Women of Faith and Fiction ~ Denise Weimer

Welcome to a new edition of Women of Faith and Fiction. Thank you for joining me. I’m so glad you’re here! My first guest of the New Year is Denise Weimer!

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Denise Weimer writes historical and contemporary romance and romantic suspense set in her home state of Georgia. She’s authored eleven novels and a number of novellas. As a managing editor at Smitten Historical Romance and Heritage Beacon Fiction, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, she also helps others reach their publishing dreams. A wife and mother of two daughters, Denise always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses.

Professional

Denise, who is your all-time favorite character? This can be one of your own or another author’s character.

Probably whichever one I’m currently writing about. LOL. I’m not big on favorites, but one I respected was Jenny White in my Across Three Autumns novella in The Backcountry Brides Collection (2018). She was inspired by a real woman from Revolutionary War Georgia, Nancy Hart, a six-foot-tall, red-haired, cross-eyed frontierswoman who spied on the British and held Loyalists and natives at bay with her crack shot. Jenny isn’t cross-eyed, but she is “ginger pated” and “raw boned” and utterly convinced no man could ever love her … especially compared to her dainty younger sister. Until she meets Caylan McIntosh, an impossibly persistent Scottish scout for Colonel Elijah Clark. Oh, what an action-packed love story. And I believe most women can relate to Jenny’s struggle to appreciate her own attributes.

I agree. My favorite character is the one I’m currently writing or reading about. Now, please share what your latest book is about?

I have two releasing in March. They’re quite a departure from my previous historicals. Spring Splash came about after fifteen years as a swim mom, so it captures all the heartache and comebacks that happen both in romance and sports. Traces was inspired by a TV show filmed in nearby Atlanta and actual military technology.

Spring Splash: When an injury sidelines college swimmer Anna Callaway, her dreams are crushed. She pours herself into her sports marketing practicum, helping a local special needs organization promote their athletic event. What she doesn’t expect is a swim team ripe for the Special Olympics—and their handsome but stubborn coach.

Craig Holt has dealt with eager and ignorant volunteers before. No matter how determined or persuasive uptight Anna might be about coaching his team to the Special Olympics, he has no intention of allowing her to raise the hopes of his swimmers, his sister, or his guarded heart.

Then Anna herself gets a second chance at becoming a champion. Will she pursue her lifelong goals or make room for a new dream?

Traces: When a failed romance and a $500,000 prize lure Kate Carson into participating in the reality TV show, Traces, the least she expects is to pick her partner. After all, she’s the PR spokeswoman of the company that derived a thirteen-lens, rotating camera from military use and installed it atop Atlanta’s tallest skyscraper. But she never would have chosen to evade techno hunters for twenty days with “G.I. Joe.”

Stoic, ex-military Alex Mitchell is the sort of man she always vowed to avoid, while the shadows of Alex’s past cause him to spurn emotional involvement. When Kate’s insider knowledge makes her a target of someone more threatening than game show hunters, Alex offers her only hope to reveal the dark plans of proponents of The Eye.

Love your covers! I’ll have to add this to my reading list! Please, tell us about your writing process.

I always start with research, typing everything I glean into a Word document where I also paste location and character images, maps, and timelines. I add the main plot points to make sure I don’t have any sagging spots in the story. Then I start to write, pausing to edit each chapter before going on to the next. My editing training has helped me to write tighter and cleaner up front, but I still call on several beta readers before sending any novel to my agent.

Thank you for those great writing tips! What is your best marketing tip?

Be prepared to invest time and money to get a return, especially as a new author. Plan a balance of online promotions and in-person signings. Invest your resources where your target audience is. And block time off from writing when your books release, because for about three months after your novel hits the shelves, marketing will become almost a full-time job. It requires a totally different side of your brain, and for most introverted authors, it can be draining. So consider focusing any writing during that window to guest blogging that will help promote your new novel.

