Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A WOODLANDS CHRISTMAS - Ramona Cecil, Darlene Franklin, Janelle Mowry, Tamela Hancock Murray - 3 Free Books

Today, we're talking to the authors of another Christmas novella collection--A Woodlands Christmas. First we'll talk to Ramona Cecil. How did your story for the collection come about?

I actually wrote the basic story several years ago. In 2005, it won first place in a novel contest sponsored by the East Texas Writers’ Association of Longview, Texas.

What are you reading right now?

The Overton Window, the new political thriller by Glenn Beck. Though quite a departure from the Christian romance novels I usually read, I’m finding the book both riveting and informative.

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

(A.) Larkspur, a romance set in an Indiana prairie settlement in 1835. It was published in 2006 by Vintage Romance Publishing after winning first place in their 2005 Vintage Inspirations Contest.
(B) Brooksbury, an unpublished romance novel set in 1505 England.
(C) London Holiday and Train To Eden, two unpublished contemporary romance novellas set in England.
(D) Orion’s Daughter, an unpublished Christian historical novella set on an 1859 whaling ship out of New Bedford, Massachusetts.
(E) Sweet Forever, Christian historical novel published in 2008 by Barbour Publishings’ Heartsong Presents line.
(F) Everlasting Promise, Christian historical novel published in 2008 by Barbour Publishings’ Heartsong Presents line.
(G) Charity’s Heart, Christian historical novel published in 2008 by Barbour Publishings’ Heartsong Presents line.
(E), (F), and (G) comprise Freedom’s Crossroad, Barbour Publishing’s three-in-one collection of Indiana historical romances just released in May.
(H) The Heritage, an unpublished full length Christian historical romance novel.
(I) The Healing, an unpublished full length Christian historical romance novel.

I’m presently working on another full length Christian historical romance novel set in 1870 and inspired by the history of the southern Indiana town in which I live.

What is the hardest thing about writing a part of a novella collection?

In my case, it was rewriting my already written story to fit the theme of the collection. My story, which was originally set near Dallas, Texas, had to be rewritten to fit East Texas, which has a much different topography and history from the northern central part of the state. I also had to write into my story the character of Gabe Noell, the itinerate woodcarver/preacher who appears in all four stories of the collection and make sure my description of him coordinated with that of the other authors.

How did collaborating with this team impact you?

I really enjoyed it. It was fun to see how Darlene, Janelle, and Tamela wove their own Christmas stories around our common character, Gabe.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

My heroine’s name is Bridget O’Keefe. I knew I wanted her to be a petite red-head with green eyes and be of Irish heritage. I’ve always liked the Irish girl’s name, Bridget. I’m not sure how I came up with O’Keefe. I’m thinking I might have heard it on TV around the time I began plotting the story. My hero’s name is Seth. It’s a name from the Bible I have always liked, but had never used in one of my stories, so I thought this was a great place to use it. I wanted to give Seth a Germanic sounding surname because his backstory was inspired by the true story of the son of Goodleck Koozer of Henrietta, Texas.

What did you want the reader to take away from your story?

That holding grudges enslaves the heart and spirit, while forgiveness is freeing. Also, don’t fight against God’s will, because He always wants the best for us.

Are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers? If so, why?

Yes. I joined in 2002 because I knew I needed help and support if I was to ever realize my dream of becoming a published writer. As a writer of Christian fiction, ACFW was a no-brainer. I’m quick to testify that joining this group of wonderful writers—many of whom are now dear friends—was key in helping me on my road to publication.

What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?

Two, really; have an open, teachable heart, and never, never, never give up.

Thank you, Ramona. Now we're going to talk to Darlene Franklin. How did your story for the collection come about?

I was intrigued by the idea of an artist searching for a woman with Mary’s face—and character (I had worked on earlier proposal with the same theme). So when we decided that each story would include an itinerant woodcarver, I knew he would carve a nativity set and my hero would paint Mary’s face.

What are you reading right now?

I’m reading the other Carol finalists in the mystery category (My books, A String of Murders, is a finalist as well). So I’m reading The Case of the Mystified M.D. by A.K. Arenz. I’m also reading The Crimson Cipher by Susan Page Davis, Dakota Cowboy by Linda Ford and Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Curtis Higgs. I’d say that a fairly representative selection. I read mysteries for fun; romances for fun and business; and nonfiction for edification.

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

I have several unpublished books, since I wrote about one book a year while waiting for that elusive first sale.

