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Archive for November, 2010


Shawna K. Williams is an Inspirational Romance writer who loves telling a story through flawed characters – the only kind she can relate to. She also likes a good dose of nostalgia, which is why many of her stories are set in rural America during the first half of the 20th Century.
When not writing, Shawna spends time with her husband and three children enjoying life on their ranch. She’s also an avid reader, book reviewer, editor, blogger, and jewelry designer.

RA: Hi, Shawna! Happy Holidays and Congratulations on your new release! Could you tell us a little bit about it?
Orphaned Hearts is my third book. It’s a wonderful little story set in Northwestern Arkansas, during 1932.
The main character, David, is a preacher who grew up in an orphanage. His family was killed during a fire and David was severely burned. However, since his scars are hidden beneath his clothing no one knows about it.
David believes that his scars make him unlovable, so when he encounters an orphaned boy, who lost him arm in the accident that killed his family, David is set on finding him a home. In a way, he feels that if he can find a home for Caleb there is also hope for himself.
Sadie is a spinster. After her fiancé died she devoted herself to caring for her father. After his passing she finds her loneliness exasperated by having no outlet for her care giving nature. So when David asks her to take Caleb in she readily agrees, completely overlooking his handicap.
David begins to see hope for himself and Caleb in Sadie, but their entire future is threatened when a small deception committed by David is revealed.

RA: What was the inspiration behind this work?
I love this question, Regina. This story was inspired by my granddad. The story isn’t based on his life. He wasn’t a preacher, nor was he burned, but he was an orphan, brought up in an orphanage during the 1920s -30s. My grandmother’s father ran the orphanage’s dairy and that’s how my grandparents met. Many of the small details in this story are directly from memories told to me by my grandmother.
As for the plot. One day I started to wonder about a family made of not just orphans, but also misfits finding a home with each other. Things evolved from there. The original draft was a 10,000 word short story, but the characters intrigued me. I realized there was much more to them so I wrote it into a 42,000 word novel
RA: How does this work relate to other works you’ve written?
Orphaned Hearts is a stand alone. The only relation it has to other works is that is also a historical, and it’s a character driven (self discovery) sort of story.

RA: What role, if any did your personal memories play in creating this Christmas book?
I love Christmas! It’s kind of hard to say how my own memories influenced the Christmas scene. It seems like the setting belonged to the characters, and evolved from them. But…my grandmother baked the best goodies. If love has a flavor, that’s what she added. I see Sadie as the same way.
Also, the train at Christmas time is a toy in the story, but my grandfather was a train conductor and he loved it. I chose a train not just for the nostalgia, but also because of him.

RA: Did the tone and theme of this work relate to any other of your works? How?
No, but it may relate to future works. The couple that backs out of adopting Caleb has a little girl. As the reader you won’t know this, only that Mrs. Sheldon is pregnant, but I’m the author so I’m privy to this sort of information. Anyhow, I’m contemplating that there might be a future romance between a grown up Caleb and this girl, whose name is Amanda btw. I think it’s a neat idea to consider that perhaps things worked out the way they did, with the Sheldons backing out of the adoption, because Caleb couldn’t very well marry Amanda if she’d been his sister. So it would be like God knowing His plan for Caleb and Amanda’s lives all along. That’s about as far as I’ve gotten with this idea, but I like it. A lot of my stories are written with this in mind and I guess it’s because I believe it so strongly. It’s a pretty amazing thing to look at something you thought was bad, and years later see where it turned into something good. This is actually a huge theme in No Other and In All Things.

RA: There’s a saying, “write what you know”. What do you think of this? How does it apply, or not apply, to your work?
Well, I’m extremely introspective, over thinking and analytical. I like to understand people, why they think, feel and do. I’m sure I acquired this interest over trying to decipher my own inner workings, so in this regard, I am writing what I know. Insecurities have had a role in my life, too big of a role, and I think on some level this may always be a struggle for me. So, I guess this may be one of the reasons I like dealing with these things in my stories. Maybe I’m like my character David. If it can work out for the people in my stories, then it can work it out for myself.

RA: You’ve created many characters! Any new ones in the works?
Yes, she’s actually a character I cut from In All Things who is making a reappearance in an unexpected way in the new project I’m working on. I’m also looking forward to fleshing out some secondary characters in this story.
RA: How has your life changed since you became a published author?
My house is messier and I get less sleep, but I’ve made lots of new friends so it’s totally worth it.
RA: Many writers have discussed writing flashbacks. What are your thoughts about this technique?
Be careful. It can be great, but it has to be done with skill. You need an effective lead-in and a way to pull your reader back to the present. Otherwise the flashback becomes something separate from the story your reader is reading. They have to leave and then come back and it interrupts the flow. You want them to make a detour into the flashback, and you want it to flow naturally so as they don’t even realize they’ve done it.
The exception is a prologue. This can stand out on its own. I also think flashbacks should be used sparingly. If a story relies heavily on back story, look for a variety of ways to pull the back story in. Flashbacks are just one tool.

RA: Do you belong to a writer’s group? Have you in the past?
I’ve belonged to several critique groups in the past and they were very helpful. Now I have a writing partner who is also a great friend. She gets me, gets my work, and isn’t afraid to tell me when it stinks. I do the same for her. I wouldn’t mind joining a local writing group. I just haven’t found the time yet, but maybe soon.
RA: What would be the best advice you could give a beginning writer?
Well, this is the same advice as my last interview, but that was only a few weeks ago, and I still think it’s good advice worth repeating. Back to your question about writing what you know: I think it’s equally important, if not more-so, that an author writes who they are. Yes, we have to learn the craft, pay attention to trends and whatnot. Those things are important. Just be sure that in doing so you don’t lose yourself. God gave you this calling because of who you are, and the best stories come from the heart.”
Every heart is unique! We start off with this dream to write because of this passion deep inside, and of course we want to get published, but I hope beginning writers will ask themselves which is more important; to write what you love, or to write to get published. There’s a difference. I’m not saying that they are exclusive of each other because obviously they aren’t. It’s just that it’s a tough journey and there are a lot of things to take into account while pursuing it.

