Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Every Story has its Own Story

Lillian Duncan…Stories of faith mingled… with murder & mayhem. 

Lillian is a multi-published writer who writes the type of books she loves to read—suspense with a touch of romance. Whether as an educator, a writer, or a speech pathologist, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.

To learn more about Lillian and her books, visit her website.  She also has a devotional blog as well as her personal blog, Tiaras &Tennis Shoes.

The Story Behind The Story

I’m often asked from where do I get my ideas? It’s not an easy question to answer. I don’t have a one-size-fits-all answer for this question.

It seems as if every story has its own story. But let me assure you they don’t come from own life experiences! I’ve never been involved in a murder mystery or had someone intent on killing me! At least not that I know of!

Some of my stories start from a single scene that’s popped into my head. Others come from a situation, such as Pursued. In that story, I wanted to explore the differences between city people and country folk but wanted a twist so my female character was the powerful lawyer who finds herself attracted to a farmer.

Betrayed and Redemption came from characters that were first introduced in Deception. And Deception came from a scene that popped into my head about a little girl and a phone call. My Deadly Communication series came from two different conversations I had in the same week.

So each story has its own story.

My latest book, BIRTHRIGHT, has a unique story. It came from a dream I had. So far, it’s the only one that happened that way.

One night I had a dream. The moment I woke up I ran up to my computer and wrote a paragraph about the dream. Later that day, I added a few more paragraph…and that was the beginning of BIRTHRIGHT.

Not only is BIRTHRIGHT unique because of how it came to be, but it’s all unique because it’s completely different from my other books. I write suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense, but this is a supernatural horror story.

Definitely out of the box. I love to read books like that, such as those by Frank Peretti and James L. Rubart.
But I never thought I’d write one.

When it was finished, it was finished. It was a story I wrote for myself. Mostly so I could get it out of my head. I didn’t submit it to be considered for publication. 

But every now and then I’d take it out, read it, revise and polish it a bit more. I loved the story, but didn’t do anything about getting it published. 

Until now.
After I turned my final edits in for the next in my Deadly Communication series (Deadly Intent), I started working on a different novel, but suddenly BIRTHRIGHT seemed to be calling my name.

This time I listened.

BIRTHRIGHT tells the story of Sam Langstrom and it spans from before the Civil War to the present. The Beginning is set in pre-Civil War times when Sam’s birthright begins. The Middle is in the seventies and eighties where we learn about his own family. And The End happens in contemporary times as Sam must decide if he will or will not accept his birthright.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

Is evil real? Does it prowl around like a lion searching for its next victim?

Sam Langstrom knows the answer to those questions. He’s known since he was a child. Evil is not only real, but his birthright.

But can a man change his destiny?

With God’s help, Sam believes he’s put the ghosts of his childhood behind him. Now a preacher with a wife and a child of his own, life is good. Right up until that moment when his house explodes in front of his eyes—with his child inside.
The ghosts are back.

He has one chance to save his child, but to do so means to turn his back on God. Will he accept his birthright—bow down to the evil? Will he give the lion its final victory—his soul?

To celebrate the release of BIRTHRIGHT, I’m giving away money! Well money in the form of a $10 Amazon gift card. Two more will win a $5 gift card. All you have to do is hop on over to my blog and leave a comment under the Birthright post.

Winners will be picked on March 17!

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Artist & Author ~ Mary L. Bell

Mary L. Ball writes inspirational fiction. She lives in North Carolina and weaves stories about real life problems, blended with romance. Mary hopes to encourage people to see the wonder of love and divine guidance. Her novels include, Escape to Big Fork Lake, Stone of Destiny, Postmarked Ever After, Christmas at Angel Ranch and Redemption in Big Fork Lake. When she’s not working on her latest story, she enjoys fishing, reading, and singing with her husband at various functions. Readers can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Where do you get your ideas for your books? What sparked this story?
From TV, the internet, or most anything I hear will turn into an idea if I contemplate the situation, and feel strong about offering a different approach.
The readers of my debut novel, Escape to Big Fork Lake brought forth my inspiration for Redemption in Big Fork Lake. Many asked, “What happened to Rob?” (He was a bad guy in Escape to Big Fork Lake.)

Redemption in Big Fork Lake is Rob’s story.       

Did anything strange or funny happen while writing this book?
Nothing odd, but I did learn that alcohol addiction has many different categories.    

Did you always want to be a writer?
Not in my younger years, I wanted to be an artist. LOL As my faith grew, so did my desire to share in writing about grace and mercy. 

Where do you write, a coffee shop, attic nook, or a cave?

I write either in one of two places, in my office on my desktop. My desk sits beside a window; a Rhododendron tree grows a few feet from the window. I have a bird feeder in the branch. I enjoy writing with the sun shining in and the birds feasting on seed.

I also write in the living room, sitting in my rocker with my laptop. This is mostly when hubby is home and wants me to be in the same room with him. J   

Of all your characters, which was your favorite and why?
I think Robert, from Redemption. I disliked him in Escape to Big Fork Lake, but as he grew in Redemption in Big Fork Lake, I discovered his journey in life mimics a lot of our travels, especially when it comes to forgiveness. 