Heartsong Presents has published 3 of my romances so far:

Romanian Rhapsody (with the sequels, Plainsong and Knight Music, due out next year), all contemporary romance
Beacon of Love (one of three stories in the newly released Seaside Romance), a historical romance set in a Rhode Island light house during a hurricane.
Prodigal Patriot, the first of three historical romances set in Vermont. Books 2 (Bridge to Love) and 3 (Love’s Raid) are on their way.

Like Janelle, I had the privilege of writing for Heartsong Presents Mysteries. Two of the books have already been released: Gunfight at Grace Gulch and A String of Murders (the Carol award finalist). I’m hopeful that the third book, Paint Me a Puzzle, will come out next year.

I’ve also been in two previous novella collections: Snowbound Colorado Christmas and Wild West Christmas.

And I was in both of the last two collections with Darlene. What is the hardest thing about writing a part of a novella collection?

Working with other writers always involves adjusting to everyone’s schedules and writing styles. But that’s part of what is wonderful about it. Together, we make a dynamic team!

How did collaborating with this team impact you?

I was awestruck when I read our stories. Together, we have created a collection that will touch lives. It’s such a great way to invest in the lives of other writers.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

Given my take on the story of Mary and Joseph, I chose rather obvious names. My hero is Joseph “Joey” Carpenter. I used the nickname Polly for my heroine, Mary Jessup.

What did you want the reader to take away from your story?

I hope the readers will learn to look for character over outer beauty, and to seek to develop the qualities that set Mary apart for themselves.

Are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers? If so, why?

I joined ACFW in 2005. I guess I waited to see if this upstart organization was going to take off, and oh, boy, it did! (I’ve been writing since 1991.) It provides an international fellowship of writers who support each other. I learn, I fellowship, and I keep up with trends in my profession. If you’re a writer of Christian fiction, you should belong to ACFW. It’s as simple as that.

What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?

Perhaps it’s to grow tough skin. Rejection and bad reviews are part of every writer’s life.

Thank you, Darlene. Janelle Mowry is coming up next. How did your story for the collection come about?

I had a story idea sketched out but had yet to start writing it. When we decided on our story theme, I adjusted the story to make it fit.

What are you reading right now?

LOL. Believe it or not, I’m reading Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer. I feel it never hurts to refresh one’s memory about proper writing techniques.

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

I’ve written a three book series, The Colorado Runaways, for Harvest House, the first titled When All Your Dreams Come True to be released Feb. 1, 2011. Books 2 and 3 of this series will also be released in 2011. I’ve also written Love Finds You in Silver City, Idaho, for Summerside Press to be released Oct. 1, 2010. I’ve also co-authored a three book mystery series, Massachusetts Mayhem Mysteries, with Elizabeth Ludwig. The first book, titled Where the Truth Lies, was published in 2008. Books 2 and 3, titled Died in the Wool and A Black Die Affair, will release in 2011. I’ve written three other stories, two of which will probably never see the light of day. The other may find its way back to my computer screen one day.

What is the hardest thing about writing a part of a novella collection?

The hardest part for me was making sure the character who appears in each of our stories both looked and sounded the same. But the ladies I worked with are great and simplified the task.

How did collaborating with this team impact you?

They taught me how to write much tighter, how to find the sentences that weren’t necessary and delete them without too much pain. This was the first short story I’d ever written, so new lessons were involved for me. Tamela, Ramona, and Darlene were great to work with.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

Sometimes I use names I’ve always loved. Other times, I try to make them sound like the region they’ve come from. For my heroine in this story, I wanted a southern-sounding name, which led to Emma Rose Pickett. It just seemed to fit.

What did you want the reader to take away from your story?

I hope the readers will learn that anger and vengeance only hurts the one holding tightly to them. That walking in God’s will with a spirit of love and forgiveness brings freedom and healing.

Are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers? If so, why?

I joined ACFW in 2002 after an author I’ve admired for years told me about the group. The authors taught me much and what I learned was a significant part of my journey to becoming a published author.

What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?

Besides the need to join ACFW? Never stop learning.

Thank you, Janelle. Now I'm going to talk Tamela Hancock Murray, one of my favorite people. How did your story for the collection come about?

I love how Gabe is present through the book, and I felt led to write about him as a long-lost grandfather. Often people inspired by great preachers don’t think about the fact that the ministers have family lives, too. Since Gabe is mysterious, I thought readers would be interested in learning more about Gabe and from whence he came, since for this set we had decided not to go with the “Is he really an angel?” route.

