Saturday, November 24, 2007

Susan Wales and Robin Shope - Free Books

Today, we're talking to two authors who write together.

Susan Wales

Robin Shope

Susan and Robin, welcome. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

I lend at least one of my quirky character traits to each one of my characters, even the bad guys. In the first book, The Chase, Rubric, Jill’s curmudgeon boss, is a creature of habit. He eats at the same restaurant again and again . . .that’s me. The female characters, especially the protagonist, have many of my traits. I bring my experiences to a character in a variety of ways, especially from the traumatic events of my life. I believe God has allowed these tragedies so I can use these experiences to relate to other and to encourage, inspire the readers.

ROBIN: I bestow each female with an aspect of my personality. At times I create females with the attributes I wish I had, or attributes that I admire in others. The men are a combination of people I have known.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

My husband Ken wanted his marriage proposal to me to be unforgettable. The evening began like a scene from a movie with a sunset drive along the coast to one of Malibu’s finest restaurants. When we were seated at a fireside table with two-dozen of my favorite Sonya roses, I became suspicious. The maitre ‘d appeared with two flutes of vintage French champagne on a silver tray. He and the waiters hovered over us, I assumed to await my reaction to the bubbly. Wanting them to go away, I quickly picked up the glass and took a big sip of the champagne. Everyone gasped. Perhaps they are upset I gulped instead of sipping such fine champagne? All of a sudden I understood as a foreign object slid down my throat. My ring was hidden in the glass of champagne. I swallowed my engagement ring! After the waiter’s Heimlich maneuver, the ring popped out on the table. Ken didn’t miss a beat as he picked up the ring and proposed to me. Not exactly the romantic evening Ken had envisioned, but it truly was—an unforgettable proposal!

ROBIN: Rick and I spent our honeymoon at a Christian Camp. It was 100 degrees and the room had no AC. It also had one lumpy bed so I gave Rick that to sleep in while I slept on the floor over the sump pump under the floor.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

My mother created dramatic story hours for my sister and me. If we were reading Jack and the Beanstalk, she would give us a ‘hunk of bread and a piece of cheese.’ We’d wear crowns and have tea parties when she read Cinderella. Best of all she would ask us make up new endings to the stories, and later, make up our own stories. In the second grade, I began writing my stories down and reading them to my friends. After all these years, I’m still doing it. When my childhood friends became bored with too many stories, they would beg, “Can’t we go play dolls?” Now those same friends beg, “Can’t we go shopping?”

ROBIN: I discovered I wanted to spend my life writing when I was in 5th grade, and tried to impress my English composition teacher with my stories.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

My mother’s story hours ignited my passion for books. Our town librarian introduced me to Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Count of Monte Cristo, Les Miserables, Sense and Sensibility, Rebecca, and my favorite book, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Favorite Christian books are C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, and Catherine Marshall’s book, Something More. New author Joshilyn Jackson’s first book, gods of Alabama, and Pulitzer Prize winner, Rick Bragg’s Ava's Man and All Over But the Shoutin’ are current favorites of mine. Here’s an excerpt from one of Bragg’s stories. "This is a place where Grandmothers hold babies on their laps and whisper in their ears that the lights in the sky are holes in the floor of heaven." Ah, I must confess I’m green with envy. Writing doesn't get much better than that does it?”

ROBIN: I love to read Cynthia Rylant’s books, and I enjoy short story collections, but my favorite read is a good mystery.

What other books have you written, whether published or not?

Fleming Revell published our three novels, The Chase, The Replacement, and The Candidate. My first book with Ann Platz was the Match Made in Heaven series for Multnomah. Ann and I also wrote four gift books, From This Day Forward, (Multnomah) Social Graces, The Pleasure of Your Company and Social Graces for Your Wedding (Harvest House). I’ve written three gift books with Alice Gray, A Christmas Keepsake, Keepsake for a Mother’s Heart, (J Countryman) and A Grandmother’s Love, coming out in 2008 with Howard/Simon Schuster, and I’ve written two others, The Art of Romantic Living (Janet Thoma/Thomas Nelson) and ‘Tis the Season. Two books with Dr. Ted Baehr accompanied films, Faith in God and Generals (B&H) and Amazing Grace, (New Leaf Press), produced by my husband, a biography for a soap opera star, and a non-fiction book, Standing on the Promises (Multnomah/Random House). My five-year-old granddaughter and I’ve written and illustrated a lot of books that haven’t been published.

ROBIN: I have written two cozies, four full length mysteries, and one Young Adult book, yet to be published.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

I have learned to say, "no." Helen Hayes, the late great stage actress, found it impossible to say no, so her friends gave a "no"’ pin to wear and point to when she needed to say no. I considered buying a "no" pin, but instead, I retreat in my home, especially when I have a big project or a book contract. These retreats allow me to spend time alone with God to restore my soul. During my retreats, I say ‘no’ to all invitations, even the tempting ones. When I’m not on retreat and life gets crazy, I take a ten-minute time out for a walk on the beach or a power nap. I also pray a lot, “Lord, I need some help down here!”