Great plan! Moving on . . . What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Prepare yourself before starting your novel by attending classes or reading books on the craft. Keep up to date on trends in publishing (i.e. deep POV, active voice). What would’ve sold ten years ago won’t necessarily sell now. Lean on a critique partner, beta readers, or a professional to edit your work before submitting. Meanwhile, build your social media connections. If you’ve previously published, promote those works to beef up sales numbers and reviews. Weakness in those areas are the main reasons we have to turn away submissions as managing editors with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas—not lack of talent.

Thank you for that nugget of wisdom! My next question is . . . do you choose a word or a scripture for each year or each story? If so, please share.

I tend to choose a theme for each story. Some of the themes I’ve incorporated into past books include second chances (Fall Flip), God using what seems to be a failure/surrendering our gifts to God (The Witness Tree), self-worth (Across Three Autumns), and faithfulness and forgiveness (The Restoration Trilogy). My heroines in Spring Splash and Traces both struggle with perfectionism, while the men are challenged to let down walls they’ve put up through past hurt. I incorporate Scriptures as needed to support those themes as the characters go through their developmental arcs.

Along those same lines, I don’t like to write static primary characters, those who seem perfect and sweet the whole way through the story. I prefer to write about people struggling with a weakness or a past failure or loss who learn to overcome through God’s strength. If you see rough edges on my characters at the beginning of the story, those rough edges are covering up insecurity of some sort. Hopefully, this makes them relatable, and the reader will see God’s redemptive power at work in the changes that take place by the end of the story.

I agree. Readers relate to imperfect characters. Next question . . . Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Since about age 11, when I started scribbling in my notebooks after my parents took me to visit historic sites throughout the Southeast. My active imagination birthed stories about the places we’d been and the people who lived there.

From where does your inspiration come for your stories?

I believe it comes from God, as penning stories that share His truths is an inborn calling. Secondarily, I often find inspiration in the little-known events and places in the history of my home state of Georgia. I love to explore local legend and lore in story form.

Inspirational

Final question . . . I believe it’s important to encourage each other in our daily walk. Would you share a word of encouragement with our readers?

Please know you are invaluable to authors. A note from you on how a book has blessed your life may be the very word an author needs to keep going. On the flip side, a careless word could crush her spirit. There is just as much power in our words whether we are writers or readers. “The tongue has the power of life and death.” (Proverbs 18:21)

“Secondarily, I often find inspiration in the little-known events and places in the history of my home state of Georgia. I love to explore local legend and lore in story form.” ~ @denise_weimer via Women of Faith and Fiction @GailJohnson87

Denise, thank you for joining me. It was fun learning more about you. Readers, you can connect with Denise here:

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Elaine Stock ~ Women of Faith and Fiction

Elaine Stock is an award-winning author of Women’s & Inspirational Fiction. She joins us this morning on Women of Faith and Fiction to talk about life and writing.

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Good morning, Elaine. Thank you for joining me today. Tell us a little about yourself.

A little? That’s more difficult than sharing a lot—LOL.

I grew up in Brooklyn, NY back in the days before it became a glamorous place for many up and coming professionals. However, I’ve lived upstate, happily married, for more years now than my city days to the point that though visiting cities may be interesting, they make me a bit edgy. Yet, I’m thankful for my childhood days in one of the biggest cities in the world, as well as the era I spent those years and believe I was meant to learn several life lessons there and then for a reason.

Although working at a day job 32 hours a week plus Life 101 keeps me plenty busy, it’s writing (whenever I can!) that keeps me sane.

I love visiting big cities, but I’m happy to see the countryside again. Let’s talk about your writing.

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Why did you choose to write in your particular genre?

I think the genre has chosen me. When I first became serious about taking my passion for writing to the next step of publication I chose the route many were encouraging me to take because it was “easy,” and that was the romance genre for the ABA market. Lesson learned: writing romance (of any nature) is not easy or a sure bet. Any good book comes from hours of honing writing skills. Actually, I believe it’s an ongoing lesson and struggle. Plus, mastering the love of editing.

It wasn’t until I devoted my stories to honor God that I began to see major positive changes. Although I am working on a story that may be more suited for the ABA market, I will never be able to ignore the power and love of God and my faith to remove these elements from any of my novels.