What are you reading right now?

In additional to my devotional reading, I’m one of those crazy people who reads several novels at once. I’m reading THE GLASSBLOWER by Laurie Alice Eakes, A PROMISE FOR SPRING by Kim Vogel Sawyer, and next on my list is BECOMING LUCY by Martha Rogers. I am proud to be a literary agent with Hartline Literary Agency, and I am blessed to represent all three of these authors.

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

My credits include many novels, novellas, and some Bible trivia bools. I invite you to find out about them at: http://www.tamelahancockmurray.com/. I am excited that two of my Bible trivia books, BIBLE SURVIVAL and LOST AND FOUND, have just been reissued as a set in one book. I am honored that my most recent Heartsong Presents novel, THE MASTER’S MATCH, was among readers’ top picks for the year. The cover also received recognition. I am grateful to the talented people who put together such beautiful artwork.

What is the hardest thing about writing a part of a novella collection?

Writing about settings other than where you grew up or where you have travelled often presents a challenge to me. I want to be sure to make the setting as authentic as I can, at the very least including landmarks and appropriate plants, birds, and temperature. I have enjoyed visiting Texas but for me, writing the setting wasn’t as organic as writing about my home state of Virginia. For example, I’m cold-natured so my impulse when writing about winter is to have everyone bundled in heavy coats, maybe even fur, but the part of Texas in question here meant people dressed for moderate winters.

How did collaborating with this team impact you?

I am so blessed to be friends with all my collaborators. The set went quite smoothly. It’s great to work with professionals such as Ramona Cecil, Darlene Franklin, and Janelle Mowery.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

We chose the last name to fit the Christmas theme, and Gabriella is named after her grandfather, Gabe. I try to stay with the time period for all my characters. For example, if I am writing a story set in 1880, I try to find popular baby names for the year 1850 or 1860. I have several books to help me.

What did you want the reader to take away from your story?

Gabe’s son wants to reconcile with him after years of unforgiveness. I hope that my story will encourage readers not to put off reconciliation, forgiveness, apologies, or simply contacting a long-lost person to be back in touch. All of us have someone in our lives we need to contact. As soon as you read the last two questions of this interview, please do so! :-)

Are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers? If so, why?

Yes. They are a great organization comprised of many publishing professionals. I like that they welcome beginners as well as people who’ve been in the business for decades. Some organizations have such stringent rules for admission that gaining entry is next to impossible. Other organizations charge high fees for admission. Since so many CBA writers are in ministry, this can be a burden. I appreciate ACFW’s openness to all types of writers, and the fact that for most people, dues are affordable. I also appreciate that they run critique groups, a prayer loop, a main loop, and other loops and forums to help people who want to focus on a specific need or topic. They also run a top notch conference each year.

What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?

Write 1000 words a day. If you do, you will complete a trade-length novel in three months.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 6 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment. Here’s a link.



Edwina said...

I love Christmas settings! Thanks for the opportunity to win this book!


Coolestmommy said...

Thanks, everyone, for sharing about yourselves. It was interesting to meet you and learn more about you. Can't wait to read your novella.

coolestmommy2000 at gmail dot com

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing a great review of all these talented ladies.


Unknown said...

you are invited to follow my blog

Unknown said...

I love Christmas romances! This is one of the book on my must-read list for the upcoming holidays.
Thanks, Lena, for the opportunity on a chance to win a copy.


Laney4 said...

"Write 1000 words a day. If you do, you will complete a trade-length novel in three months."
Great advice! I think it holds true with many things in life, as if we schedule it and "it's written in stone", we're more apt to do it.
Speaking of which, I have told myself to walk every morning and now is the best time, so I'll bid you adieu and say thank you for sharing!

holdenj said...

What a great multi-author interview! I love reading Christmas books before the holidays. Thanks for the chance to win!

Merry said...

I enjoy seeing how the stories tie together and complement when there are several authors. I'd love a chance to win A Woodland's Christmas.

Unknown said...

Christmas settings are some of my favourite! :) Please enter me! :)

Anonymous said...

Please enter me in this contest, I love stories with a Christmas theme.


Janelle said...

Hi everyone! So glad you took the time to pop in and check out the interviews. Hope you all get a chance to read the book and enjoy each story. God bless, and I hope you each have a wonderful holiday season.