ROBIN: I spend time with God and ask Him to clear my mind and bring me His peace. I also take time out for me, but have to schedule it.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

I have a blast because I name my characters after my friends and family. If they’re alive, I ask their permission, especially if the character is a bad guy. All the guys love having a bad guy named after them. Go figure? This also gives me a great excuse to call and catch up with old friends I sometimes haven’t seen in years. When the book comes out, I’ll send them a copy.

ROBIN: Sometimes they are combination names of people I know or have known. For example, in the book trilogy, Pearl was my mother’s middle name and Lewis is the last name of a boy I dated in college. Jill was one of my college roommates. Other times a name just pops into my head. When I cannot seem to come up with the appropriate name for the personality of a character, I go through a book of baby names.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

As a mother and a grandmother seeing the things you have taught a child about God and life reflected in their lives. As a wife, knowing how I, as a helpmate, have inspired my husband and his accomplishments. As a daughter, seeing the joy in the eyes of my elderly parents that I turned out okay!

ROBIN: I am most proud of my loving family; my husband of thirty years and his missions work overseas, and our two children who both work in the health system to help others.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

Wow! Great question. I’d like to be an animal that could live in the water and on land, but not a hippo . . . a sea lion. I love to watch sea lions lounging on the beach in the sun with their pals. They’re so laid back and unafraid of approaching strangers. As I walk past them, they look up to acknowledge me. They fish and will share their food with their pals. When the mood hits them, they’ll waddle down to the ocean and take a dip. Their concern for one another is poignant. I saw a documentary in which a gigantic polar bear attacked a sea lion, and although they were unsuccessful, his friends desperately tried to pull the bear off of him. So if I were a sea lion, I’d definitely want to be a California sea lion!

ROBIN: I am really glad I am a human because Jesus saved me.

What is your favorite food?

My husband and I love salads so I’m always experimenting and creating new ones. Our favorite is a beef tenderloin salad I created. I toss my favorite greens, romaine and spinach with toasted pine nuts, crumbled goat cheese, purple onion rings, sliced strawberries, and my homemade vinaigrette dressing. A famous French chef taught me it’s all about the herbs, spices, and especially the quality of oil and vinegar in the salad dressing. If any you would like my recipe for the salad or the dressing, let me know, and I’ll be happy to email it to you.

ROBIN: My favorite food is Mexican. Yum.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

I’m still working on it! After I finish writing a book, I read it, and then I’ll rewrite it. And rewrite it and rewrite it. It’s a part of the creative process. And I just keep coming up with better ideas. When the deadline is looming, I finally just have to let it go. It's a challenge, but you gotta do it. It’s an addiction, but at deadline time, I refuse to open the file and look at it again. Does anyone know of a 12-step program for addictive rewriters?

ROBIN: My greatest roadblock is finding the time to write. I am a fulltime teacher and work 50 hour weeks. Time can be the issue.

What advice would you give to an author just starting out?

Jesus Christ walked in excellence and to honor him, we must strive for excellence in all we do. So beginning writers, never stop perfecting your craft. If you don’t have the money to invest in a writer’s conferences or a writing class, you can find a ton of free information on the Internet on writing and great books at the library. Lena’s site is great for beginning writers. Take advantage of these wonderful resources. When friends and family members ask what you want for your birthday or Christmas, ask them to contribute to a writer’s conference fund. Conferences are invaluable. For those who have secured your first book contract, my advice for you is to listen to your editor. Discussions with your editor are great . . . ‘iron sharpening iron’, but if you reach an impasse, remember the editor is the expert. Discuss your true feelings with your editor, but if he or she still insists you make a change, hit that delete button and let it go, my friend. Choose your battles carefully, not just in writing but in life too.

ROBIN: Stick with it, believe in yourself but be open to change. Join a critic group and take writing lessons.

What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

SUSAN: The Candidate
is one of three inspirational romances that revolve around Jill Lewis, an investigative political reporter. At the close of The Replacement, Jill is burned out from a life-threatening investigation and ‘torn between two lovers’ . . . what a great problem to have, huh ladies? So what’s a girl to do? Jill runs home to Mama and persuades her to buy the local newspaper. But Jill can’t seem to escape those evil politicians and finds herself right back in the middle of a murder investigation. On a recent dive, she’s also discovered the remains of what appears to be the legendary lake monster at the bottom of the lake. Will anyone believe her? Will she escape the evil politicians? Will she decide which man to marry? Her mother and sister, who have just opened a bridal shop, certainly hope so. As one reader wrote, the ending of The Candidate will make you smile.