RA: Time to get personal! Could you tell us about yourself?
Sure. Just an average gal. I’m a Christian, wife and mother. I love old houses, Christmas and critters, especially dogs. I enjoy hiking, rock hounding, reading and making jewelry. I enjoy other things too, but at the moment I can’t think of what they are (It’s 3:30 am). I don’t know what else to say really, I’m just normal most of the time, and a little kooky on occasion.
RA: What is your favorite Christmas tradition? Song? Personal memory?
My favorite is that for a week before Christmas I sneak little gifts under the small trees in my kids’ rooms. It’s little stuff: a candy bar, pair of earring, beef jerky. But it’s fun and it builds the anticipation. Not so much anymore since they are teenagers, but now they want me to do it for the sake of nostalgia. We also eat this outrageously buttery, syrupy, oatmeal for breakfast on Christmas day. I wrote that into No Other and In All Things.
RA: And what’s next for you, writing-wise? Could you tell us what to expect in any other books you’ll be releasing?
I have ideas, one of them is a spin off from No Other and In All Things. I haven’t done much with it because I’ve been so busy promoting. I probably won’t do much until after the holidays. I’m trying to decide if I want it to be a one book spin off or a series.

RA: Thank you so much for sharing with us. Good luck with your releases and please come back again soon!

(Please feel free to insert an excerpt here with intro)
The squeals of happy children playing outside on a warm summer day drew his attention to the window. David rose and paced across his small office inside the church.
Across the field, the Carson children played on the schoolyard. Twin little girls, Christine and Caroline, dressed alike as usual, bobbed up and down on the seesaw, and their pigtails bounced along with them. Their older brother, Marcus — maybe eight or nine now — hung upside down from a tree branch, and Mrs. Carson sat on a park bench with her youngest son — what was his name… Daniel, playing at her feet. The toddler’s back was to David, and he scooted a toy David couldn’t see along the ground. Mrs. Carson called out to Marcus to be careful.
A mother and her children, a beautiful sight. Soon she’d take them home and cook dinner. When their father arrived from work, the children would rush to greet him, hugging his legs as he entered the house. Then the family would sit down together to eat and talk about their day. David pictured the scene with clarity. A family as it should be. A family like Caleb used to have.
David wasn’t sure which was worse; to be old enough to remember your family and have to endure the pain of losing them like Caleb had or to be spared that pain because you were too young when they died. Like himself. He may have escaped the pain of loss, but throughout his childhood he’d wondered how it felt to be loved.
Even so, he’d recovered.
Perhaps his own story could comfort the six-year-old boy? David tried to imagine Caleb’s face as he heard the tale.
“You see, Caleb, I was orphaned when I was two. I had a mother and father and a sister, just like you — so I was told. But they all died and I went to live at the children’s home, the same one as you. Good people came into my life there. The person I best remember was a minister, Brother Rice. He visited every Sunday with his family. He’s why I became a minister and why I come to the orphanage to see the children and try to find homes if I can.”
“Did you ever find a home?” the boy would ask.
And then he’d have to answer. “No, son. I didn’t.”

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RA: Hi, Diane! It’s so nice to have you today. Could you tell us a little bit about your new release?

DC: Hi, Regina! I’m thrilled to be here. A Christmas Gift is very dear to my heart. I wrote it with passion and love because although my new release is fictional, the setting and different events are based on true experiences.

RA: What was the inspiration behind this work?

DC: I had thought of writing a story about my father for a long time. His life was hard with his mother’s rejection at a young age so he was raised by various relatives. Some homes were better than others, because he stayed at times with an alcoholic uncle. Even though both parents deserted him, he had a deep faith and was able to be a good father to me and my siblings.

Also I wanted the young daughter to be the one to help her dad with his disability. I thought it fitting that she could make him believe that his obstacle could still be overcome at his age. In turn, he gives her a beautiful gift that comes from his heart.

RA: How does this work relate to other works you’ve written?

DC: A Christmas Gift is written in first person and my chick-lit mystery, A Fiery Secret, is also written in first person. Another way this work relates to my other books is the fact that faith plays an important part in A Christmas Gift as well as my inspirational romances.

RA: Concerning the relationship between character development and story line, how do you proceed with these two aspects?

DC: I think of the character first with an interesting conflict. For a few days dialogue, scenes, setting and characters parade across my mind before I write anything down. When I start writing, I put the big scenes down before even starting the first few pages. My characters tend to take over so I don’t make a detailed outline.

RA: Do you deliberately coordinate the geographical setting with your primary theme when writing?

DC: I did coordinate the geographical setting with my primary theme of A Christmas Gift. It was necessary to have a farm setting where I grew up since I included many things from my childhood. It lends an authentic feel to the whole story and love seeps through the characters in this setting.
In my women’s fiction, Never the Same, I wanted the main character to live in Chicago because of her career and it plays an important part in the story’s theme. Small towns and rural areas seem to work the best for my other story themes.

RA: Lots of writers have issues with conflict. What was your process of developing and resolving the primary conflict in this particular work?

DC: Justin Reeves feels shame about something that he has hidden from his family. I resolved his conflict by having his young daughter reach out to him. Adults hadn’t realized what needed to be done, but she gave her dad exactly what he needed – prayers that started the ball rolling and faith he could accomplish his goal.

RA: Did the conflict in this work relate to any other of your works? How?

DC: The conflict in this work didn’t relate to any of my other works.

RA: There’s a saying, “write what you know”. What do you think of this? How does it apply, or not apply, to your work?

