Author interview ~ Lisa Carter

As
a frequent speaker and vocalist at women’s ministry events, Lisa Carter shares
her own journey of faith regarding the sufficiency of the cross and His grace
in her life. Aloha Rose, a
contemporary romance in the Quilts of
Love
series, released this month. Her debut romantic suspense novel, Carolina
Reckoning
released in August. She is a member of ACFW, RWA, and Sisters in
Crime. She and her husband have two daughters and make their home in North
Carolina. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys traveling to romantic locales,
quilting, and researching her next exotic adventure. Visit Lisa’s website and for behind-the-scenes
photos, visit the Aloha
Rose board on Pinterest
Lisa, what sparked the story of Aloha Rose?

Long
ago, a college friend shared her struggles regarding her adoption with me. Her
unanswered questions—despite a loving, adoptive home—about the most fundamental
of identity issues such as who she was, where she came from, why she’d been
given up for adoption, and what all this meant for the person she’d become. A
void lingered inside her that she yearned to fill.
Years later, she related how she’d located her birth father
in Hawaii and how a wonderful, new chapter in her life opened. Through a
difficult personal journey, she and her family had come full circle.
Two days after my reunion with my college friend, my agent
and Abingdon Press asked for a book proposal involving romance tied to “every
quilt has a story” for the Quilts of Love
series. Reflecting on my friend’s story, the seed of Aloha Rose was born. Hawaiian quilts are very different than other
traditional quilts. And just like my friend’s emotional journey, Laney Carrigan
in Aloha Rose and the Lokelani quilt come full circle, too.
What would you do differently if you were starting your
publishing career today?
I feel that my entire career has
been in God’s hands. He led; He opened doors; He closed other doors.
Maybe I’d learn to be better at
Twitter? Maybe not.
Share a bit of your journey to publication.
In 2009, God laid a story upon my
heart and a compulsion to write it down that wouldn’t go away. I’d written for
myself, as a freelancer, and for church organizations most of my life. But
during this season in my life, God literally compelled me that now was the time
to get serious about my secret dream of writing down the stories swirling in my
head and that these stories were to be used for His glory. I wrote the story
that became my debut, Carolina Reckoning,
and God led me to a person who suggested a writing conference.
I attended the conference and God
led a multi-published romantic suspense author to take a mentoring interest in
me. I attended several more conferences and God was always faithful in leading
me one step further along the road to publication. I wrote three other
manuscripts; I listened; I studied; I learned more about the craft of writing
and the publishing industry. In 2011, I received the call from Abingdon Press
regarding my Aloha Rose proposal. But
Carolina Reckoning actually became my
first published novel, releasing in August 2013. It has been a whirlwind of
fun, hard work, and ministry ever since.
Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy
nook?
I move around a lot during the
day. I start out—(this time of year) underneath a cozy, flannel quilt I made—on
the couch beside the gas logs. When the power on my Mac goes, I shuffle
upstairs to re-plug and recharge at my desk in my office. Later, I may shift to
a loveseat in the sitting area of my office. By the time my children arrive
home from school, after a daily school debriefing, I return to the downstairs
sofa to do last minute, end of day stuff while dinner preparations are in
process.
What would you do if you didn’t write?
I taught school the majority of
the time I wrote my current and upcoming releases. Now as a full-time writer,
if I wasn’t writing I’d be reading and having lunch with friends. And
volunteering more at church and school. And possibly—although this is
debatable—actually preparing better, more nutritious meals.
What issue makes you struggle as an author? How do you
handle it?
Marketing is a necessity for an
author in this age of publishing in the 21st century. But marketing
and promotion eat up a significant amount of writing time. I’m still working to
balance the marketing versus writing versus real-life responsibilities of being
a wife and mother. Some days are better than others. Some days are more
successful than others.
How do I handle it? I pray a lot.
And depend on God a lot. The days I try to do it on my own are usually the
failure, I’ve-let-everybody-down days.
What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer?
Read in your genre. A lot.