ROBIN: I am really proud that we were able to tie legends and history of Delavan, Wisconsin, into the book. It added a flavor to the story that makes it unique. It’s a fun read.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

You can find me on my blog. Just put Susan Wales profile in the search. My website is .

ROBIN: Just type my name in on the browser.

Thank you, Susan and Robin, for letting us get to know you more.

Readers, here's the good news for you. The drawing for this interview will be for all three of the books in the series, so you'll want to leave a comment for a chance to win this set of books.

There's still time to leave a comment on these interviews:

MaryLu Tyndall - The Restitution
Margaret Daley - Heart of the Home

If you don't want to miss a single interview on this blog, sign up for FeedBlitz in the right hand column under my profile.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to be entered for the drawing.


Hope Chastain said...

Please enter me. The books sound wonderful! Thanks.

Dona Watson said...

Please enter me in the drwing. Thanks!

lightstone writer [at]mac [dot]com

Anonymous said...

Great interview! Please enter me. Melody msproule1225@gmaildotcom

Nancy said...

Both of these lovely ladies
sound so cool!
I would LOVE to read their books!
I laughed my head off at Susan's engagement story, I could see that same thing happening to me!
Please enter me in the drawing.
Thanks to all of you for your
wonderful generosity!
Blessings abundant,

Janna said...

Please enter me - what a neat concept for the books!


Stormi said...

These sound great, please enter me in your drawing.


Anonymous said...

I read the first book that they wrote. I really liked it. It was also interesting to read the interview by them. Please put my name in for the drawing to win this book.
Nora St.Laurent

Hannah said...

great interview! i'd love to win a copy of the book! hsmuda[at]gmail[dot]com

Pamela J said...

Sounds like a great book. I'd love to be entered in the three book drawing. Please add my name to the list. Thanks.
Pam Williams

bigguysmama said...

Finished the book on Black Friday. Sat in the line at Circuit City for an hour and a half and brought it with me. I was bummed to finish it since I was enjoying it so much! On to book 2. I'm already entered in the contest. Just wanted to share I'd finished the book.

Susan Wales said...

Hi Friends and Readers! So glad you enjoyed the interviews! We have Lena to thank for that. She is truly amazing! Lena does her own custom interviews and questions and I must say she really got me talking . . . uh, I mean writing!

I hope you all will enjoy the books. Just remember to read them in order: The Chase, The Replacement, and then The Candidate.


Susan Wales

lev53211 said...

great giveaway- please enter me!

Lilo's Mom said...

This series sounds really interesting...intrigue, romance, investigative reporting! I can't wait to read them.

This was a very interesting interview. I can't imagine the fun and the difficulties of writing as a team!
Please enter me in the drawing.

cherryblossommj said...

I'd like to be entered in the drawing. I love it when books ask so many questions for the reader. It really makes things a page turner.

cherryblossommj at gmail dot com

book*girl said...

Thanks so much to Everyone who has taken time from their busy day and left a comment. It means so much to me. If you have time, come on over to my blog for a visit sometime. I would love to hear from you and I am going to start doing drawings closer to Christmas. Just found out Lena and I are practically neighbors here in Texas. Much love to you, Robin Shope

MissBookworm said...

Please enter me!! I would love to win!! you can contact me on my shoutlife.


tetewa said...

I'd like to be included for the drawing!

Carole said...

Robin and Susan, you have two of the funniest wedding-related stories I've read. Thanks for the interview and the opportunity to be entered in the drawing.


Robin said...

Hi Carole,
Yes, Susan's wedding story was romantic and mine was just sad :>/..and isn't the Lord wonderful to give us so many different experiences! I wrote a short story that has been around the block a few times called, Mom's Last Laugh, about how I met my husband. You can read it on my blog
thanks for taking your time to comment, Robin Shope

Laura @ Laura Williams' Musings said...

Sounds like an interesting book.

Count me in please.

blogged ya:

Renae H said...

Great interview! The books sound great. Thanks for the giveaway!


Rose McCauley said...

wow, lena. You just keep coming up with great authors and interviews. I would love to win these books. rose

Abi Buening said...

A whole series. Wow. I'd love to win. Count me in. Wonderful interview.

windycindy said...

Wow, What a contest! The two women work together and it seems they work well together! Please enter me in your fabulous contest! Cindi

angelaandconnor at said...

Defently sign me up!

I blogged ya too :

Carolynn W. said...

Sounds like an interesting book, please enter me too, thanks!
carolynnwald at hotmail dot com

Audra Marie said...

The books sound great! :)

herwittywords (at) gmail (dot) com

Emma said...

Great interview! The books sound wonderful! Please enter me in the drawing.

ellinghouse said...

i would love to win these books, I really enjoyed reading the interview...thanks!

