Thank you so much for having me as your guest today, Janice! It’s been a pleasure to experience our writing journeys together, and it’s an added bonus that we get to experience motherhood together as well.
I’m a stay-at-home mom with three little ones all under the age of five. I’m already getting nostalgic knowing that my oldest is about to graduate from preschool, so I can’t imagine having a high school graduate. But I can relate to letting go of one of my babies—a book baby, anyway. I just published my fourth book, Shattered Heart. I’ve never felt more terrified to publish a novel.
I’ll back up a little. When I wrote the rough draft of this sweet and wholesome romance, I knew exactly what I wanted to happen in the plot. I knew what conflicts would arise in order for the characters to grow and change. I knew where the book would take place. Every book in this series is located in a fictional small town in Iowa (based the town off of the Village of East Davenport). I was so excited that the first draft was easy to write. That was a first for me!
However, when I started revising the novel I wanted to rip my hair out. The main characters, Amanda and Ethan, had conflicts to overcome, but their problems were too surface-level. At the beginning of the novel, Amanda Meyers’ dad is diagnosed with lung cancer. Her mom passed away when she was in high school and her dad’s diagnosis resurrects fears that she kept buried for a long time. As Amanda’s worries resurface, she takes it out on the charming and handsome oncologist, Ethan Contos.
My biggest hurdle in creating depth to Amanda and Ethan was my lack of experience in hospitals. Even though I write romantic fiction, I strive to create relatable, authentic characters with deep-rooted issues, like you and me. In other words, I couldn’t “feel” their inner turmoil.
Until real life happened.
Last August, I gave birth to my third child, Savannah Grace. After spending a few days in the NICU for what seemed like extra fluid in her lungs, Savannah was discharged from the hospital. But after several days of being home, I noticed that Savannah was having a hard time breathing, especially while nursing. So I took her in to our pediatrician thinking he would give me some advice on how to position her differently, so that she could breathe easier. But that’s not what happened. Before I had a chance to explain my concerns, the nurse checked her oxygen level and called an ambulance due to an alarmingly low oxygen level. We spent a week at our local hospital. Doctors and nurses tested her for everything they could think of—but she seemed fine, except that she couldn’t breathe on her own.
We were transferred to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. At this point, they started testing her for rarities. And that’s when they diagnosed Savannah with Congenital Lobar Emphysema. You have better a chance of getting struck by lightning than having this condition. The best way I can describe it is like this: you have a lobe in your lung that expands like a balloon and pushes into the other lobes of your lungs—and in Savannah’s case, her heart. Once she was diagnosed, doctors immediately performed surgery. Watching Savannah being wheeled away into the OR was one of the scariest moments of my life. My prayers were set on repeat, but I felt an overwhelming peace that she would be okay. And she was. She is. Her lungs aren’t normal yet, but they are growing with her body. As she grows, she should be able to do activities and sports like her older siblings. Thank God!
After Savannah’s hospitalization, it took awhile before I attempted to write the final draft of Shattered Heart. But when I did, I poured my fears and worries into Amanda’s character. When Amanda cleans her dad’s house because she wants to kill off any germs that are a potential threat to her dad … That was me. After we got home from the hospital, I cleaned my whole house until it shined. When Amanda calls her dad at the hospital in the middle of the night just to hear his voice … That was me. I would go into Savannah’s room in the middle of the night just to make sure she was still breathing. When Amanda has a panic attack at the hospital … That was me. I thought I would pass out when I brought Savannah in for her first check-up (post-hospitalization) at our pediatrician’s office.
Besides one scene, I didn’t put my experiences in the novel on purpose. I was just polishing a final draft. But when I reread the final copy, I had tears in my eyes. There I was, in Amanda’s deepest darkest fears. Amanda and Ethan’s love story would not be the same if I hadn’t added my experiences.
This is why my heart picks up speed when I think about releasing Shattered Heart into the world. But I’m ready to let it go. I’m ready for you to read it. I hope Amanda and Ethan’s love story touches your heart as much as it touched mine.
Amanda Meyers is a force to be reckoned with, especially when her beloved father is diagnosed with lung cancer. She’s all too familiar with the heartache of losing a parent. But this time, she refuses to watch her dad suffer from the debilitating side effects of toxic medications like her mom did.
As a successful oncologist, Ethan Contos is more than capable of fighting for the lives of his patients. But when he starts falling for Amanda, he finds himself fighting a battle between two desires—pursuing the feisty daughter of an ailing patient and moving back to Greece to make amends with his parents.