DC: A Christmas Gift is inspired by true childhood incidents so I definitely wrote what I knew and it was helpful to this particular story. The investigative reporter in A Fiery Secret is based loosely on a daughter, Christina. A secondary character was inspired by our daughter Amanda. She was born with Down syndrome and is quite an amazing young lady.
I did research for my other books and enjoyed giving careers to my heroines that I knew nothing about with the exception of my inspirational romance, Marrying Mallory. Mallory is a junior high school English teacher. I taught English to both jr. high and high school students.

RA: You’ve created many characters! Any particular favorites, and why?

DC: My two favorites are probably Whitney Benson and Debby Reeves. Whitney is a former New York producer and moves back home to take care of her ill mother. I can relate to Whitney because she’s the youngest sister and has two older sisters. I happen to have three older sisters so it was fun to write Whitney in Charge with older sisters playing matchmaker to their little sis. And, of course, I have to say Debby is one of my favorites because she’s so like I was at a young age…a brat but lovable. LOL

RA: What do you do to renew and refresh your creative energy?

DC: It’s hard because I have a lot of responsibility with having two daughters with special needs. I take breaks from my writing to take care of family. But here are some ways I refresh my creative energy: spending time with my children and husband watching movies and TV, swimming, bicycling, baking and reading.

RA: Tell us please about the presence of both faith and evil in your work. How do you reconcile these two seemingly incongruous entities?

DC: All my books have faith in them even if they might not be considered Christian books. I like to have an inspirational quality to my story lines.
Sometimes an evil character in my books might become a wholesome and loving person because of a faith-changing event.

RA: Many writers have discussed writing humorous scenes. What are your thoughts about creating humorous passages?

DC: I have a blast writing humorous scenes. Whitney in Charge has a few humorous passages that readers have told me they enjoyed. I couldn’t get through my own challenges in life if I didn’t have faith and a sense of humor.

RA: How long have you been writing? What’s the most rewarding aspect of it? The most frustrating?

DC: When our oldest daughter Sara was a toddler (she’s 34 now), I started writing nonfiction. I wrote a partial book, Born to Love about her. I never finished it because no book publisher was interested in the story, but I did get a few magazine articles out of it. One was in Virtue magazine, one in Down Syndrome Today, and a few other publications. In 2001, my first short book was published and later I switched to writing fiction. My first inspirational romance was published in 2006. I’ve also been published in Woman’s World and have several articles on writing published at WritersWeekly.com

The most rewarding aspect is when I get positive feedback from readers saying something in my story line or the characters touched them in some way. When book reviewers also like my books that makes it all seem rewarding too.

The most frustrating is being a slow writer. I’m always amazed how other writers are able to finish their books so quickly while I’m still working on the same one.

RA: Do you belong to a writer’s group? Have you in the past?

DC: I belong to an award-winning group called the Jewels of the Quill. There are twelve of us and we all write in various genres. They have a monthly newsletter and giveaways. Here is their link for more information: JewelsoftheQuill.com. By the way, I’m Dame Morganite.

I used to belong to RWA and it was helpful in promoting my print books by getting reviews posted in their magazines. You have to be a RWA member to advertise in their publications. My membership has lapsed but I’ll probably join again.

RA: What would be the best advice you could give a beginning writer?

DC: Even thought I’m published now, it’s been a long road to publication for my books. Getting published has never been easy. But I made it with self-discipline, faith in my writing, family support, and determination. If you are an aspiring writer wanting to get published, hang in there. You have to continue to write and to believe in yourself. Writing is not a career for the weak. You have to be persistent and develop a thick skin when it comes to rejections. Remember this is a subjective business so don’t get discouraged.

RA: Time to get personal! Could you tell us about yourself?

DC: I’ve been married to the same wonderful guy for thirty-five years. We live in southwestern Ohio. We were blessed with six children – five daughters and one son. Two of our daughters were born with Down syndrome and live at home with us. They are wonderful but can be challenging, so we try to get away for a day or two once in a while by ourselves. I have a seasonal job in the spring and summer scoring tests that students hate to take.

RA: Time for a quirky, but interesting question: who’s your favorite artist, musician and First Lady, and why? (…actually, I slid in six questions, didn’t I? ** hee hee*)

DC: Thomas Kinkade is my favorite artist. Years ago I bought Christmas cards designed by him and fell in love with his artistic style. I have a framed picture of one of his scenes on my living room wall. It has this beautiful verse: “He has made everything beautiful in its own time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11. My favorite female musician is Kelly Clarkson. For male musician, Nick Lachey and favorite group is The Fray. Laura Bush is my favorite First Lady.

RA: And what’s next for you, writing-wise?

DC: I’m working on a story about a father and daughter, both teach at the same college in Virginia. The father is anxious for his daughter, Lexi, to get married and give him a grandchild. Lexi thinks her father needs to move on with his life. Her mother died three years ago on the way to the bridal shop to pick up Lexi’s wedding dress.

RA: Could you tell us what to expect in any other books you’ll be releasing?

DC: I also have a sweet story, “The Proposal’, in A Christmas Collection Anthology with three other authors. It’s available in print and ebook formats and the publisher is Victory Tales Press.

RA: Thank you so much for sharing with us. Good luck with your releases and please come back again soon!

DC: Thanks so much, Regina. I’ve enjoyed visiting on your lovely blog! Here is the prologue from A Christmas Gift. Happy Reading!

It was 1957 when I saw something that I wasn’t meant to see. I have never forgotten this night because it had such an impact on me. I was only seven years old, and what I saw my father doing confused me. Finally, I had enough courage to ask my mother about it. After she explained everything to me, I was shocked and saddened.

What happened after I learned my father’s greatest secret was extraordinary to our family. When my father, Justin L. Reeves, decided to conquer an overwhelming disability in life, he was fifty-four years old. He gave our family an incredible gift to last a lifetime because of what he accomplished at this age.