Now for the fun: Tell us 3 things your readers might not know about you.
  • One you’ve already found out. I like to draw. I’m not great, but I can do fairly well.
  • My weakness is Pizza, I will eat it anytime, ever for breakfast.
  • Although I like small town living, I’m not the gardening or canning type so you want see me digging in the dirt, unless it’s to find fishing worms for the lake. 

If you were a musical instrument, what would you be and why?
A saxophone because it’s smooth sounding, but can blast out when the tempo calls for it.

My hubby says, “yes that’s just like you.”

Can he be forgiven?

Only after Robert Turner hurts a woman does he realize how much of a hold alcohol has on his life. 

For Robert, a chance meeting with an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor offers hope. A new devotion to the Lord and a relationship with Belle McBride gives him expectations for a better future.

His life appears to be on the right track, until he comes full circle with his past and faces the one mistake that haunts him daily. Can forgiveness-free Robert or will heartache drive him to return to the life he once had?

Monday, March 02, 2015

Meet my Spekkie friend Ralene Burke

Whether she’s wielding a writer’s pen, an editor’s sword, or a social media wand, Ralene Burke always has her head in some dreamer’s world. And her goal is to make it SHINE! She spins fantastical tales of that place where the light pierces the darkness. She’s worked for a variety of groups/companies, including The Christian PEN, Realm Makers, Kentucky Christian Writers Conference, Splickety Publishing Group, and as an editor for a number of freelance clients. When her head’s not in the publishing world, she is wife to a veteran and homeschooling mama to their three kids. Her Pinterest board would have you believe she is a master chef, excellent seamstress, and all around crafty diva. If she only had the time . . .

Where do you get your ideas for your books? What sparked the "what if" for your current story?
As any creative knows, our ideas come from anywhere and everywhere. Some of my stories have come from dreams, what ifs, shower time . . . The idea for my latest story, though, came during some research I was doing for an article. Then it hit me—what if the Armor of God were real? And, of course, the speculative fiction side of me just took off.

Did anything strange of funny happen while writing this book?
Well, it took me about 3 months to write the first draft, and then like a year to edit it. Lots of ups and downs in that year as my family was transitioning from military to civilian life and dealing with my husband’s health issues. A lot of perspective went into my writing as a direct result of what I was going through.

Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes. Though I let a lot of people talk me out of it for many years. I finally came to my senses and began to follow God’s calling somewhere around 2008.

Where do you write, a coffee shop, attic nook, or a cave?
We’re doing a bit of reorganizing and decluttering throughout my house right now, so my office has become a bit of a “storage” place, so I’ll decline from attaching a picture. But I do have an office with two large windows and a wall that has a full-length, floor-to-ceiling bookshelf. My L-shaped desk holds my computer and my host of writing/editing books and project notebooks. The closet, though, holds all of my untouched knitting, sewing, and craft supplies. One of these days . . .

Of all your characters, which was your favorite and why?
Oh, that’s a hard one. I’m sure someone else has mentioned that choosing a favorite character is like choosing your favorite child. HA! I think the healer’s apprentice is my latest WIP is my favorite. She’s the main character, and despite her rough life, she’s rather upbeat and compassionate. Like me, she still questions God’s calling on her life, but she still follows where He leads—even with all her worries and her doubts.

Share a few of the techniques you learned that changed the way you write.
Showing vs. Telling is probably one of the most influential guidelines that changed my writing. Learning how to bring the reader into the world and having him/her experience life right along with the characters is so important.

Also, making sure that secondary characters had their own stories, character arcs, etc. helped to bring the story to life. The protagonist(s) are not the only people who have lives in a story.

Now for the fun: Tell us 3 things your readers might not know about you. 
  • I’m allergic to coffee. (SFF: WHAT? That's terrible!!)
  • My favorite writer as a child was Shel Silverstein.
  • The only person I’ve ever been afraid to walk up and introduce myself to was Frank Peretti—but I still managed to get my picture with him. 

If you were a musical instrument, what would you be and why?
A drum—after all, as a “spekkie” (as we call speculative fiction writers at Realm Makers), I march to my own beat!

I don’t actually have a back cover yet. Although, I’ve done some blurbs in the past for fun or contests. However, due to a current contest, I cannot post the back cover for my current WIP. However, you might like this peek at my supernatural suspense:

Dividing Spirits

Ninevah Mendenhall woke up in the hospital with no memory. Instead, she discovers a new gift that helps her discern between good and evil—even angels and demons.
After witnessing a murder, she joins up with an FBI agent, who thinks she’s a lunatic, and a pastor, who believes in her ability.
Each with their own demons to battle, they soon find their tribulations are woven together by one source. In a rush against time, they must uncover the vile plan of a vengeful demon on the fast track with 21st century technology.
If they fail, Christianity as they know it will be the ultimate victim.

Ralene has 2 devotions in a compilation book, Fear Not, put out by Anne Baxter Campbell. Here's the cover and link:

SFF: Well, I for can't wait to see Ralene published in fiction. She's worked hard and has learned her craft.