When Amanda’s dad urges Ethan to spend time with his daughter, Amanda and Ethan can no longer deny their chemistry. Between her dad’s deadly diagnosis, an ex-boyfriend who still cares about her, and Ethan’s impending move, Amanda can’t handle much more. Will her heart shatter to pieces, or can Amanda find a way to have her happily-ever-after?
Crystal Joy lives in Iowa with her husband and three growing children. She’s a stay-at-home mom with a heart for people. She loves getting to know them, writing about them, and inventing them. When she’s not hanging out with the hero and heroine in her latest book, she loves to dance awkwardly, watch reality TV, and visit real locations from her favorite books. You can learn more about Crystal Joy at her website www.crystaljoybooks.com.
When people find out I’m an author, I get two reactions.
One: “Wow, that’s great!” Followed by many questions of what and how I write.
Two: “Oh.” Followed by a subtle eye roll and somewhat condescending questions about how easy it must be to use my writing to get rich without doing much work.
Thankfully, the first reaction is much more common, so I thought I would write up answers to the questions I’m most often asked. That way the next time someone asks me, I don’t even have to answer them, I’ll simply give them the link to this blog post (just kidding, I love to talk to people about writing).
Where do you get your ideas from?
Often from television. I love to watch a combination of science shows (think How the World Will End or Outrageous Acts of Science), true crime shows (Dateline or Fear Thy Neighbor), and adventure/history (Mysteries at the Museum or Expedition Unknown). So, my book ideas are really driven by my interests.
But sometimes ideas will hit me out of the blue when I’m sitting at a stoplight or trying to pay attention in church, and I have to write them down or lose them, almost like God is playing a mischievous game of hide-and-seek inside my head.
What is your writing schedule like?
Routines feel like a too-tight sweater for me, and yet I get more done with a routine. So, I try to be flexible while giving myself freedom to get lost in the writing for longer than I planned or to quit early when I need to go to the grocery store because we only have ranch dressing and pickles left in the fridge. Usually, I write for a few hours while the kids are in school. I wish I could write longer, but when I do the errands pile up. Inconveniently, my kids and my husband need to eat more than pickles and ranch every day. At this stage of parenting, feeding the family is my biggest time sucker.
Where do you write?
That depends on what I’m writing. If I’m creating new words in a new story, then I work best
at a coffee shop with some distractions. But editing requires deeper concentration, and I prefer a quieter environment like the library or my office at home. But as most other writers will tell you, life is busy and you learn to write when you can. I’ve hand-written in the car pool line, in line to vote, and while waiting for kids at the dentist just to get the story out. And I have to get the story out, because that’s the only way it can take life in my books.
Would you write other genres?
This usually comes from people who discover they like me as a person, but don’t like to read the genre that I typically write. The answer is yes, absolutely. I will write the story that comes into my head and excites me, then figure out which genre it fits best in. There are only two that I won’t write due to personal and moral reasons: Horror and Erotica.
Are you rich? How are your books doing? (A subtle way of asking, Are you rich?)
Nope, not rich. Most writers aren’t. In this new culture of self-publishing, there are more and more books produced every year and writers have the same problem as every other business person—how to get noticed among a sea of options. There are wonderful, fantastic books that don’t sell much, and there are awful books that make the best seller list, and then there’s everything in between. All I can do is write the best book I can, try to tell people about it, and leave the sales results to God.
I could never be that creative, how do you do it? (said with a little bit of awe)
Many people look at art and artists as mystical people beyond comprehension, but the truth is we are just people who have a certain gift. God doles out the gifts and it’s merely up to us to use them. For instance, I have no idea how my son can swish a dozen 3-point shots in a row or how a friend of mine can make a gourmet meal for her family every night because I don’t have those gifts. If I could have picked my gift, for sure it would have been writing first, but I also would have liked for God to give me a beautiful singing voice (He didn’t).
I’ve always wanted to write, but I can’t …
This one isn’t a question, but I’m including it here because it comes up often and makes me a little sad. The words “I can’t” are always followed by a list of reasons why this person isn’t following their dream. The only thing I can do at that point is encourage them to let go of their fear and take the plunge. Writing can be addictive and time consuming, but it’s worth every moment when you hear from your readers and realize your book has really connected with them.
Today I’m joining The Sound of Silver birthday blog tour! I’m posting today about Rachelle Rea Cobb’s second installment in the Steadfast Love series, an inspirational historical romance set during the 16th century!
Keep reading for info on how to win a FREE copy!!
ABOUT The Sound of Silver
The stalwart saint and the redeemed rebel. One fights for faith, the other for honor…
After Dirk rescues Gwyneth from the Iconoclastic Fury, she discovers that faith is sometimes fragile—and hope is not as easy as it may seem. Gwyneth continues her quest to learn more about the love of God preached by Protestants she once distrusted.