His triumph made me into the woman I am today. My three older siblings were able to make the best decisions of their adult lives because of our father’s influence.

This is a story of determination and hope. My father’s journey was not easy. But if it had been easy, I wouldn’t be telling his story now. After you finish reading this book, I pray that the true meaning will linger in your heart and mind; just as the outcome of my long ago memory has remained in my soul for fifty-three years.

My name is Debra Reeves Cunningham, and I am sixty years old. It’s not hard to take you back to the beginning in 1957 when I was seven. My life was good and simple. My memories of this wonderful year are crystal clear. We lived on a farm with eighty acres outside of Findlay, Ohio. My petite mother, Lucille, worked hard doing whatever needed to be done on the farm. She was a big help to my dad when it came to dairy chores. With no milking machines, they milked seven cows by hand in the morning and again in the evening.

My siblings didn’t help with this time-consuming job. My oldest sister, Gail, was twenty-five and lived at home, but not by her choice. Whenever she mentioned moving to an apartment, our mother insisted that wouldn’t be proper for a single woman. Gail worked as a secretary at the impressive Ohio Oil Company in Findlay. She always dressed in pretty clothes and went out on dates all the time.

My brother, Carl, at the age of twenty-one was in the Army, and he hated it. He wrote me the best letters. The past summer, we all traveled in our blue Mercury car to visit him in North Carolina.

Next in the family was my fourteen-year-old sister, Kathy. We shared a bedroom, and she never complained about sharing a room with a younger sister. She only worried about not being able to dance. From the time she was a small child, she wanted to be a dancer. She watched all the Shirley Temple movies and practiced on the kitchen linoleum floor. I was told how her dancing entertained me when I was a fussy baby with teething pain.

A short time after Kathy celebrated her seventh birthday, she was stricken with polio. She wore a brace on her left leg because the polio had weakened these muscles. Dancing was no longer a realistic dream for Kathy.

It’s time to take you back to the night when what I saw made me question everything. From my siblings, I learned that sometimes we see only what we want to see, and only face the truth when we can no longer deny it. I remember everything about that night so well. In my mind I see my bare feet softly walking down twenty-two steps. I enjoyed counting the steps and jumping off the last one.

It drove Gail crazy whenever she was in a hurry and behind me. “Why do you have to count these stupid steps all the time?”

“I like to count them. I always get twenty-two.”

And so on this particular night I counted them again. With no light on to guide my footsteps, I didn’t want to fall in the dark. I didn’t switch the hallway light on because it would shine through the register. My parents might wake up and see the light from their bedroom. Mommy liked to keep a door open for air circulation in their small room. I knew that I had to be very quiet since I wasn’t supposed to be up at this late hour. I skipped the jump off the last step so my parents wouldn’t hear me. With a racing heart, I slowly opened the old stairway door, hoping it wouldn’t make a sound.

Christmas Blog Contest: If you leave a comment on Regina’s blog, my other blog stops or my own blog, you’ll be entered in my drawing on Dec. 8th. I’m giving away a signed copy of A Christmas Gift or winner may choose my other Christmas release, an angel ornament, and a $10 GC. More details are on my blog: http://www.dianecraver.com/blog

Buying link for A Christmas Gift: http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Gift-Diane-Craver/dp/1936167360/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1289773725&sr=1-1

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RA: Hi, Shawna! It’s so nice to have you today. Could you tell us a little bit about your new release?
Sure, Regina. It’s called In All Things, and it’s the sequel to my debut release, No Other. This story picks up ten years later. Jakob and Meri have both gone on to accomplish all of their dreams only to find that it’s not quite what they’d hoped. There’s a void, and in order to fill it they have to revisit some unresolved issues from their past.
RA: What was the inspiration behind this work?
It was inspired from the same dream that No Other came from.
RA: How does this work relate to other works you’ve written?
In All Things is the sequel to No Other. It continues the story and I feel like there is a satisfying sense of completion at the end. The cover says a lot about the story, but it won’t make sense until you read it.
No Other primarily focused on Jakob and Meri, but this story deals a lot more with his family. There are some unexpected consequences that resulted from Jakob and Meri getting married so quickly in No Other, and we also find out why Jakob’s parents were interned, and how that affected people outside of his family.
This story deals heavily with Meri and her journey to Christ. There’s more detail to her back-story in this, and the book deals heavily in her struggle between becoming who she wants to be versus turning into the very thing she hates.
RA: Concerning the relationship between character development and story line, how do you proceed with these two aspects?
Tough question. So much of my story is character development. For me the character is what defines the story. I may have a sense of what the storyline is, but how it will play out to completion is very much determined by my character’s response to events within the story. I think an author has to allow room for this or else you end up with a puppet and not a believable character. I’ve also found that what helps with this is for the author to know the whole character’s story. Like flesh and blood people, a character is molded by events. That’s why I like to know my character’s story way before the book begins. In this book, In All Things, this was a little easier because much of the back-story was laid out in No Other. However, my characters have quite a back-story beyond that book too.
When I profile my characters, long before the writing begins, it goes far beyond hair and eye color, height, occupation, etc. Those are the least important if you ask me. It’s all surface stuff. To really dig into a character you need memories – experiences that mold and define – and you need both spectrums, as well as stuff in between. These are the things that a person draws on when facing choices. They guide the course.

RA: Do you deliberately coordinate the geographical setting with your primary theme when writing?
Not as far as geographic location goes. However there are some elements that might apply to aspects of the chosen locations. Jakob and Meri’s lives have become very privileged, as well as cluttered, and they live in Beverly Hills. Meri is an actress, active in the Hollywood scene. Conversely, half the story also takes place in Port Delemar (fictional town) which is where both Meri and Jakob grew up. A major theme in the story is that they’ve run away from certain things rather than deal with them, so the revisiting these issues starts with a trip home.
I use a lot of symbolism in my storytelling, and Jakob’s childhood home coordinates heavily with my theme. It becomes Jakob’s personal mission to see it restored. At the same time this is taking place within his family, which is still recovering from the lingering effects of their internment.
Meri’s journey is represented through other objects, like the locket and a brooch in this story, but she is also very much tied with the farmhouse. Very much!