I believe when we honor God, we will always see positive changes. Next question. In your opinion, what is the hardest part of the writing process?

These days, it’s sitting down and writing. By this, I mean making time. I love writing, editing, and even marketing and rather would do this than anything else, job wise. Yet, I have to help make ends meet and I’m physically removed from my faithful laptop far too many hours than I desire. But…I’m working hard on my writing to change that. It all boils down to putting everything in God’s Capable Hands and trusting Him.

I agree, Elaine. Submitting and trusting Him is the perfect solution to our problems. First draft: Pencil or keyboard?

Definitely keyboard. I am a huge seat of the pants writer and am in love with my laptop. I tend to type faster than write by hand and if a story is flowing I love the physical feeling of tapping it out on the keys. LOL—there are quite a few letters on my MacBook Air that have nearly vanished.

Plotter or pantser?

Before I begin writing a story I let the idea—mainly the story’s premise—stew and grow in my mind. Then the characters come to life around these ideas. However, as I said above I am a pantser all the way! Before I gave myself permission to be a SOP writer and would attempt outlines—long or short—I always ended up sighing heavily when the story reached its bye-bye moment. I have a lot of fun seeing where the story takes me rather than where I take the story.

Tea or coffee?

Coffee, please. I must have at least 2 hefty mugs in the morning to fire off my brain. Later on in the afternoon hot decaf tea, hot chocolate (if winter), or plain water is always my companion.

Favorite thing to do when not working?

I enjoy long walks, cooking, reading a good novel, watching an old TV sitcom that makes me laugh (i.e. Frasier) or a movie musical, listening to Bach or Beethoven, or exploring with my husband a quaint New England town, one preferably by the ocean.

Sounds like my kind of adventure!

Inspirational

This year’s theme is sharing hope. In Hebrews, the writer tells us to encourage each other while it is called today. Would you please take a moment to share a brief testimony to encourage our readers?

Hope is a great word to latch onto and to never surrender. Coincidentally, hope is my author’s theme: Women’s and Inspirational Fiction to Uplift with Hope of Better Tomorrows. Why do I center on this? Truthfully, as a child and teen I did not have a lot of hope of a better tomorrow. My family had many problems; I do not have many happy memories. I believe God has always reached out to me—my earliest recollection of believing in some sort of Supreme Being was at the age of 6. It wasn’t until I embraced Jesus as my Savior in my young twenties did joy come into my life. This is why I have a passion to encourage others that brighter days can and will happen.

Elaine thank you so much for joining me and sharing your thought with our friends. Thank you, dear friends, for joining us.

Before you go, Elaine is offering a free book when you sign up for her newsletter. Here’s the link: https://elainestock.com/free-gift-for-you

“I have a lot of fun seeing where the story takes me rather than where I take the story.” ~ @ElaineStock via @GailJohnson87 #authorlife #WFF https://gailjohnsonauthor.com/2019/08/16/elaine-stock-~-women-of-faith-and-fiction/

Book Blurb

The journeys in life take you to unexpected destinations. The love of a good person brings you home.

Kierra Madden, proprietor of the Kindred Lake Inn, struggles for stability after her engagement ends, family strife continues, and business slows. When her mom, sister and teenage niece move in with her, life becomes a lot more complicated. There’s certainly spare room…until one guest arrives…on his bicycle.

Ryan Delaney is fit and trim…quite the eye candy.Ryan, a TV news anchor on a leave of absence following a horrific incident, enjoys the peace long-distance biking offers. Only in town to mend his strained relationship with his teen daughter, he never expects to fall for Kierra fast and hard. Despite her policy of separating business and pleasure, mutual attraction pulls them closer until unforeseen consequences threaten to wedge between them.

Surrounded by springtime beauty, will the temptation of desire bloom into a more powerful and lasting love?