Write every day.
Attend the best conference once a
year you can afford.
Then what 3 things would recommend not doing?
Don’t listen to the lies of the
Enemy.
Don’t listen to the nay-sayers.
Don’t give up.
Some say a writer is born and others say anyone can learn.
What do you think?
I think a writer’s unique “voice”
is God-given. Discovering your voice is often a result of trial and error. I
think anyone can learn to write to a certain degree—otherwise there would be no
need for English teachers and high school graduation requirements.
But one of the most encouraging
things to me as a writer came from Elizabeth George—”You will be published if
you possess three qualities—talent, passion, and discipline.”
And the most important of these?
Not talent, or passion. But discipline—perseverance. The ability to keep on
keeping on. Writing one word after the other. Never quitting. Never giving up.
What’s the strangest or funniest experience you’ve had in
writing?
Olivia’s story in Beneath a Navajo Moon—releasing March
2014—came to me in a dream. The whole thing in its entirety.
But being a pantser writer—I know
the beginning and the end but the middle is quite murky—therefore, writing each
story by the seat of my pants is a huge adventure. I’m living moment-by-moment,
scene-by-scene with every character and sometimes they do the
funniest/strangest/most surprising things I did not foresee.
Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? How
do you feel about research?
I love research and do most of it
before I ever write the first word. I love the exhilarating time when I’m
crafting and creating the story. Those months of writing the first draft are
enormously thrilling and rewarding to me as I see a story, theme, and pretend
people’s lives come together. Editing makes it better. I view the first draft
being like a great slab of stone and it’s my job to chip away past the flaws to
reveal the story contained within. That’s what editing means to me.
Do you consider yourself a visual writer? If so, what
visuals do you use?
I am such a visual writer. I
cannot begin until I have “cast” my characters with real people faces. They
cannot live and move and have their being in my mind until I do this. I collect
visual settings for scenes, too. I love Scrivener and utilize the research and
character functions for this purpose.
What are your writing rituals?
After getting my children off to
school, I like to read over the last scene I wrote the day before to plunge
myself back into the novel moment. Then, I’ll go for a walk or bike ride,
allowing the stream of my unconscious to flow and work it’s magic on the
chapter or scene I know I need to write that day. I get into the shower and
literally and figuratively allow the stream to continue. By the time I’m ready
to sit down at the computer, I’ve actually visualized entire scenes and
segments of dialogue in my mind and the words “flow” onto the screen.
Do you work best under pressure or do you write at a
leisurely pace??
While teaching, I had to be very
disciplined to write in the 2 hour segments I would have after returning from
school myself and waiting for my children to get home. I’ve learned to “salt”
the creative mine while occupied with other tasks and then once seated at the
computer to be ready to go with the next scene.
Sure, I love leisurely writing
time. I’d written 6 complete novels before my first ever hit the shelf. I’m so
thankful for that breathing space between contract and publication. Because
now, its go, go, go with writing and marketing demands.
What are your thoughts on critique partners?
I participated in a critique group
with a wonderful foursome of lady writers I met at the Blue Ridge Mountain
Christian Writers Conference. For over a year we met once a month to critique
chapters, encourage and pray for each other. I write extremely fast once I get
going and my writing style benefits more from having one critique partner go
over my final, best edited version manuscript.
Any final thoughts?
I hope Aloha Rose
will make readers laugh. It may perhaps make you cry. But most of all, I pray Aloha Rose will warm your heart with the
greatest of loves, God’s love for you.
Aloha Rose
When Laney Carrigan sets out to find her birth family, her
only clue is the Hawaiian quilt in which she was found wrapped as an infant.
Centering her search on the Big Island and battling fears of rejection, Laney
begins a painstaking journey toward her true heritage. Kai Barnes, however, is
determined to protect the people he’s come to regard as family. He thinks Laney
is nothing more than a gold digger and blocks every move she makes toward her
Hawaiian family. As their conflict escalates, it puts at risk the one thing
that Kai and Laney both want most—a family. 