Meanwhile, Dirk’s quest is to prevent his sullied name from staining hers. Will his choice to protect her prove the undoing of her first faltering steps toward a Father God? Once separated, will Dirk and Gwyneth’s searching hearts ever sing the same song?
Find The Sound of Silver on…
Amazon Paperback: http://is.gd/1HwJoi
Barnes & Noble: http://is.gd/qhoCTc
Books a Million: http://is.gd/M2y5P2
Interview with Rachelle Rae
Rachelle is also the author of The Sound of Diamonds, the first book in the series, and a newlywed! This summer, she married a man with the same first name as the hero of the series! I’m joining in this blog tour to tell you a little more about Silver and spread the news about the rocking giveaway Rachelle is hosting—make sure you enter using the Rafflecopter form to win the lovely necklace pictured and your choice of any of the Steadfast Love titles!
- When and where did you first get the idea for the Steadfast Love Series?
A song I was listening to on the radio inspired the title of the first book. So I wrote Diamonds, but when I finished it, I realized to my great frustration that the characters weren’t done with their story, even though I had been quite adamant that I would write a stand-alone novel. But the story wasn’t finished, so I kept writing.
- Readers often pick out favorite quotes from a novel. Do you have a favorite of your own from The Sound of Silver?
Yes! In fact, my friend Mindy, a calligrapher, even created a beautiful piece of art from one of my favorite quotes: “Within the pages of books one’s heart can be revealed.”
- Can you tell us what first drew you to writing Inspirational Historical Romance?
My first exposure to the genre came when I read Heartsong Presents novels when I was twelve. Those small books introduced me to how much I believe in the power of story, especially love stories set in times gone by.
- I saw on your website that you also write reviews, articles and offer editing services. What’s one of your favorite things beyond writing novels that you enjoy?
Editing is such fun! I daresay I enjoy editing a page full of my own (or others’!) words just as much as I enjoy splashing words onto a blank page.
And now for the GIVEAWAY!
Enter using the link below to win a beautiful necklace created by Baubles, Beads, and Stuff and your choice of any one of Rachelle’s three books (the series begins in Book One, of course, but in case you have one or two of her books already, Rachelle will gladly send you the next one to read!).
International friends, the paperback & necklace giveaway is open to continental U.S. addresses only (sorry!). But do still enter, because one international winner will also be chosen to receive an e-book.
Click here to enter!
Today, I have a fun surprise that I’d like to share with you.
To celebrate the beginning of fall, I’ve teamed up with more than 40 fantastic inspirational contemporary romance authors to give away a huge collection of novels, PLUS a Kindle Fire to one lucky winner!
You can win my novel, Crevice, plus books from authors like Patricia Bradley and DiAnn Mills.
Enter the giveaway by clicking here: http://bit.ly/contemp-inspy
Good luck, and enjoy!
I don’t normally read historical romance, not because I don’t like history, but mainly because I find a lot of historical romances boring. Many historical authors spend too much time describing the customs of the time period and not enough time developing the story.
That is definitely NOT the case for Dawn Crandall. The Cautious Maiden is an intriguing tale of a redeemed bad boy who falls for the rule-following cautious maiden. Violet is pushed out of her comfort zone time after time and sent right into the arms of Vance (the repentant scoundrel). I loved these characters!
The writing is beautiful and the story is engrossing, so that it transcends the historical genre. This truly is a story all readers would love.
The Cautious Maiden is the first of Crandall’s books that I have read, and I enjoyed the privilege of receiving an early review copy. I can’t wait to read more of her books. If you love historicals, and even if you don’t, this story is for you. You can get your copy and get a peek at Crandall’s other books by clicking here.
I love a great many things about Crevice, not the least of which is that it’s my first book baby to be published. As I celebrate its release to the world tomorrow (August 23rd), I thought I’d list for you a few of the things I adore about it:
- Two parallel stories, the modern-day treasure hunt and the historical life of the Dutchman
- The challenge of recreating someone’s life who died 100 years ago and making it relevant today
- Doing the research for the setting—the Superstition Mountains of Arizona are an amazing testament to God’s majesty
- The main character’s journey is one of accepting God’s unconditional forgiveness, something I think is difficult for us all
- Often, the hunt for the Dutchman’s treasure has ended in tragedy, and I feel like this story is my way of honoring those who have died searching for the Lost Dutchman gold mine, and of course those who still live to hunt the treasure
I hope you get a chance to read my first release, and I’d love to know what you think. You can leave a review on Amazon or contact me directly at Janice@janiceboekhoff.com. The discounted price for the e-book ends tomorrow on release day, so if you want to pre-order and save a little, click here.
