Author Spotlight: Carol Stratton and ‘Changing Zip Codes: Finding Community Wherever You’re Transplanted’

Today we’re getting to know Carol Stratton, author of Changing Zip Codes: Finding Community Wherever You’re TransplantedCarol has moved twenty-two times and has a passion for newcomers, “as I’ve been one many times.” She says, “I started out in the SF Bay Area and now live in North Carolina.”

Carol has kindly offered Roads Diverged readers a sweet slice of her book via the following devotional excerpt, All Dressed With Somewhere to Go.  Her bio and contact info. follow. Enjoy!

Changing Zip Codes CoverRejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not

be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and

petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Philippians 4:4-6 NIV

 

 

All Dressed With Somewhere to Go

Out in front of his Bible school, David Weaver perched himself on top of a suitcase that held most of his worldly possessions. Even though he was sure he wanted to be a missionary, he didn’t have next semester’s tuition. Consequently, he found himself moving out of the dorm room and onto the school’s front lawn.

If it had been me, I would have been kicking the side of my suitcase, calling home to cry on my mother’s shoulder, or writing a very self-righteous letter to the president of the school.

Not David. A man of strong faith, he sported a large smile and a positive attitude. He had tried every other means to raise funds and nothing had worked. So he just sat outside with a grin, knowing God would come through with a miracle.

 Maybe you need a housing miracle. It might be selling a home and finding temporary shelter before you can move on. It might be an affordable mortgage. But whatever it is, know that God is paying attention. Even though heaven seems mute, He has not forgotten your need. But our part is spelled out clearly in Philippians: we are to rejoice, rejoice again, and rejoice always. After we do that we are to present our requests to God in a thankful manner. So let’s review. Rejoice, rejoice again, and pray with thanksgiving—end of discussion.

But when we are talking about a major relocation in our lives, it’s a very difficult thing to do. That’s when we bring God our “sacrifice of praise.” It’s a sacrifice because we have to give up our normal way of handling things—whining, worrying, and stressing. But to use David as an example, getting our attitude right opens the door for God to work. Want to hear the rest of the story?

As David perched outside the administration building, a lady from the office ran out to tell him they’d found him a place to stay. Two bachelors had a room in their house and David could room there for free. In addition, the house was right behind the school, within walking distance.

As he hauled his gear into his new home, the phone rang. One of the owners picked it up and with a puzzled look, motioned to his new roommate, “It’s for you.” Someone from the school’s office had called to tell him there was a job available and he’d better get over there, pronto. David explained how he was in a grubby T-shirt and jeans, but the caller insisted he needed to get there immediately. He rushed over to the employment office. Standing in line with other applicants, he felt foolish in his grungy work clothes among the suits and ties of the other young men. Suddenly he saw one of the interviewers pointing at him. “Hey you, come up here right now.”  Shocked, he walked to the front of the line. “I need someone in construction and see you are dressed for work. Can you start right away?David shook his head in amazement. In one day he’d gone from being homeless to landing a good roof over his head and a job. What an awesome God.

Today as we feel overwhelmed with a move, let’s remember God does pay attention. Our part is to keep a faithful attitude. You might try pulling out a suitcase and putting it by the front door as a reminder that God does provide.

Taken from the book: Changing Zip Codes: Finding Community Wherever You’re Transplanted

Published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Available at Amazon.com http://tinyurl.com/ox3nxrj

***

Carol Stratton PhotoCarol G. Stratton has been a freelance writer and speaker for over a decade in publications including  InTouch magazine, CBN.com, Kyria, Forsyth Women Magazine and the Grand Rapids Press as well as two anthologies, Writing so Heaven Will be Different (Wine Press) and Extraordinary Answers to Prayers (Guideposts).

She speaks to MOPS and other women’s groups about life transitions and personality temperaments. She is currently under contract for a women’s inspirational novel called Lake Surrender.

Contact Carol at: carolgstratton@gmail.com or through her website: ChangingZipCodes.

You can also find Carol on Facebook at Changing Zip Codes, or on Twitter at @CarolGStratton.