RA: Lots of writers have issues with conflict. What was your process of developing and resolving the primary conflict in this particular work?
Almost all of my conflict is internal. I do have some external, but thus far it’s always been a secondary story to the personal journeys of my characters.
My process for this is to first work out a well developed back-story – one that goes far beyond the details revealed in the book. With Jakob, I worked out his family’s history all the way back to their immigration from Germany. He is of a dual culture, born in America, raised in a German home. He claims both cultures, speaks both languages, so in No Other, when these cultures clash, he has a major identity crisis. It’s very difficult for him to resolve why certain things have happened to his family. So that story started off with heavy emotional conflict right at the start. And it doesn’t get resolved. It gets better for a while, but then it gets glossed over. There’s still an underlying issue and that’s what In All Things comes back to explore for Jakob.
Meri is a whole other story. In No Other her background isn’t laid out in quite as much detail, but it is shown to have been pretty terrible. In All Things digs far deeper into this so the reader can see the pit she’s trying to dig out of.
The process I use for resolving this conflict is first to fully understand it. I do a lot of journal writing for my characters, where I ramble, in character, as to what they feel, what they think they need or want and how they plan to get it.
Then I pray, search for applicable Bible verses, and try to write what I think God would want for them.
Then I work on scenarios that might bring this about. Usually the first drafts are entirely too preachy because I’m trying to clarify the message to myself, but I go back and edit to try and make it so that the message is conveyed to the character, and not to the reader. I don’t want to pull the reader out of the book for a sermon. I want them to experience the spiritual growth of the character.

RA: Did the conflict in this work relate to any other of your works? How?
Very much so. In All Things is the completion of the story began in No Other. Jakob grew a lot in No Other. Meri’s growth was just beginning. The fact of the matter, though, was that they were two young people with tremendous baggage, caught up in a whirlwind romance that led to a speedy marriage and an instant family. One thing I tried to emphasize with Jakob in No Other was his desire to fix things. He felt he damaged Meri, and by golly he was going to take care of that. Same thing with his family, and his boys – born under less than ideal circumstances. His determination was to make sure that no one looked at Meri or his kids and thought the worst. Plus there was that promise he made to Roger and his pride was at stake. So, add ten years to Jakob’s life with those goals in mind and you get a better picture of him.
Meri’s has been traumatized by her parents at the end of No Other. Though, there had been things she’d witnessed throughout her life that were also quite traumatic. She never really knew how to process any of this emotionally. These were her parents. As much as she hates them, she still craves their approval – something every child wants — and she hates herself for wanting it and blames herself for not receiving it (a common psychological side effect from trauma and abuse, and one that’s not easily shed).
She’s made Jakob the focus of trying to heal, for coping with a number of things actually, and after ten years it’s just not quite working like it had in the early days they were together.
What you’ve got are a couple of career obsessed individuals who are learning that no degree of accomplishments can quite satisfy their longings. They have to stop trying to do it on their own.
There’s a Bible verse on one of the letters that Jakob gave to Meri in No Other that speaks to this, and Meri rediscovers that letter in this story. Takes her a while to fully comprehend though.

RA: There’s a saying, “write what you know”. What do you think of this? How does it apply, or not apply, to your work?
Well, I’m extremely introspective, overthinking and analytical. I like to understand thought processes. I’m sure I acquired this interest over trying to decipher my own, so in this regard, I am writing what I know.
Carl Jung and his theories fascinate me, and I’ve found the Myers Briggs personality typing to be of extreme interests. It’s been highly useful in guiding conflict within a story, because if you type your characters, you’ll see areas they’ll have trouble understanding.
For ex: When Jakob encounters a problem, his immediate response is to find a way to fix it. He feels that he’s helping his wife in this way. But for Meri, she feels like her emotional needs gets shoved aside in the “fix it” strategy – which makes her believe that her feelings are a nuisance that her husband wants to go away. What she needs is for him to listen to her and let her sort through her feelings on her own. Her response is to ignore his “fix it” strategy as she seeks to understand what she feels. He, in turn, feels his help is being rejected, leaving him dejected. Thus, the rift between them widens. See how complicated people can be!
RA: You’ve created many characters! Any particular favorites, and why?
This is such a hard question. I love both Jakob and Meri, but I also love David and Sadie, from my book that releases in December.
There is one character, though, who isn’t a main character (yet) that I adore. She was actually my daughter’s favorite, and that’s Ruth.
Ruth is funny. She’s straight forward, loyal and above all, wise. I haven’t ruled out a book devoted to her.

RA: Tell us please about the presence of both faith and evil in your work. How do you reconcile these two seemingly incongruous entities?
I do this several ways. I have internal struggle, and I try to weave scripture into the character’s thoughts as much as possible when they are confronted with evil. In my mind, though, I very much imagine a little devil and angel sitting on each shoulder as the character entertains one form of thought and then the other. I always start each as a new paragraph.
I also have people that are evil and acting to persuade my characters to their cause. This is far more prevalent in In All Things. There is one character who is representative of what Meri will become if she chooses one path, and another who represents the other choice.
I also use objects to symbolize good and evil.
RA: Many writers have discussed writing humorous scenes. What are your thoughts about creating humorous passages?
I don’t go out of my way to write it, but it makes its way in. People are funny. Our interactions with each other are often humorous. I think that characters become more real if there is some silly banter within the story. Having said that, the worst thing a writer can do is force it or go overboard. I hate to say, but I see this a lot, and instead of endearing the character to me it has the opposite effect. So, humor is great, just be careful. While it’s hard to admit, sometimes we aren’t as clever as we think. It’s really good to have someone who you trust to be blatantly honest on this matter to give your funny spots a once over.