Time—The Stuff Life is Made Of Five Tips on Finding More of It — Anita Higman

Time—The Stuff Life is Made Of
Five Tips on Finding More of It
by Anita Higman
Benjamin Franklin said, “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.” 
Okay, I don’t know anyone who gets up in the morning with the idea of squandering their time, and yet we all do it. At the end of the day, we wonder how all those precious hours slipped away. Where did they go? But, the time is indeed gone, and there’s no getting it back.
However, there is good news. We can train ourselves to use our time more wisely. I am not a time management expert. However, I am an author, and that has forced me to work a little smarter, since with each passing year, I’m expected to help out more and more when a book is released. That is, more participation in a publisher’s promotional efforts. More social media. More blogging. More out-of-the-box marketing. More everything.
With some tweaks, though, in my management of time, I have more hours for promotion, more time to spend with my grown kids, and even more time for refreshment, such as those empty-nester vacations. So, here are my five tips for organizing that precious thing called time. 
Tip Number 1: You’re Not Superman 
I think it’s vital to accept this truth—WE CANNOT DO EVERYTHING. It’s not humanly possible anyway. To think otherwise will only make us perpetually angry or make other people perpetually angry at us. Or we’ll be fatigued all the time or make ourselves ill trying to be super author or super anything. Also, when it comes to donating our time (even to good causes) we need to be discerning. Sometimes the word “no” is appropriate, even though it might be uncomfortable to say it. So, after we accept our limitations, and we’re able to choose our extracurricular activities wisely, we’ll automatically have more time for what’s important. 
Tip Number 2: Delegate is a Beautiful Word 
What daily tasks could be delegated to other folks, either with the help of volunteers or with a bit of part-time paid assistance? For instance, I pay a webmaster to manage my website as well as some of my other online sites. My husband helps me with some of my smaller jobs that I no longer have time for. Do you know someone who can assist you, say, a few hours a week? 
Tip Number 3: Multitasking Still Works
When I watch a movie with my husband, I use that time for a potpourri of boring and time-consuming tasks, such as sewing on buttons, ironing clothes, or bleaching my teeth. I might let a clay mask dry on my face, jump on a mini-trampoline, do floor stretches, put an icepack on my back if it’s inflamed from a long day at the computer, fold laundry, or anything else I can think of to do that might otherwise consume my time unnecessarily. I admit, though, that if it’s a movie I haven’t seen yet, or a new episode of Downton Abbey, then I may sit and enjoy it, calling it a special treat. But if it’s a rerun or a movie I’ve seen before, then I pull out my various ta-do chores. 
Tip Number 4: Cook Smart
When making meatloaf or spaghetti or other dishes that freeze well, make extra, enough for several dinner-sized portions to thaw and heat on evenings when you’re out of groceries. Also, while I’m just standing there cooking and tending the evening meal, I might mull over a few manuscript page, or scribble notes on a proposal or brainstorm some book titles. 
Tip Number 5: What to do With All That Waiting! 
Right now, I’m sitting in the dentist’s office, and I’m busy writing this very article on time management while I’m waiting. I’m utilizing a personal writing tool called the Neo 2. I take this small, handy device with me when I think I might end up playing “the waiting game.” Also, if I’m standing in a long line, I sometimes read a book. There are so many possibilities. When we’re in traffic we can listen to an audio book or a CD that builds vocabulary words or that teaches a language. Try brainstorming fresh ways to use what could potentially become “lost hours” in the future. Yes, be wise with your time, because as Benjamin Franklin said, “That’s the stuff life is made of.” 
Anita Higman is a CBA best-selling and award-winning author. Among her many accolades, Higman has won the Inspirational Reader’s Choice award twice. She has written or co-authored more than 30 books, including fiction and non-fiction for adults and children, as well as plays. Higman has also been recognized for her contributions to literacy and has raised thousands of dollars with her book I Can Be Anything while serving on the board of directors of Literacy Advance of Houston.
Even though she’s written in many genres, Higman does have her favorite. “I love inspirational romance. There’s just nothing else like it for writing and reading. It naturally makes you want to curl up on an overstuffed couch and read the day away.” Her latest release is A Marriage in Middlebury
She loves good movies, exotic teas and brunch with her friends. Higman and her husband live in Houston, TX.

To keep up with Anita Higman, visit anitahigman.com, become a fan on Facebook (Author Anita Higman) or follow her on Twitter (@anitahigman).

Being Thankful When You’re Not

Why me?
Why did I end up with a post on Thanksgiving on a website to
encourage other writers? Why, when this writing season of mine has been driest
I’ve experienced in years, and with my recent job hunt, threatens to be the
toughest season of all? Writing a post on Thanksgiving could only mean one
thing. I had to come up with some platitude of why I’m thankful for my writing
journey and sound sincere, right? Well, if you’ve come to know me and my
writing you know I can’t fake it. Don’t even want to try. Besides, a while ago
I already mentioned what
I would change about my writing journey
, so being less than truthful would
be, well, lying, and I have my tagline to maintain. Always Real, Sometimes Raw, Definitely Redemptive. So let’s see if
I can keep with my brand and the
title of this post.
Let me start by saying I’m very thankful for many things in
my life. God. Family. Friends. Health. I’m even thankful for the little things
like dancing and not having a full time job right now so technically I should have more time to write. I’d also
be amiss if I didn’t mention my loyal critique partner who pushes me just
enough, but still I’m not consistent in my writing to give him anything to do
but make bitstrip cartoons of him taunting me. So it’s not that there is nothing
to be thankful for, it’s about sometimes not feeling it because my focus is off.
So my advice for being thankful when you’re not…

Feel
Don’t fake it until you make it just yet. Feel what you’re
feeling. Write it out. Journal. Whine, gripe, and complain to safe,
understanding people and get it out of your system. You’ll be surprised that
when the negative emotional energy passes through your body, you’re left with
peace. Which leaves room for…
Focus
It’s easy to be so focused on the big picture that you miss
what’s right in front of you. You might have your life and career all mapped
out. You see your destination, but if you don’t focus on your next step, the things
you can control to hasten your journey, then you’ll drive yourself crazy and
probably miss a few important pit stops.
Freedom
Freedom comes with a price. Examine your life and try and
figure out what price you’re willing to pay for your freedom. Is it
surrendering your writing to a process you might not understand? Is it working
harder or smarter? Is it letting go of worry and taking things one day at a
time?