Susan Wales said...

Best of luck to each of you in the drawing! Do you all love the holidays as my husband Ken and I do? We love the spirit of giving . . . and we're bubbling over in the spirit this year! We just arrived home from a quick business trip, and Ken asked me what I was doing on the computer so late, so I explained that I felt the urge to give away another book . . . a copy of my Christmas book co-authored with the lovely author Alice Gray!

A CHRISTMAS KEEPSAKE offers ideas and activities that will help you and your family keep Christ in your Christmas celebrations throughout the season. Also, many of you know Alice Gray from her delightful Stories of the Heart series so you'll know what kind of stories to expect from this holiday book! Hailey's Gift is a story written by my daughter Megan about my granddaughter that you must read for a big dose of holiday spirit!

All of you have been so kind and gracious about our interview, I want to add this extra gift. Not to be outdone, my husband Ken said to give away a copy of his DVD of Amazing Grace . . . the life of William Wilberforce, an inspiring film he produced. If you think one person can't change the world, then watch this movie!

Lena, dear, I hope you won't mind drawing an extra couple of names!

Ken joins me in wishing each of you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year!

Susan WalesInwhht

Robin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robin said...

Because of all you wonderful bloggers, I will add more into the pool of give aways; an additional copy of The Chase, The Replacement, and The Candidate from me.
Robin Shope

Glenda Stice said...

Oh what an incredible marriage proposal! Definitely unique and unforgettable. I does sound like something out of a movie.
The books sound wonderful and I'd love to be included in the drawing. Thank you!

Lori said...

Great interview! Please sign me up. :)
achally (at)

Deborah said...

please enter me! these books look really interesting

Anonymous said...

The interview cracked me up. I love that they were frank and honest with their answers and views on life. Very refreshing.

Nora St.Laurent

rebornbutterfly said...

i'd really like to be entered for this drawing!

scaramouche9999 said...

Sign me up please. Thanks, Lena.
Donald James Parker

ChristyJan said...

Great interview!

I'd love to win this set of books.

charmed said...

I would love to be in this contest! I just found The Replacement over the weekend and loved it!

arogers at gmail dot com

MaryAnn said...

great interview. I'd love the chance to read the boxes and see Amazing Grace. Please enter me in the contest. Thanks!

BeccaGirl said...

I love all the great advice given here. The books sound just great and right up my alley. I love to write and am just getting into it. I've been rebelling when it comes to reading, but with the help of the Lord, I am coming away from that now and look forward to all the written word has to bring me! I'd love to be included in the drawing! Thanks so much, great interview!!

Cherie J said...

Great interview! These booka sound good!

Stacey said...

please toss my name in the hat. Thanks.

Susie Larson said...

Reading your interview was like hearing you talk! How fun it was to read about your inspiration (and your proposal story).

I would LOVE to win a copy of one of your books, or even the DVD, "Amazing Grace." It's one of my favorite movies.

Robin, it was nice to meet you!

Susan Wales said...

Hello again Readers and Friends,

Robin and I both love the books we've written, and we're so thrilled to hear that those of you who have read them like the books! Reading is such an adventure and I think we take away a bit of inspiration or wisdom with every book we read. When I was a teenager Catherine Marshall's book CHRISTY was the most popular Christian book around. I can remember reading the part about Miss Alice telling Christy the reason bad things can happen to innocent and/or good people. At the time I was struggling with a friend's death who had been killed in a car accident, and those few words not only made sense of his death to me, but they were also words that I have carried with me throughout my life. That's why I believe it's so important for us to read, read, read!

For those of you who are just getting into reading, you are set to go on a great adventure! A good redemptive movie can do the same thing for you.

Good luck to all of you in the drawing.


Susan Wales

windycindy said...

Hi, Sounds like both books are winners! Count me in on this wonderful contest! Thanks,Cindi

stampedwithgrace said...

would love to win a copy of Amazing Grace, thanks!

Kathleen said...

I love all these give-aways. Thank you, ladies, for your generosity (whether I win or not)! This should be a nice holiday surprise for whoever wins.

Susan Wales said...

Merry Christmas to all! I wish everyone could win. Thank you for your participation . . . it has been wonderful for Robin and me for all of you to stop by. And thank you for your great comments on our books. I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed writing them.

Blessings to all!

Susan Wales

Blondie said...

I would like to know when Susan's ne thriller is coming out. I read she signed a book contract with Simon Schuster but I do not see any more information on this.

Blondie said...

oops, I need to be clearer, sorry about that. I read Susan's comment that her new thriller is coming out this year 2008 published by Simon Schuster. I would love to know the release date so I can pick it up.

Anonymous said...

can anyone help me as to when Susan Wale's new thriller is coming out? I have been asking but no one seems to know.
thanks, Blondie Mills