RA: What would be the best advice you could give a beginning writer?
Well, I suppose I’ll retire my Captain Jack Sparrow quote in regard to writing rules. (They’re more like guidelines, anyway) Oops! That slipped out. Since it did, I’ll add that they’re guidelines you should follow, 98/99 % of the time – for the most part. 
I’m going to quote my answer from my ACFW interview because this is a real concern of mine.
“We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘write what you know.’ I think it’s equally important, if not more-so, that an author writes who they are. Yes, we have to learn the craft, pay attention to trends and whatnot. Those things are important. Just be sure that in doing so you don’t lose yourself. God gave you this calling because of who you are, and the best stories come from the heart.”
And every heart is unique! We start off with this dream to write because of this passion deep inside, and of course we want to get published, but I hope beginning writers will ask themselves which is more important; to write what you love, or to write to get published. There’s a difference. I’m not saying that they are exclusive of each other because obviously they aren’t. It’s just that it’s a tough journey and there are a lot of things to take into account while pursuing it.

RA: Time to get personal! Could you tell us about yourself?
I’m so boring! I pluck at a computer all day, and when I’m not doing that I string beads.
Apart from those things, I’m a Christian woman, who is also a wife and a mother of three. My life outside of my head gets a little more interesting once I’m pulled out of my room, away from the computer and bead stash. We have lots of critters: horses, mini horses, goats, rabbits, cattle, dogs, cats and a guinea pig. I’ve played midwife to our miniature horses and our goats. I like to hike. I also like to explore caves and abandoned structures if I think I won’t get arrested, shot or eaten. And I like to play games. I also enjoy learning about history and geology – a side effect of homeschooling.
RA: Time for a quirky, but interesting question: who’s your favorite artist, musician and First Lady, and why? (…actually, I slid in six questions, didn’t I? ** hee hee*)
Thomas Kincaid – I want to step into his paintings. I don’t listen to music very often, so I’m not sure (that’s terrible), Barbara Bush – straight shooter, wise and full of integrity.

RA: And what’s next for you, writing-wise? Could you tell us what to expect in any other books you’ll be releasing?
I have a Christmas novella releasing on December 1st. It’s called Orphaned Hearts. I’m also working on another book that’s a spin-off from No Other. There is the possibility that it could become a series.
RA: Thank you so much for sharing with us. Good luck with your releases and please come back again soon!

This is the prologue to In All Things. This takes place several months after No Other, but the main story picks up almost ten years after this.
March 17th, 1949
Meri crept into the bedroom after getting her baby boys down for the night. Eight months old and the twins were finally sleeping a full six hours in a row. Jakob lay sprawled out on top of the bed covers, listening to the broadcast of the Shamrock Hotel’s grand opening. He’d marveled over its architectural design during the final months of the building’s construction, saying it was a delicate balance of bulk and elegance, a modernistic French chateau. Whatever that meant?
At $42 per ticket, attending the event was beyond the realm of possibilities. She knew that he ached to see inside, though. Maybe after the hubbub died down, they could dress up and sneak into the lobby. Pretend to be guests as they strolled about.
Meri crawled onto the bed and snuggled close. “Anything interesting?”
“Oh yeah. This thing is huge. Did you know that’s Dorothy Lamour?”
Meri listened closely to the full-bodied, charismatic voice emanating through the airwaves as it introduced a host of celebrities — Errol Flynn, Ginger Rogers, Robert Preston.
“Wow, sounds like some party they’re having.”
“A little while ago she announced there were fifty thousand people outside the hotel. That can’t be right. Do you think?”
Meri shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe.”
Jakob rolled onto his back. Meri laid her head on his chest as he ran his hand through her hair. Neither spoke as they listened to the increasingly rowdy festivities. It sounded like champagne was flowing in abundance.
“You should be there,” Jakob said.
Over a year of marriage and the birth of their boys, and Jakob still punished himself as though he deprived her of something important. There was a strong possibility that her parents were at the opening. It was being touted as the biggest social event in Houston’s history, so her mother wouldn’t want to miss it. But Meri didn’t care. All she wanted was Jakob. He fulfilled her.
“No. I should be here with you.”
Miss Lamour broke out in song, and several not so talented voices joined in. Meri snickered.
“I meant that you should be a guest of honor, a celebrity — invited to celebrate.”
“Don’t be silly.”
He stopped playing with her hair and tipped her chin up toward him. “Let’s move to Los Angeles.”
“What?”
“I want your dreams to come true.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You want to be an actress.”
“Oh, Jakob. That doesn’t matter anymore.” She laid her head back onto his chest. “I’m a wife and a mother. You’ve got your job and school. Besides, we wouldn’t even know where to start.”
He lay still for a minute, and then his fingers ran through her hair again. “What if I figured something out?”
“Such as?”
“I don’t know yet.”
Meri giggled. She pushed herself up and kissed him on the lips. “I love you.” Jakob’s deep blue eyes held her gaze. Wheels were definitely turning in there. “What are you thinking?”
“I promise you, Meri. Somehow, I’m gonna make it happen.”
A buzz of drunken laughter crackled through the radio at their bedside, drowning out Dorothy Lamour as she continued in song. Then a single word burst through the noisy clamor.
Meri covered her mouth. “Did he just say…”
The broadcast cut off and static buzzed from the radio’s speaker.
She and Jakob looked at each other with widened eyes.
“I think so.” A smile covered his face. He wrapped his arms around her, and rolled her beneath him as they laughed. “I wonder how they’ll write that up in the papers?”
“As a warning against live broadcast in the excess of champagne.” Meri fought to catch her breath. “I can’t believe that happened.”
Jakob hovered over her with a gentle smile and tender eyes. She reached up and brushed his cheek with her fingers.
“Believe in me, Meri. Will you believe in me?”
It seemed so crazy. What did he plan to do? Knock on Louis B. Mayer’s door. This is my wife. She wants to be an actress. Yet, the conviction in his eyes overwhelmed all reason, and from her lips she heard the words, “I do.” And it was the truth.