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Interested in being  a featured author? Shoot me a comment. Tell me a bit about yourself and your work. I’ll get back to you by email. (Anonymous comments will not receive a response.)

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Author Interview: John Lucas

Today we’re getting to know John Lucas, marriage and family therapist and author of Power and Intimacy in Relationships.  John and I first met when we were both students at Biola University. As you can see, he’s been busy ever since!

Where do you live?

Murrieta Ca.  1 hr north of San Diego.

Tell us something about yourself.

I grew up in San Jose and then San Diego.  When I was younger I liked playing golf.  In my 20’s I became interested in Christianity.  Once I became interested in Christianity I also found myself more interested in people and wanting to help others improve their lives.  Those desires lead me to becoming a Marriage and Family Therapist.  As a young married man I started working as a mailman down in San Diego with a goal to going to night school.  I ended up working as a mailman for 17 yrs.  After graduating from San Diego State we moved up to Murrieta and I started working as a counselor.  The idea of writing a book started a few yrs ago.

What inspired you to write this book/article/piece?

Developing some ideas to help the married couples I work with drove me to put them into words.  I was also led to a small local publisher who liked my ideas and wanted to help me.  That publisher gave me the confidence that I could put them into words.  My oldest sister, who goes by the pen name of Linda Conrad, has written several small romance novels and that helped me believe I could write a book as well.

How did you choose the title?

The title was something that took some time to work out.  I wanted the title to reflect my principles and at the same time help the reader understand the concepts of the book.  I shared an earlier title with people and did not get such a positive response.  After talking with my editor, we came up with a revised title.

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

After writing a large portion of my book, the local publisher said he wasn’t interested in publishing books.  He said I might do better with self-publishing.  I was down hearted.  Little did I realize it was a blessing.  I found a private editor off the web.  I had to come up with the money for an editor and that was challenging but she allowed me to pay in increments.

In using my own editor I was allowed to see the material chapter by chapter.  That slow process over several months actually worked out well.  I was able to rethink my material and redo my ideas.  My editor knew I was a new writer and she was able to be patient with me as I redid major portions of the material she already edited.  She first started by editing the material conceptually.  Once we had the concepts down she went back over the material and edited it grammatically.  Amazon does a great job with little cost to help writers publish their material.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I have always been somebody that likes to dream, and create through ideas.  That is part of what I like about my job as a counselor.  I am able to think about ideas and concepts and try to apply them in daily life.  That process is very similar to writing.  While working with my clients I would share my ideas and concepts with my clients.  They in turn would ask me if there was a book out there that I would recommend that covered those ideas.  Since there wasn’t, I decided to make one.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I like to be alone and have long periods of time.  Unfortunately that wasn’t always the case.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book?  What?

One, I learned that editing is the most critical part of writing.  I spent 6-8 months writing my book and 8-10 months working with an editor.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

I was lucky and wouldn’t change a thing.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

I like self-help books.  I like to grow and it also helps my work.  I like John Maxwell, Chuck Swindoll, Cloud and Townsend.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

This power and intimacy formula can be applied to various areas of our lives.  I am considering the areas of parenting, addictions, work, and church.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

As I mentioned before, editing is crucial.

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

The perfect reader for my book is someone that would like to improve their marriage and would like some simple format that fits both a psychological and Biblical model.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

Visit John on-line at Lighthouse Counseling Services.  To find out more about his book, check out Power and Intimacy.

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Interested in an author interview?  Leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

Up next: What Makes You a Writer? followed by How to Avoid Sneezing By Email.  See ya soon!

Author Interview: C.J. Edwards

Today we’re getting to know J.C. Edwards, author of Poems of Living, Loving and Lore. Even if poetry isn’t your thing, give this one a chance. Like a finely aged wine, J.C.’s work is  rich, full-bodied and mature.  Her thoughtful, evocative collection includes reflections on relationships, gratitude, seasons, holidays, love, loss, and much more!
Sensitively written with a commanding grasp of the language, Living, Loving and Lore surprises and delights, artfully drawing in readers with rhythms that are supple and subtle as well as solid and intense.
A resident of British Columbia, J.C. also has a compelling life story.  Let’s get to know her a little better:

Your name:

J C Edwards Profile Pic 2Julie Catherine Vigna, my pen name is J C Edwards.

