have a pretty good idea of just what you are working to achieve, nobody else really can either.
Joanne: That is so true. You must believe in your work before anyone else can. What is the premise of Courage Times Three that we are promoting today?
Brenda: To be the best person you can be. To serve God’s purpose for your being. To appreciate all of our liberties here in the United States in comparison to numerous countries throughout the world. To be kind and gracious to others.
Joanne: Those are lofty aspirations Brenda. Sometimes easier said than done. Perhaps your book will be a guiding light for others to find their way. Where can readers find your book?
Thank you Brenda for being a part of Writing Under Fire’s Author Interview Friday. Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to wet out appetite?
Centrally located in the heart of the city, they were greeted by the concierge of the well established Hotel Concorde Saint Lazare. As with all prestigious guests, the concierge assumed full responsibility for their check-in and baggage. After receiving a quick history of the hotel, including the many amenities offered, the travel-weary, yet enthusiastic bride and groom comfortably settled themselves into their suite. A large sterling silver bowl, filled with various fruits, and an exquisite bottle of Dom Perignon, chilling in an ice filled silver bucket, awaited them in their luxurious suite. Madeleine was sure to remove the bottle from the ice once it had reached the perfect temperature of 45 degrees, a well known fact shared by most Parisians.
Set high above the streets, the locality of their suite offered sweeping views of the charming city. Never had Hal felt more like royalty. He had never been privy to that kind of luxury. But it also was a lavish treat for Madeleine.
The magnificence of the suite was more than intoxicating. Furnished in high-backed Queen Ann chairs and tables designed of rich marble, the rooms were dressed in finely hand-painted vases, filled with red, white and yellow long-stemmed roses strategically placed throughout their expansive quarters. Fluffy, white lace beddings adorned an enormous bed, lavished with soft, inviting pillows in the bedroom area. Massive, beautifully framed oil paintings, providing a taste of delicate French gardens, hung stately upon the softly painted walls.
The restaurant, located within walking distance of their hotel, provided a welcomed opportunity to stretch their legs as they leisurely strolled the cobblestone streets. Dining that first evening in Paris, Madeleine and Hal savored every bite of the fine French cuisine they’d been advised to experience. Always a necessary accompaniment with dinner, the fine wine they enjoyed was expertly chosen by the lovely Madeleine.
Feeling the after effects of their journey the lovebirds returned to their hotel for a good night’s sleep.
Standing on the terrace accompanying their suite, inspired by the nightly view of the city all aglow, they sent a sincere thank you to their Heavenly Father for providing their undeserving souls with such grandeur and beauty. With the charm of the city still enticing them, they closed the doors to the outside world, allowing themselves to fulfill each other’s Godly created desires.