Monday, November 28, 2011

Interview Swap/Book Giveaway

Sherri Wilson Johnson also interviewed me for her website. I hadn't known when this week the interview would go up, but it turns out it's today. ;)  She's also giving away a copy of my book, Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld, to one commenter.

If you want to check that out, that's here:


Meet Sherri Wilson Johnson

Today I'm happy to welcome my friend and fellow OakTara author, Sherri Wilson Johnson, to my blog. Her novel, To Dance Once More, was recently released.

Hi! I am Sherri Wilson Johnson. I love to spend time with my family, ride roller coasters, eat ice cream, and read and write. Writing has been a hobby of mine since I was a little girl. As a young adult, I began writing Inspirational Romances, which quickly became my favorite pastime and grew into a calling. I took the writers course through the Christian Writers Guild and have never looked back. I write heart-warming Inspirational fiction (Historical and Contemporary) that challenges readers to have faith even in life's most difficult of storms. Pure Romance is usually the main theme of my books but they have so much more to them than just that. I love to sprinkle in suspense and mystery, as well. Although my primary focus is ministering to women readers, I am a former homeschooling mom so much of what I write is suitable for the Young Adult market.

My debut novel, To Dance Once More (OakTara), is set in Victorian-era Florida, bringing the romance of the beach, Victorian times, and debutante balls together (some of my favorite things). I hope to prove that true love still exists and that it is worth the wait. I never shy away from speaking candidly of the purity of not only the heroine but of the hero, as well, because I believe in today's world, we need to encourage both men and women to live pure lives. I believe that writing is so much a part of who I am that I must use it to share what I am passionate about. I desire to point others to Jesus through my words.

To Dance Once More: When Victorian debutante, Lydia Barrington, accidentally discovers that her father has promised her to the son of an unscrupulous businessman in payment for his own debts, she must make the biggest decision of her life…to concede or to fight. To Dance Once More explores the possibilities for a young woman, who longs to find God’s will for her life, yet is faced with a decision that will change her life forever. If she follows her heart, she disobeys her father; if she abides by her father’s wishes, she betrays herself.

My next book, Song of the Meadowlark (OakTara), will be out in May 2012 and the sequel to To Dance Once More should be out by the end of 2012. I am also polishing a third novel, After the Raging Storm, and working on a legal mystery and a sequel to Song of the Meadowlark. In addition to fiction, I also write homeschool resources and Bible studies, which I self-published, and are available on my secondary website I guess you could say that there will be plenty of books to read in the future and I would be honored if people chose them for their libraries.

* What was the major driving factor that led you to write your story/series?

I have worked with teenagers for years through volunteering at church. I have seen the pressures these teens go through to conform to the world and how they believe that love is the same thing as sex. I want teens everywhere, including my own two young adult children, to know what true love is.

* What do you hope readers will gain from reading your book? I hope my readers will come away from reading To Dance Once More feeling challenged to live a life of purity, encouraged to think of others before they think of themselves, and to never let a day go by without telling people how much they love them.

* What character would you most identify with? Lydia, the main character. She's a little on the mischievous side and it takes her a while to realize when she's being selfish. I deal with the same issues.

* What advice have you received that's had the biggest impact on your writing and who gave that advice? My writing instructor through the Christian Writers Guild, Norm Rohrer, advised me to "show, not tell" when writing. He said instead of using the words "was" and "felt" to find a way to demonstrate the character's feelings or actions. Also Gail Gaymer Martin advised me to replace "said" and "asked" with an action.

* Other than finding time, what was your greatest challenge while writing your book?
Besides my Chihuahua, my greatest challenge is staying focused on the project I'm working on at that moment instead of flip-flopping to other projects.

* If you could meet any author, past or present, who would it be and why?
James, the brother of Jesus, who wrote the Book of James in the Bible. He's full of spice and tells it like it is and I have learned so much from him.

Readers can find me on:

Sherri Wilson Johnson and Sherri Johnson Ministries
Amazon Link
Book Trailer

Friday, November 25, 2011

To brand or not to brand: that is the question.

I'm going to talk about branding in this post, and I think I'm going to do another post talking about career writing, because in some ways this has also got me thinking about writing in general.

First: branding.

I've been thinking about branding a lot lately. Many people say that authors need to stick to one genre, at least while they're establishing their writing careers. It makes sense, right? Readers will maybe read a book by you and like the type of book it is, so they'll look for or expect more like that. Certain agents or publishers only take certain genres.

Knowing this doesn't stop me from writing the stories that come from my heart or the characters that rampage through my brain. Sometimes I stop and think, "What if no one wants to read story C because they've read story A and liked it, and C is so different?" I shrug and move on with whatever I'm writing.

I have two books already published, and they're different from each other. Restoration Book 1: Awakenings is YA inspirational fantasy. Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld (Also Known as High School) is contemporary YA.

If I'm looking at it from a looking-for-a-brand perspective, I can go okay, two novels of different genres isn't so bad, and they're both YA. And I consider that my publisher is going to continue publishing the Restoration series, so there will be more YA inspirational fantasy to add to my writing resume.

Then I look at the finished manuscripts sitting on my computer. I have, almost ready to go for publishing or submissions or whatever I decide to do with these, the silliest, most fun story I've ever written, and the darkest, most intense story I've ever written.
My Kingdom for a Newt is a YA fantasy book, a mishmash of fairy tales and magic and very lighthearted. It was wonderful to write, the release my brain needed from the intensity of other stories I was writing. I had a blast and thoroughly enjoyed the characters. They were some of the easiest ones I've ever written.