I can’t guarantee if you follow my three simple steps that
you’ll suddenly get all Pollyannaish, but I do think it’s a great place to
start.
Your turn: How do you embrace thankfulness when you don’t
feel it?

Gina Conroy is founder of Writer…Interrupted and is still learning how to balance a career with raising a family. Represented by Chip MacGregor, she finds time to write fun, quirky mysteries in between carpooling and ballroom dancing .  Her first mystery Cherry Blossom Capers, released from Barbour Publishing in January 2012, and Digging Up Death is available now.

A REAL LIVE RED-HEADED, GREEN-EYED HEROINE?

Well, that’s Cindy Sproles in the flesh, complete with a beautiful smile, a contagious laugh, and outgoing personality. You can’t miss her. And I’m sure glad I didn’t.

I met her at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in 2004. She was a beginner, said she was scared, not sure what to do, but it sure looks like she’s done the right things.

“First,” she says, “I realized in order to write my best for God, I needed a deeper relationship with him.” She began to pray for understanding and ability. Then she put her fingers to the keyboard and focused on devotional writing. Not just occasionally. She wrote a devotion every day for four years. That’s determination!

Now, with all her other activities, she writes one devotion a week.

Cindy, along with Eddie Jones, founded Christian Devotions Ministry (ChristianDevotions.us). The two of them penned He Said, She Said devotions for over seven years then collected them into the best-selling devotional titled… ta dah… He Said, She Said.

As she began to take her steps along her writing journey, one thing led to another. She learned the craft of writing devotions and began holding retreats for others wanting to write them. Her efforts did not always come easily, but typical of Cindy, she said, “When things get tough, God doesn’t call us to retreat. He calls us to advance.”

 One thing led to another and before long, The Billy Graham Training Center, The Cove, in Asheville, NC opened its doors for Cindy’s next venture. Now she is director of Writers ADVANCE! Boot Camp.

“I understand how it feels to not know the lingo or understand what to do at a conference,” she says. “So I make it my goal to help new conferees make the best of their conference time.”

She has a love for the beginner, and delights in teaching new conferees, but the Workshop also offers a strong track for advanced writers.

Between the amazing venue of The Cove, to the unique format of Writers Advance, conferees walk away filled up and sent out. That’s only one facet that makes Writers ADVANCE! so special.

Registration is limited and fills quickly for this reasonably priced conference held at The Billy Graham Training Center, better known as The Cove, in the panoramic mountains of Asheville NC. The conference dates are February 21-23, 2014 and registrations can be made through www.writersadvancebootcamp.com.

 I, Yvonne Lehman, am privileged to be included among the faculty. Some others are Steven James, Lynette Eason, Mike Dellosso, Ann Tatlock, Lori Hatcher, Edie Melson, Denise Loock, Janet Roller and of course, our red-headed, green-eyed heroine who makes ADVANCE such an enjoyable, instructive, happy time for writers.

In 2011, Cindy’s collection of devotions, New Sheets, was a finalist for a Selah Award. She has a very unique, creative concept for this book. She writes:

Need to change your husband? Change your sheets. Want to change jobs?
Change your sheets. Long for a new life? Just change your sheets.

God uses our life experiences to shape us. When the friction of frustration chaffs the skin, God offers us respite and rest. Sleeping on worn-out sheets meant holding on to the past, but new sheets…new sheets marked a fresh start. The slate wiped clean. Crisp. Fresh. New.

With each monumental event in her life, she tossed out the old and ushered in the new with a set of fresh new sheets. From the cheapest muslin to the most expensive Egyptian cotton, she saw how God was shaping her into the woman she needed to be.

Cindy has come a long way in her writing journey. She speaks for women’s conferences and writers conferences nationwide. She is an acquisitions editor for Lighthouse Publications of the Carolinas.

In 2014 Kregel Publications will release her first novel, Where the River Begins.
Cindy sounds like a heroine to me… and she’s very likeable!