Where do you live?

I live in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. I was born in Ontario and lived there until 2004; moved out to BC, then to Alberta – both for family reasons – then in October of this year, finally made my way back to BC – the home of my heart and soul. I missed the mountains and water terribly, and felt so welcomed when I returned. They are my muses, the source of my inspiration.

Tell us something about yourself.

Born Julie Edwards, I’m fifth of eight siblings, and I am a survivor of childhood abuse. My brothers and sisters and I were adopted out to various families as young children – in 2007, after more than 45 years we were finally reunited in Alberta just months before our youngest brother passed away from pancreatic cancer.  Although we now live scattered across Canada we are blessed to be together again. My pen name, J C Edwards, is a combination of my birth and adopted names: Julie Catherine. I always knew that when I published, it would be under that name. I’ve been writing, drawing and painting ever since grade three, love antiques and all of nature. Being near water of any kind is inspirational and makes my soul sing.

What inspired you to write this book/article/piece?

While I’ve always written poetry, I didn’t think to put together a collection until I was forced to retire from the workforce for medical reasons at Christmas, 2010. It helped me to deal with a drastic change in lifestyle, and gave a brighter purpose to the long days between medical appointments and dealing with disability applications.

How did you choose the title?

Poetry Book CoverI love the title, “Poems of Living, Loving & Lore”!  I wanted it to be very clear this is a poetry book; something a little ‘old-world’ to match the book cover and the classical feel of the poems, and wanted the three sections of the book to be included in the title.

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

I didn’t want to go the traditional publishing route with this book and decided to self-publish because I wanted to publish within months rather than years; however, I only had a tiny budget for printing, and none at all for promotion. I have a friend, Selena Howard who is a poet and artist, and she did the beautiful cover for me – in return I sent her a gift of art supplies and a copy of my book. I’m an editor as well as a writer, so was able to do most of that myself, although I also had a couple other people do a run-through as well. I’ve been promoting my book on social sites, my blog, and as many other avenues as I can find that have little or no cost. I was interviewed by our local television station and did poetry readings at our local library and schools. The rest has been entirely word of mouth.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer, and have always written poetry and short stories. I also have two novels in the works that are at least a year away from being completed. When I knew I would have time to devote to my writing, I consciously made the decision to begin with a poetry book because of the shorter time involved in producing it. I worked on my poems for a year before I had enough for a volume of poetry. I just literally made a decision to do it, researched various print-on-demand publishers, made my choice, and then jumped in the deep end.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I often meditate before writing poetry, especially if I have a particular theme in mind. I also enjoy listening to classical music, both during the meditation and while writing.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book?  What?

If you want something badly enough, and want it done well, you have to do the work to make it happen. I learned that the promotional part is indeed more work than the actual writing of the book; and because of my physical disabilities, I have to be innovative in finding ways to promote myself and my book. Book fairs and signings and travelling are not feasible for me because of mobility issues, so most of my promotion has been online and word of mouth. But if you understand and commit to what you’re able to handle and do the work, it is possible to make your dream come true.

 

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

I’m pretty satisfied with the way things were handled with the publishing of my debut poetry book, so will likely follow a similar path with my next collection. The only thing I would do differently might be to concentrate on promotion earlier than I did with this book – and hopefully have more of a budget to work with!