In contrast, I have two books, Rising 1: Resistance and Rising 2: Rebellion. This is one story, but it was so long I had to divide it into two books. This Rising duology is considered secular adult fiction. It's also speculative fiction—not quite fantasy, not quite science fiction, and not quite steampunk, but hints of each. It has been loads of fun trying to pinpoint a genre here. These two books have consumed my brain for almost two years. The first book is written, polished, edited, and ready to go, but I'm not doing anything with it until I have a draft of the second book done. (I'm almost halfway done with this draft.) In these two books, I have pushed myself out of my comfort zones, made myself cry—and let me tell you how weird this is; I never make myself cry with my own characters, even when I write painful, heartbreaking things. I have been to the point of such frustration with the characters so many times because they have been the most difficult ones I've ever written.

So I sit here and look at the wild differences between these books. The only similarities between them would be that they both have fantasy elements. I've gone back and forth deciding which one I would want to come out first. Would I want to release the Rising duology first? Would I want to release the Kingdom story first, since it's quick and easy and lighthearted, and the last book I released was rather lighthearted? But if I do that, people might be in for a shock if I released the Rising books following that and people go, "Who are you and what did you do with the lighthearted author?" 

I love writing stories that address deep character issues. Sometimes these character issues come out in lighthearted ways, and sometimes it comes out in very intense ways.

And I have no idea what stories might come in the future.

Maybe I'm never going to be the writer with a brand. Maybe I'm going to spend the rest of my life writing whatever story and characters come to mind and maybe some readers will like some books and some will like others. Maybe I won't be popular or gain as many readers if I don't have a very specific set of books. 

So now I ask you all: Do you have a brand when you write? Do you want one? Do you read authors who write in several genres, or do you prefer to read authors who write only one thing? I'm very, very interested to know what all of you have to say on the subject.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


It is the end of Thanksgiving day here in the US of A. I spent time with my wonderful family, including my cousin, his wife, and kids, who came to town for the occasion. I hadn't seen them since 2006, so that was a lot of fun. I had lots of delicious food and too much coffee. (I'd say there is no such thing as too much coffee, but alas, my body says otherwise.)

I have so many things I am thankful for. I am thankful for my savior Jesus, for my supportive and amazing husband, for my beautiful children, for my extended family, for incredible friends new and old, for good health, for the second car we were able to buy this year so that I have a vehicle, for my house out of state selling, for a house to sleep in and food to eat and for all of the fun things I am able to have and do, and for coffee and a computer to write on and music to listen to. And for socks, because I do so like having something to help keep my feet warm.

And I'm so thankful to have gotten to know a lot of you fellow bloggers. I can't wait to see what the next year brings. I know I've said it before, but it's incredible to have a chance to be part of a writing community who is so supportive of each other.

I am so incredibly blessed.

I hope that all of you have been having a wonderful day, and happy Thanksgiving to those of you who celebrate that today.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


You guys. How is it already halfway through November? O_O It's a time warp, I tell you. Or a blue police box.

As I've started NaNoWriMo week 3, I have passed 40,000 words for the month and accomplished one of my goals: I've finished one of the three incomplete novels I had going before November. *throws confetti* One down, two to go. (And one of the two remaining is co-written, so it's shared work.)

What have you been up to during the first half of November? If you're doing NaNo, how's that going for you? If you're not doing NaNo, what have you been doing?

I still can't believe it's almost December.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NaNo: end of week 1, start of week 2.

I do not know how coherent I am going to be doing a blog, so I'll say that my brain feels something like this:

As I said before, I'm using NaNo to finish or make serious headway on stories I've already started, so I'm bouncing between novels and counting everything I write toward my NaNo words. It is day 8 and I have written 25,810 words so far this month.


I don't know what it is about NaNo--maybe so many people writing and so many of my friends writing so much that the part of me that loves writing challenges kicks into high gear--but it is a great time for me, personally, to reach goals I've been struggling with during the year.

Right now, my characters are all clamoring for attention and they won't. shut. up. This is a good thing, considering I've spent a good half of the year begging them to talk to me, but they won't shut up to the point where I haven't slept much this month and my eye keeps getting a twitch from lack of sleep. Or maybe all the caffeine.
NaNoWriMo is for some people; it works for some people, and if you're on the sleep-deprived crazy train with me, I'm sorry. Er, I mean GOOD FOR YOU! >_>

But if you are one of those lovely writers not participating, GOOD FOR YOU too! Part of writing is knowing what you want to do and what you're up for doing, and every single person writes differently. Last year, my pathetic attempt at a NaNo novel fell horribly flat, but it was good for me because I got back to work on the book I really wanted to finish.

So I'd like to take a moment to cheer on all of you doing NaNo--you can reach your goals!--and a moment to thank all of you not doing it for having patience with those of us who are.

You are all awesome. :D

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy First Day of NaNo!

For those of you not doing NaNo, HAPPY NOVEMBER!

For those of you doing NaNo, HAPPY NANO! How is your first day going? Feeling good? Excited? Nervous?

Since I'm "cheating" this year and working on projects I already have going, I'm doing my word count based off of anything new I write this month for those projects. So far today, that's only 150 words. ;) I'm off to a late start. My husband talked me through something this morning, preventing me from chopping 4,000 words that I wrote this weekend. Then he said, "It's like Disney said. Keep moving forward!" And that's what I'd already been telling myself. Keep moving forward, keep moving forward...

And look, someone has it on youtube! So for your first day of NaNo, here is your Disney moment of "keep moving forward" from Meet the Robinsons.

Or you could go with Dory from Finding Nemo and instead of saying "just keep swimming" say, "Just keep writing, just keep writing..."

You can do it!!