Katrina said...

I loved the interview. Thanks for the chance at what looks like a great book.

Kim Vogel Sawyer said...

I saw this book all over Ohio and got all excited. Cannot wait to read it in its entirety!

Megan said...

I love Christmas books, and this one sounds fantastic! Thanks Lena!


Jodie Wolfe said...

I love Christmas books! I also love the advice of write 100 words a day for three months and you'll have a completed manuscript. Wow! Guess I need to start working! :)

Jodie Wolfe

Ramona Cecil said...

Hi all! I'm glad you stopped by to check out our interviews and A Woodland Christmas. I really enjoyed working on this collection with Darlene, Janelle, and Tamela. I'm really proud of how it turned out and think you will enjoy the stories. Good luck to all in the drawing!

Janelle said...

Hey Kim, it's all over Ohio? Can't wait to see it all over Texas!

Bakersdozen said...

I love these type of novellas and would love to win. vidomich(at)yahoo(dot)com

Edna said...

I would love this Christmas book with 3 stories it would be so great. I love to read these all year long. Please enter me


Linda Kish said...

I love to read Christmas books.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Cindy W. said...

I absolutely love stories set during the Christmas season. They always seem so magical. I would love to be entered into your giveaway to win A Woodlands Christmas. The cover, by the way, is beautiful. Thank you for the chance to win a copy.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.


Theresa N. said...

I love all the Christmas books coming out now!!
Theresa N

Mozi Esme said...

Love the "how do you choose your characters' names" question!

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Simply Stacie said...

Please count me in.

The Herd said...

Love Christmas books and love to share them with friends and family!

apple blossom said...

Oh, I love Christmas stories. I'd love to win this book. thanks

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

grannyvon said...

It's so hot today I need to be remined that Christmas will be here before I know it. It's time to start making a list and picking up a few things. I would love to win this book maybe it will really put me in the mood. It's my favorite time of the year.

Darlene Franklin said...

Hi everyone! Grannyvon, you're right, it's hard to imagine a snowy Christmas when the temperature is 90 degrees outside. Fortunately Barbour times the contracts for the novellas so that we are writing our novellas during the Christmas season. I will be writing my 4th novella this year, coming out next fall (Christmas at Barncastle Inn)

Thanks to everyone for stopping by.

Sheila Deeth said...

Sounds a fun writing challenge. And great interviews. I'd love to read the result.

Kameko said...

All of these stories sound fantastic as stand alone books - grouped together in one book - what a treasure! I enjoyed each interview, but I think what will really stay with me is what each author said they hoped the reader will take with them from reading their story.

Thank each of you for not only writing such wonderful books but for taking the time to visit with Lena and providing the chance to win this novella.

Blessings to all!


Jo said...

I just love reading Christmas stories. Please enter me.


karenk said...

please count me in..thanks :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

peachykath said...

I love Christmas books, please enter me in the drawing.


Patsy said...

This book sounds really good. Really enjoy reading about Christmas time. Looking forward to reading this one. Thanks for giving away a copy.

Cherie J said...

Enjoyed the interview! Please enter me in the drawing. Thank you!

scottsgal said...

I love Christmas stories - thanks for the chance
msboatgal at aol.com

Unknown said...

Great interviews and information shared by each author. How could anyone go wrong...Christmas stories and a terrific lineup of authors...big winners all around. Thanks for the giveaway, ladies; and the chance to win. Sure hope I do!

Sharing Christ's Love,
Barb Shelton
barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

Bluerose said...

I always enter for any Christmas books for my momma. She "collects" them. (She always lets me borrow them, though). :)

wmmahaney said...

I love Christmas stories! Thanks for the great books you offer.

A J Hawke said...

A Woodlands Christmas sounds like several intriguing stories.

Please enter me in the drawing.

A J Hawke

misskallie2000 said...

Hi Romona, Darlene, Janelle and Tamela, Great interview and I love it when two or more authors get together and write a novella. I love all Christmas stories and this one sounds like a wonderful book. Thanks for stopping by to chat with us.

Lena, Thanks for hosting and the opportunity to enter this giveaway.

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

Darlene Franklin said...

The temperatures have cooled (a tiny bit), choirs will soon start practicing Christmas music -- we are heading towards the wonderful celebrations at the end of the year. Thanks to everyone who has stopped by!

rubynreba said...

These books would be a great addition to anyone's library. Thanks.