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

I have eclectic tastes and love to read practically anything! I’m currently reading a romantic suspense novel, a Christian novel and a spy novel in paperback form. On my e-reader I’m reading a poetry collection and a historical fiction novel. I have a huge love of all the classical writers such as Shakespeare, since that’s what I grew up with. I also love Tolkien and his Middle Earth worlds – I’m a huge LOTR and Hobbit fan. These are worlds and stories I can positively get lost in, with amazing characters and incredible scene descriptions. Another of my fav authors is Marion Zimmer Bradley – her book, The Mists of Avalon (and that entire fantasy series) is one I will read over and over and never tire of.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I have a few projects on the go right now, including a new poetry collection tentatively titled, “Essence of Woman”. The poems will cover every aspect of what makes us women, but I don’t want to say too much more about it just yet. I also have two novels in the works: a middle-grade adventure/mystery set in Georgian Bay, Canada, where I spent a few summers; and a contemporary romance novel. It will likely be at least another year before they’re ready, either for self-publication or submission; I haven’t decided which way to go yet. And yes, all my projects are completely different from each other – I don’t think I’ll ever be pinned down to just one genre!

*What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Once you’ve done the writing, let the book ‘rest’ for awhile before going back to edit. Proof, proof and proof again – if you can’t afford an editor, then at least have a couple of people with excellent spelling, grammar and punctuation skills to proof for you as well. Do not be in a rush to submit your manuscript until you are absolutely positive it’s the best quality you can produce. Don’t settle for mediocre – strive to be the best you can be and take pride in your work. Your readers will appreciate that as well and it will show in your reviews.

Who is the perfect reader for your book? (Please do not say “everyone.” ;o) )

Poetry lovers, especially those interested in classical forms of poetry, mythology, fairies, nature and romance would enjoy reading these poems. Although there are a few poems that deal with harsher realities of life, I have attempted to keep the bulk of the collection upbeat and positive, preferring to focus on the beauty of life, love and nature.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

Poetry Book Page

J C Edwards Page

Amazon  (Paperback & Kindle)

Barnes & Noble (Paperback & Nook)

Xlibris  (Paperback)

Visit Julie On-line:

Julie’s Blog

Twitter

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Next up: What ‘Writing Contest’ is – and Isn’t.  Also an author interview with John Lucas, author of Power and Intimacy in Relationships.

I am now scheduling author interviews for February.  If you’d like to be featured, just leave a comment in the Reply section below.

Author Interview with Terry Whalin

Put the kettle on or add some ice to that lemonade.  Now’s your chance to get to know linguist, multi-published author and editor extraordinaire W. Terry Whalin, author of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and over 60 other titles.  Put your feet up and enjoy this an engaging, informative glance “behind the scenes” with this talented writer:

Author and Editor W. Terry Whalin.

Where do you live? Irvine, California

Tell us something about yourself.

In high school, I was introduced to writing. It’s a story I tell in the opening chapter of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams (available free here.)  I wrote throughout high school and college. While studying journalism at Indiana University, halfway through my sophomore year, I had a life changing experience with a book. The full story is captured in a brief article called Two Words That Changed My Life. The direction of my life changed from journalism to linguistics. I spent 10 years in linguistics and 17 years with Wycliffe Bible Translators. I returned to my writing over 20 years ago and began to write for different print publications. I learned to write a query letter and I’ve written on assignment for over 50 magazines. In 1992, my first book was published—a little children’s book called When I Grow Up, I Can Go Anywhere for Jesus (David C. Cook). It is long out of print but launched my writing life into books. I’ve written more than 60 books for traditional publishers.

What inspired you to write Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams?

For many years, I’ve been teaching and attending various writers’ conferences. I meet writers who have huge ambitions with their writing yet no idea how to achieve those writing desires. In today’s competitive marketplace to get published, you need three elements. First, you need the insider knowledge about how book editors, magazine editors and literary agents work. If you don’t understand their needs, then you will never be able to meet their expectations. Second, you need the skills to provide those publishing professionals with what they need. Finally you need to bring strong storytelling skills to your writing. You will find a mixture of story combined with practical skills and how-to information inside the pages of Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams.

How did you choose the title?