In my novel Crevice, one of my characters spends seven days trapped in the mountainous desert near Phoenix, Arizona. That’s a long time to go without food and water in a dry climate. Garrick Hearst (the main character’s brother) walks off a cliff due to a lapse in his own judgment. First, he was climbing up a mountain in conditions so foggy he couldn’t see much of anything ahead of him. And second, he was distracted by a girl. Two big mistakes in a row, and suddenly you’re falling off a cliff. Does he make it out alive (you’ll have to read the book to find out)?
More importantly, how would you survive if you ever found yourself in the same situation?
Although I enjoy putting my characters into uncomfortable positions, I hope you understand I’m not making light of these types of accidents at all. Accidents in the wilderness happen to real people, and some of them have died as a result.
Often a person will die in the initial fall, but if God spares you, and you find yourself trapped halfway down a mountain, what should you do?
It can take only a few days in arid climates to die of dehydration, although some healthy young people have gone more than a week. To die from lack of food happens much slower, more than two weeks, sometimes over a month, depending on overall health and body weight.
Obviously, water is your biggest concern.
If you find yourself trapped in a desert, here are some basic survival skills:
- If you’re with your car, stay there, put the hood up to signal distress and wait for help.
- If you’re deep into the desert and there’s no one around, look for ways to get to civilization. Your best bet to survive is to help yourself.
- If you can’t get out (or down the mountain), put out bright-colored clothing as a flag to signal you need help.
- Search for water-bearing plants within your reach. Drinking water from cacti can be a good idea—if you pick the right one. The giant Saguarro cactus is poisonous, but the Barrel cactus has a drinkable milky sap.
- Take advantage of any short-lived storms by putting out a piece of clothing (preferably waterproof like a windbreaker) to collect the momentary rainfall. Pour the water (or squeeze it out) into a water bottle.
- Improvise a shade screen using clothing. If possible, sit above the ground, which can be up to 30 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the air temperature.
- Food will not be your biggest problem for at least a week, so don’t even worry about it. After a few days, your body won’t feel hunger any more. In fact, ingesting food adds to your body’s water needs to digest the food. The biggest concern is finding enough water to keep your brain and other organs from the effects of dehydration.
I won’t give away which technique(s) Garrick uses in the book or whether he makes it out alive. I hope you’ll read Crevice to experience his ordeal with him, and to discover how his sister, Elery, searches for him by hunting for the Lost Dutchman gold mine.
To pre-order the e-book of Crevice before the price goes up, click here.
For more tips see, 26 Tips for Surviving in the Desert (http://www.desertusa.com/desert-activity/desert-survival-tips.html).
1. The surface of the sun has got nothing on Orlando. Seriously, I had sweat running down the back of my legs because my bootie was sweating.
2. Older ladies or men (no discrimination here) in rented scooters navigating through huge crowds is a recipe for disaster. About a dozen times, I narrowly avoided becoming road kill due to these elderly drag racers.
3. If Disney puts it on a T-shirt, someone will buy it—like this little beauty I bought for my son.
4. My children hover too much. They kept stepping on the back of my sandals, causing the Velcro to fly open (painful, yes) and me to literally walk out of my shoes. My mantra became: DO NOT walk behind mom!
5. The best way to take the fight out of my feisty kids is to dehydrate them, stick them on the surface of the sun (see #1) and force them to walk 20,000 steps per day (thank you fit bit for tracking our torture). They did all of this with surprisingly little complaining for the promise of a 3-minute ride every hour—amazing!
6. Watching your kids in Jedi robes on-stage fighting Darth Vader is truly the BEST thing EVER!!
7. Walt Disney had it right. Life is so full of responsibility—work, school, cooking, cleaning. We all need to remember how to play, dream and imagine more. It’s good for the soul (at Disney, though, not so good on the bank account).
When was the last time you went to Disney? How was your experience? Tell me what your plans are for the summer to play and relax?
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
What we celebrate at Christmas is that YOU came!
You cared enough to put feet on Your spiritual legs and step on the broken dirt of this world.
Certainly not because of anything wonderful we ever did.
No, You came to rescue us. You came to meet us where we are so we could leave this Earth and be with You forever. You first met us here … and here You are still meeting us.
In some way every day, You touch our lives. Through the Holy Spirit. Through Your words in the Bible. Through the ordinary occurrences we like to call coincidences. It’s all You.
In a manger, as a frail baby boy, You came long ago … but You’ve never left us.
Happy Birthday, Jesus!