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Steph: First off, I’d like to thank Regina for having me today. Just a little about me: I was born in New Hampshire and raised with a wicked New England accent. Wanting a grand adventure, I joined the US Army when I was 18 and was overseas 7 years in Germany. It’s a beautiful country and my husband and I shared our first date in the city of Giessen – at Pizza Hut. I married a fair haired California boy in 1991 in a small city called Nykobig in Denmark. The adventure over, I now work for LAPD as a 911 dispatcher and have two boys, 8 and 4.

Regina: Stephanie, it’s so nice to have you here today. Can you tell us a little about your new release?

Steph: “Shadows and Light” is a story featured in the Borealis II Anthology which centers around a space station in the future. It’s a science fiction romance. Elijah Kess and Persephone Talon are sent to the Borealis to investigate the Uudon Trade. When they discover they have the same assignment, will their attraction help or hinder their mission?

Regina: What’s the inspiration behind the story?

Steph: Well, I was given the basic plot so I found inspiration in the little things. First, I wanted to participate in the anthology and write a science fiction romance because it was something I hadn’t tackled before. I was very enthusiastic about the project. Elijah is more biblically inspired. He’s my “light” in the story. He looks angelic with his blonde curly hair and blue eyes. Persephone is inspired by Greek mythology. There’s also a little Savvik in her, as she possesses telekinesis and telepathy. Korn, Persephone’s bar, symbolic of the underworld, was inspired by the lithium grunge rock movement. (Think “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana.)

Regina: How does this work relate to others you’ve written?

Steph: That’s a toughie! I’m a historical, paranormal junkie. It relates in that it has allowed me to be creative with the setting and in establishing Persephone’s background. It’s allowed my creativity to thrive.

Regina: Do you deliberately coordinate the geographical setting with your primary theme when you are writing?

Steph: I try. This time the setting was given to me so I had to build around that. The overall theme is “Shadows and Light” is trust. While most of life on the Borealis is in the shadows, there are shades of grey in most dealings. Trust is an absolute. It is either given or not. If given, it allows for the rare light on the Borealis.

Regina: Lots of writers have issues with conflicts. What was your process of developing and resolving the primary conflict in “Shadows and Light?”

Steph: The conflict in the story is centered around opposition. Black and White. Good Guys vs the enemy. There has to be an event where it pulls the opposition close so trust can be established. –wink. And there is. There’s a lot of action in the story.

Regina: You are an author experienced in series writing. Tell us how series writing differs from stand alone work. What are the pros and cons?

Steph: With series, the characters linger and the reader gets a sample of happy ever after for the previous couple in the series. In stand alone stories you don’t get that peek into HEA. You know the couple will be happy, but you don’t get a hint what their HEA entails.

The pros, in a business sense, is that series generally generate more money than a stand alone. Look at the Twilight series for example.

Regina: There’s a saying, “Write what you know.” What do you think of this? How does it apply or not apply to your work?

Steph: My earlier work is more settled in New England. I’m not afraid to write about European locales because I’d been to most of them. That said, “Shadows and Light” is on a space station in the future. Who could know about that? It’s the emotions, which an author knows about, that makes the connection for the reader. So now, it’s not so much about the setting and more about the emotions.

Regina: You’ve created many characters. Any favorites and why?

Steph: Mihai and Theresa Sigmaringen from “The Wolf’s Torment.” I’ve worked with them the most and I know them very intimately. Mihai has to grow up and accept some uncomfortable truths about himself. It’s not easy. Of course, I have a fond spot in my heart for Persephone. She’s got the best toys and can move objects with her mind. How cool is that?

Regina: What do you do to renew and refresh your creative energy?

Steph: I try to get as much sleep as I can.

Regina: Tell us about faith and evil in your work. How do you reconcile these two seemingly incongruous entities?

Steph: Some aspect of religion is always in my stories. Faith is a part of life and not to work it into my writing would do a character no justice. It’s always behind my character’s choices. Elijah, from Shadows and Light, believes in the Greater Power, and that is instilled deep within him. It motivates him to support the Rebellion wholeheartedly. In my Budapest Moon series, Hungary is a Catholic nation and you’ll see the characters in that religion. In the Moldavian Moon series, Romania is Orthodox so you’ll see that religion play out against the choices the characters make.

Regina: Many writers have discussed writing humorous scenes. What are your thoughts about creating humorous passages?

Steph: We all laugh, and so must our characters. If the humor is appropriate for the scene, I love including it.

Regina: How long have you been writing? What’s the most rewarding aspect? The most frustrating?

Steph: I’ve been writing about ten years now. The most rewarding is knowing that someone else enjoys the stories. In “Shadows and Light,” the character of Vivian is inspired by my Internet friend, Vivian Melendez who lives in Buffalo, NY. She’s been reading my writing from 2002 on up and while I’ve never met Vivian in person, I adore her. She enjoys my writing from her heart and that means everything to me.

The most frustrating? Not being able to write faster.

Regina: Do you belong to a writer’s group? Have you in the past?

Steph: I belong to RWA and EPIC, bu I don’t take advantage of their groups like I should. I have my beta readers and my support groups, but no writing groups.

Regina: What would be the best advice you could give a beginning writer?

Steph: Have patience. This world is full of instant gratification so patience is a dying art, but it’s essential for a writer to have.

Regina: Time for a quirky but interesting question: Who’s your favorite artist? Musician? First Lady?

Steph: My favorite artist is Monet. My favorite musicians are the Beatles and my favorite first lady is Eleanor Roosevelt.