I tested my title and subtitle in the marketplace. Many people guard their title as secret when I believe they need to test it and see if it resonates with their audience. I love the word Jumpstart because that’s what writers need to move forward with their writing. I used Publishing Dreams because many people have these sorts of ambitions but don’t even understand how the nitty-gritty of publishing works. I use the word publishing in the broadest use of the word inside my book. Finally I included a subtitle which emphasized a key benefit for my book: Insider Secrets to Skyrocket Your Success.

Do you have any writing rituals?

What a good question. In the computer world, I strongly dislike staring at a blank page. To solve this matter and simply get started, I’ve created a simple file that I call an “article header.” It contains all of the information at the top of a typical magazine article: name, address, word count, rights, and about halfway down the page: the title and my name. I pull this information into my file—and start revising it and almost instantly typing. It works for me and keeps me from getting stalled.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book?  What?

With each of my books, I have learned a great deal. For Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams, much of the basic material began with a set of random blog entries at my blog, The Writing Life.  I have over 1,000 entries in this blog. I grouped the contents together into different sections. It required drastic rewriting to take the random material from a blog and turn it into chapters in a book.

Also with this book, I learned to include cartoons throughout the book to lighten the contents and also break up the print. Finally with each chapter, I made a point to give the reader even more information than was in each chapter. The final pages of each chapter include a section called “Dig Deeper” which leads the reader to resources outside of the book on the same topic of the chapter. Also I included a section called “Awaken Your Dreams” which asks the reader several pointed questions so they can apply the contents of the chapter to their own writing life.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

Instead of working on another book, I’m helping others get their books published through my role as an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. Known as The Entrepreneurial Publisher, Morgan James is actively publishing nonfiction and has recently launched a fiction line. Learn more about the company here.

I’m actively looking for great pitches and proposals which writers can send to me directly at my work email: terry@morganjamespublishing.com. If you don’t know what is a good pitch or proposal, I recommend you learn before pitching and I have some resources for this as well at Ask About Proposals. Also I have an online course on the topic at, Write A Book Proposal.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

The majority of writers approach their craft backwards. They believe the best way to make an impact on their world is through a printed book—which from a traditional publisher who pays an advance and royalties—is one of the most difficult to attempt. Books take a long time to get into print. Even after you get a contract (which can take years), most publishers take 18 to 24 months to bring that book into the market. Writers labor over the long form without thinking about shorter writing.

My best advice is to write for printed magazines. These publications have a higher standard than online magazines for quality and good storytelling. Magazines have a much quicker turnaround of three to six months from when accepted. Plus you can reach many more people with your magazine work than you can with a book. A good selling book may sell 5,000 copies during the life of the book. You can easily reach 100,000 or 200,000 people with a short magazine article. Book editors and literary agents are looking for writers with experience—and one of the best ways to get publishing experience is in the magazine world. I continue to write for different magazines. You can learn my basics for this type of writing at Terry’s Basics.

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

My perfect reader is any writer who feels stuck in a place with their writing and wants to move to a new level of excellence. Or maybe they have been in the writing world for some time and want some fresh ideas. Check out this review: http://bit.ly/AiF0QF and it will show you that experienced and new writers alike gain valuable insight from my book.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams is available in bookstores all over the country. Check with your local bookstore to see if they have it. Or you can order it directly from me and get it autographed at Jumpstart Dreams.  To learn more about me, I recommend you check out my personal website, or subscribe to my blog on The Writing Life.  I have a lot of free resources and helps online for anyone who wants to learn more about writing and publishing. For example, check out Ask Terry Whalin.

Follow Terry on Twitter.

Download Terry’s free ebook, Straight Talk from the Editor.

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Interested in an author interview? 

Ready to join our avalanche of writers helping writers? 

Find out how here.

Author Interview with Kathi Macias

Today we’re getting to know Kathi Macias, author of Special Delivery.

Where do you live?

Homeland, CA (midway between LA and San Diego but a bit easy)

*Tell us something about yourself.

Kathi Macias, author.

I was born and raised in Southern California (Ventura) and still live fairly close by (in Riverside County now). My husband, Al, and I met when we were six years old and grew up just a few blocks from one another, ending up as junior/senior high sweethearts. When we were in junior high I told him I was going to be a writer some day, so writing has long been my passion and my dream. I’ve been in the Christian publishing world (with a journalism background before that) for over thirty years now, with forty published books and many more on the drawing board. I also do a lot of public speaking, traveling across the nation (and beyond) to teach writing and to lead women’s conferences and retreats.

What inspired you to write this book/article/piece?

Special Delivery is the second of three books in the Freedom Series, a fiction trilogy based on human trafficking. I am known for writing issues-related fiction and was just finishing up my previous Extreme Devotion series about the persecuted Church when my publisher challenged me to consider writing the next series on human trafficking. I did some initial research and was stunned at how widespread and horrific it is, so I quickly agreed. The first book in the series, Deliver Me From Evil, is a finalist for the Golden Scrolls Novel of the Year Award.

How did you choose the title?

I wanted to use the word “deliver” in each of the three titles: Deliver Me From Evil, Special Delivery, and (coming in August) The Deliverer. It is important to me that, despite the dark topic of human trafficking, my readers will know that I’m focusing on the Light that shines in the darkness, rather than the darkness itself.

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

There weren’t any because it was contracted before I wrote it. But I certainly ran into many obstacles in the early days of publishing. Though I had training as a writer, I didn’t know the ins and outs of book publishing and had to learn all that. Also, those rules have changed over the years/decades since I’ve been writing, so I have to stay abreast of changes—including getting agents and publicists and building a platform, none of which was necessary when I first started publishing in the ’80s.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I think I knew it from the moment I discovered words. I took classes in high school and later in college (journalism, creative writing, English, even drama to help with creating believable characters). I worked for next to nothing as a newspaper columnist in a tiny local paper and also doing “string reporting” (meaning the paper called me when all their “real” reporters were busy). I submitted articles to magazines, newsletters, anywhere I could (paid or not) to build my resume and credibility and experience. It took several years of that before I secured my first book contract, which came about because I landed a part-time, entry-level, low-paying, no-benefits job at a publishing house. It was a wonderful foot in the door!

Do you have any writing rituals?

Not really, though I do get up “dark and early” so I can have some alone, quiet time with the Lord before diving in. Because I live on the West Coast and my publishers and agent are on the East Coast, I have to be awake and alert by the time they’re in their offices and ready to work. I also do a lot of early morning radio shows back East, meaning I may be on the phone doing interviews at 4 or 5 AM my time. I do shut down fairly early, though—4 or 5 PM at the latest, with few exceptions—so I can have some quality time with my husband when he comes home from work.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book?  What?

This entire Freedom Series has opened my eyes to the horrors of human trafficking around the world. As a result I have become an activist in the movement to abolish modern-day slavery. I do radio and TV and personal appearances, speaking on the subject and challenging others to get involved, every chance I get.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

I would have caught the “marketing train” earlier than I did. It nearly passed me by, as I was from the old school where authors left the marketing and publicity to the publishers. Not so anymore, so I had to play catch-up and jump onboard before I got left behind.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

I love nonfiction Bible studies that REALLY challenge me to go deeper. I want the fiction I read to do the same. I’m not much on romances or beach reads (though I know a lot of people love them, and that’s fine). I like issues-related fiction (“fiction with a mission,” as my main publisher calls it). I call it “parables with purpose,” which is what Jesus used to confront and challenge and change His listeners.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

Book three of the Freedom series (The Deliverer) is done and will release in August 2012. In October 2012 my Christmas novel, Unexpected Christmas Hero (already done and dealing with homelessness in America) will release, followed by my new Patches of Courage Series, the first of which is called The Moses Quilt. (All of these are from New Hope Publishers.) It is a contemporary novel but built around a patchwork quilt that tells the story of the courageous and faith-filled life of Harriet Tubman. I have just completed that one, and it will release in January 2013, just in time for Black History Month. Then, in Spring 2013, Last Chance for Justice, part of the multi-author Bloomfield Series from B&H Publishers, will release (it’s also done). I am just about to start the next book in the Patches of Courage series, and it will be called The Christmas Quilt (releasing in October 2013). It deals with the issue of abortion.