Regina: What’s next for you writing-wise?

Steph: I’ve got a Christmas short story coming out in “A Christmas Collection, Stimulating” with Victory Tales Press. It releases on 15 NOV. It’s called “Christmas in Bayeux.” Aiden goes to France and the Beaches of Normandy to meet with Noel, an old friend. Can she mend his broken heart?

In DEC 2010, I’ve got a horror short story coming out in the Ethereal Gazette, issue 12, put out by Lake Fossil Press. It’s called “The Scorpion Temple” and it has a Lovecraftian influence. It’s under my pen name, SG Cardin.

In FEB 2011, I’ve got book 2 of the Budapest Moon series releasing with Desert Breeze Publishing called “The Count’s Lair.” Count Anton Varga, a werewolf, falls in love with a beautiful pianist, Lady Amelia Andrassy. I have a prequel to this called “Moonlight Sonata” which is a free read coming out with Desert Breeze in DEC 2010.

I have another free read coming out with Desert Breeze called “Heart of Moldavia” and this is an intro to the Moldavian Moon series and “The Wolf’s Torment.” Theresa reaches out to Mihai in a dream. They’ve never met.

Regina: Thank you so much for sharing with us. Good luck with your releases and please come back again.

Steph: Thanks, Regina. Here’s an excerpt from Shadows and Light. Enjoy.

Excerpt:

Elijah Kess hated the stench of sulfur — and the space dock stunk of it. Other than that, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Two supply ships had just landed; one from Pith, and one marked with TPP symbols. Shadows refracted off his dark grey uniform. Beams of brilliant white light shined off his gold lieutenant rank square.

The hair on the back of his neck prickled. Something didn’t feel right. The air smelled off — the sulfur stench was thicker. The Borealis space station thrummed to the steady beat of business.

He glanced at the chronometer on his wrist. Thank The Greater Power it was time to go patrol the merchant area. He went to the personal access door and pressed his hand against the rectangular access panel.

“Lieutenant Elijah Kantor. Cleared,” came a metallic male voice. The door slid open with mechanical grace. He stepped through. Working deep under cover for the Rebellion, Elijah Kess had become Elijah Kantor. Fellow TPP Enforcer, Dax Hydron, waited for him.

“Hey, Kantor, ready to switch?”

“Yeah. The bay is clear.”

“The merchants are–”

“Get it off me!”

Elijah and Dax turned in the direction of the cry. A civilian dressed in a dark green overcoat ran past Korn, the latest bar to open on the main commerce level. He pushed several patrons to the ground as they exited. The civilian’s hair was stringy and greasy, his eyes bloodshot, and white foam spewed from the corner of his mouth.

“Bloody Hera! Uudon overdose?” asked Dax.

“Let’s hope he’s not contagious,” said Elijah. “Let’s go.”

Elijah took off at a sprint, Dax on his heels. The OD locked eyes with Elijah for a split second, then turned and ran. In that second, Elijah saw fear — primal fear. What could cause that?

His pulse rifle was attached to a suicide strap, but Elijah couldn’t fire it — not a good idea in a crowd of civilians. He slung it over his shoulder so the gun rested on his back. Civilians rushed to get out of the way. Elijah sidestepped the ones who had been shoved to the ground by the OD.

The OD slowed. Elijah pushed his legs to go faster, pumping his arms, keeping his eyes locked on his prey.

As the OD turned a corner, he shoved a woman right at Elijah. He took the extra second to push her away from him. “I’m sorry,” he muttered.

She nodded her head. Elijah sprinted off. That bastard was giving him a good chase.

Dax was three paces behind Elijah. The OD had collapsed. His breathing was labored, his eyes were blood red and white foam dribbled over his chin. A person in a dark cloak ripped off the OD’s sleeve. An obsidian patch, two inches in diameter, covered the OD’s bicep.

“Stop!” cried Elijah.

Startled, the figure bolted up. Elijah drew in a breath and took off in a sprint. The figure began to run away from the OD, but Elijah was faster. He tackled the figure — a woman, from the curves of her body. The patch went flying out of her hand.

Elijah reached for her wrists, pinning her against the floor. He could feel her body underneath his — warm, perfectly shaped. The cloak fell to the side, partially revealing her face.

She had the warmest chocolate brown eyes he’d ever seen. Round and wide — yet full of apprehension. She had thick raven-black hair, long, down to her mid-back. Her olive-toned complexion was flawless. For a second, he hungered to run his hands through the luscious mane of her hair.

“Who are you?” he asked.

She thrust her body toward his, taking his mouth with a kiss.

Stunned, Elijah allowed her lips to caress his. They were warm, sensual, tasting of honey.

“Persephone.”

Her voice in his head startled him.

Here’s a link to the Shadows & Light Story Teaser on You Tube:

Goodie Time: Leave a response and I’ll be back tomorrow, 3 NOV to pick two people to receive an autographed postcard of the Borealis II cover.

Answer this question: What is your favorite Science Fiction TV series and tell me why. I’ll pick a winner to receive a free copy of the Borealis II Anthology.

The Borealis II Anthology is available for Kindle, Nook, Sony Ebook Reader, All Romance Books and at Desert Breeze Publishing.

Here’s a link to the Borealis II Anthology on the Desert Breeze Site: http://stores.desertbreezepublishing.com/-strse-121/Borealis-Space-Anthology-Stephanie/Detail.bok

You can find me on the web at:

Website:

http://sgcardin.tripod.com

Blog:

http://sgcardin.blogspot.com

Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stephanie-Burkhart-Author/149938795021166?ref=ts

Romance Under the Moonlight

MATCHMAKING A-MUSE-MENT
BE MUSED, APRIL 2010
THE HUNGARIAN – MAY 2010 Desert Breeze Publishing

Visit me at:
http://sgcardin.blogspot.com
http://sgcardin.tripod.com

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