*What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Be patient, be persistent, stay focused! This is a very tough profession, and many give up along the way. Take your time and hone your craft. Go to writers’ conferences. Join a critique group. Learn all you can and be disciplined to apply it. There are no easy shortcuts, so we must be willing and committed to doing our best and to representing our Lord honorably in all we do along the way.

Who is the perfect reader for your book? (Please do not say “everyone.” ;o) )

My primary readers are Christian women between the ages of 20 and 50, though older women and some men read them too. I also have a secondary following of older teens because I usually include at least one main character in my books who is somewhere between 15 and 20. I use those characters to challenge young people to rise above the average and mediocre and to believe God has called them to greatness.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

I would love it if they would stop by my websites, Kathi Macias, or Bold Fiction.  You can also find me at my blogs, Kathi Easy Writer Macias and the Titus 2 Women.

Read For Your Life

Today we’re getting to know wordsmith, researcher, editorial assistant, collaborative author and free lance writer Peggy Matthews-Rose, who co-authored Read For Your Life with Pat Williams.

Tell us something about yourself

As far as this book is concerned, many may find it interesting that the two authors live on opposite coasts of the U.S. We’d met at a Christian booksellers conference several years before and collaborated on several projects, including the book How to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life (HCI, 2004). Pat Williams lives in Orlando, Florida. I live in Orange County, California. The entire process of collaborating on this book was done by phone, email, and snail mail.

What’s most interesting about us? Pat happens to be founder and Senior Vice President of the Orlando Magic NBA basketball team, father of 19 children (yes, you read that right), author of more books than I can count, and most recently a cancer survivor. Diagnosed in early 2011 with multiple myeloma, Pat is characteristically beating it back, thanks to an amazing stem cell transplant procedure.

My own claim to fame is a little less spectacular, though saying I worked at Disneyland for many, many years—about half of them in communications roles—and about $3 gets me a nice drink at Starbucks. Today I freelance as a collaborative writer, editor, and general, all-around word nerd.

What inspired you to write this book? Pat is well known in his circles as a prolific reader. And prolific may not be a strong enough word to describe his habits. Obsessive may be more like it. As for me, I’ve always enjoyed a good read. A writer for about as long as I can remember, I found that reading great writing helped me improve my own.

An in-demand motivational speaker, Pat always puts in at least two-bits on reading into his messages, and always extends to his audience his reading challenge. He is always impressed by how many, especially men, would come up to him afterwards, admitting they needed to read more. Many letters he’s received attest to the fact that the message resonates.

One day, Pat read an NEA report that revealed the abysmal state of reading scores in our schools. A little more research told him most men never open a book after graduating high school or college. These facts, along with the response his reading message continues to receive, told him it was time to finally take his message to a book of his own. I was blessed at that time to be his choice as writer.

How did you choose the title? We brainstormed it, beginning with a list of anything and everyone we could think of about reading. For me, it was a visual thing. Although the final cover art ended up not reflecting what I saw in my mind, I envisioned Pat as a runner (he is a marathoner), handing out books like water bottles to fellow runners who were passing out on the sidelines. Hence, Read for Your Life.

Another thing to consider in choosing book titles is whether or not the one you like most is already out there. While book titles are not copyrighted, you wouldn’t want to pick one that might make yours more difficult to sell. Many readers say they pick a book by either the cover or the title, so those two things matter a lot!

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them? As always, the number one obstacle is finding a publisher. Thankfully, Pat came to this project with one of those already lined up. Subsequent books I’ve done with Pat have been more challenging, but there really were no major hurdles where this book was concerned. If only they could all be this way! Biggest challenge, perhaps, was that the pub date was pushed back a few times. Gave me more time to work, so not really a challenge, other than in terms of patience. Is that cheating to say it wasn’t all that hard? Maybe so.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

Pat is a natural born communicator. But it was after he’d spent a number of years in professional sports and was being recognized as an up-and-coming general manager for the Chicago Bulls that he was first approached with the idea of doing a book. The man who came to him was a young fellow by the name of Jerry B. Jenkins. Well, that book never happened, but Pat did get the “book writing bug” and learned about hiring a wordsmith to help him get his books done. Not sure what the current score is, but I imagine his books today number 70 or more. He is a non-stop book machine.

As I said in an our interview re: How to Be Like Walt, I knew I wanted to write the first time a grade school teacher read one of my stories out loud. In junior high I was bit by the journalism bug and served as staff writer and/or editor of about four different school publications though college. My professional start came when I interned for a staff writer job at Disneyland and was hired fulltime shortly after that. I edited the “cast” newsletter and an internal magazine for several years and worked briefly at Walt Disney Studios later on.  Following a few years of semi-retirement (aka being a full-time mom), I returned and worked in similar roles.

Then one day I read this little gem of a book called Roaring Lambs, by the late Bob Briner. It challenged me to see if I could do this “writing thing” on my own. Thanks to the opportunities God has brought my way, I’ve been able to work on some great projects over the past ten years or so since I cut those corporate apron strings.

Truth: making a living as a writer is tough, so don’t do it for that reason. I’ve learned you don’t need to be a John Grisham to be a writer, just to be one with an income you can survive on. To be a writer, you just have to write.

Do you have any writing rituals?

Minimum page a day, any topic, just to stay in the zone and keep the juices flowing. Years ago in an online writing class I learned about a technique called “stepping stones” that coaxes your imagination to pull memories and stories from your life. Haven’t done that one in a while but it’s a great habit to develop.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book?  What?

I learned I could write a book! Woohoo! That was huge.

And there were many other lessons…like how bad the literacy situation really is and what each of us can do to both become more literate and encourage greater literacy. It’s “literally” true that we must read for our lives. The recent passing of Ray Bradbury brought back this message from his flagship work, Fahrenheit 451. Those who can read ultimately have power over those who cannot. Be empowered. Read daily. Lots of tips on “how to” in this book. By the way, F451 played a prominent role in Read for Your Life.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently? Can’t think of a thing. The whole process was pretty smooth. I imagine that is not usually the case. Maybe I would worry less. When I wrote this book I kept my laptop on my nightstand, since ideas would always come to me while I was trying to go to sleep. Now I’ve got an iPad for that purpose. Recommend.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

Peggy Matthews-Rose

I’ve always lived in Fantasyland, literarily. Love children’s classics (especially Peter Pan), C. S. Lewis’s Narnia books, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. One of the first big books to make a huge impression on me as a teenager was T. H. White’s The Once and Future King. Wonderful work. Good enough to inspire a Disney movie (The Sword in the Stone) and  a musical (Camelot). These authors all knew how to grab hearts and imaginations. They didn’t write down to the child but well understood and spoke to the child inside us all.

When my son was little we started “family reading hour,” devoting time each night to a classic book of some kind. Today, though my son is grown and has a daughter of his own, my husband and I continue to read books together. That’s a great habit to develop. Together, we like to read books on American history, biblical topics, and the current political scene.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

No urgent books in the works right now, though I am in talks with several potential writing partners.

*What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Write because you love it. Write because you cannot not write. Write every day, because it’s who you are. If you happen to get published, praise the Lord! But write because you love it and not because you want to be “in print.” If being read matters to you, write a blog…and then make sure to send the link to your mother.

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

The perfect reader for our book is someone who hasn’t yet realized the importance of reading, though we recognize that this is not the likely reader. After all, how do you get people who don’t like to read to read a book about reading? But our hopes from the beginning were to encourage reading and from the letters and comments we’ve received, it seems to be hitting that mark.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

Pat Williams

Those who’d love to improve their own reading skills and/or encourage others to do so may find our book on Amazon.com: Read Your Life Yourself Through. Learn more about voracious reader Pat Williams or follow him on Twitter. You can find little old wordsmith me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter (@pegmrose). Or sometimes you can just find me hanging out at Disneyland.