Bio

Elaine Stock is an award-winning author of Women’s & Inspirational Fiction to uplift with hope of better tomorrows. Her novel, Her Good Girl, received the Outstanding Christian/Religious Fiction in the 2018 IAN Book of the Year Awards, 2018 Readers’ Favorite Silver Medal in Christian Fiction and the 2018 American Fiction Awards in the Christian Inspirational category.

Elaine is a member of Women’s Fiction Writers Association, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Romance Writers of America. Born in Brooklyn, NY, Elaine has now been living in upstate, rural New York with her husband for more years than her stint as a NYC gal. She enjoys long walks down country roads, visiting New England towns, and of course, a good book.

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Women of Faith and Fiction ~ Melinda Viergever Inman

Good morning. I met Melinda V. Inman through SeriouslyWrite. She is a wife, mother, grandmother, and a writer. I’m so glad to have her here on Women of Faith and Fiction. Let’s get started!

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Good morning, Melinda. Please tell us about yourself.

My bio reads: Raised on the Oklahoma plains in a storytelling family, Melinda now spins tales from her writer’s cave in the coastal South. Her faith-filled fiction illustrates our human story, wrestling with our brokenness and the storms that wreak havoc in our lives.

My fiction writing has its roots in a broken place. Laughter and well-told punchlines shaped my early life. Then, during years of relocation, personal tragedy struck. Wounded and heartbroken, I ran from myself and from God. After making a general mess of my life, a journey of trial and heartache gradually brought me home again. A prodigal now returned, I write to illustrate God’s love for wounded people as he makes beauty from ashes. My fiction is all about illustrating our human story, wrestling with our brokenness and the storms that wreak havoc in our lives.

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“A prodigal now returned, I write to illustrate God’s love for wounded people as he makes beauty from ashes.” I like that, Melinda. Tell me, why did you choose to write in your particular genre?

As the mother of a large family, I chose to focus on their language first, rather than the language of fictional characters or theological concepts. We homeschooled for twenty-eight years, my kids are precocious, and that kept me fully engaged. During those years, I journaled.

As a student of theology, I assumed I would write non-fiction. But, as the children began arriving at adulthood, one by one, and the time to write drew near, I realized God was leading me toward fiction, for that was how Jesus shared truth most effectively. I write to share the truth of the Gospel—God with us in Christ Jesus, a life-changing reality that transforms our lives. Jesus was a master storyteller, and parables were his most impactful storytelling strategy to promote the Gospel. Fiction is the modern-day parable, and so I borrow his strategies in my fiction.

During the years when the house emptied, I dissected the foundational events in Genesis and engaged in theological classes. When I wrote my Biblical stories of Good and Evil—Fallen and Refuge, I displayed the theological truths of those earliest events in the hearts, minds, and actions of my characters. I wrote imagined conversations and interactions not shown in the Bible, all while adhering carefully to the Biblical record. I hoped that these foundational events in fictional form would impact hearts and lives like Jesus did with his parables. Both books have won international awards in Christian Fiction in this genre, so, thanks be to God, my strategies and hard work were effective. Links: http://bit.ly/RefugeReview and http://bit.ly/FallenReview.

I also wanted to tell the story of my great-grandparents’ courtship and early marriage as World War I began. Their lives are inspirational, and they teach us about the quiet rural life that existed in our heartland and how faith can grow when attempts to reach another with spiritual truth are not forced but are left in God’s hands. So, I added Christian Historical Fiction to my Biblical Fiction. Truth conveyed in story based upon real life is powerful in both genres. No Longer Alone is the first historical novel (http://bit.ly/NoLongerAloneNovel), and The Shadows Come is the sequel. It will release in late 2019, hopefully by Thanksgiving, just in time for Christmas.

In the pile of rough drafts that accumulated when I first began writing fiction, I also had a contemporary love story, because I wanted to explore real Christian stories as lived today. In line with that longing, recently a multi-published author, Parker J. Cole, invited me to join a group of other experienced Christian authors to write a series of novellas. These novels are reminiscent of 7 Brides for 7 Brothers, though set in modern times. We deal with serious topics like racism, misogyny, organized crime, and, of course, love. My novella, a contemporary romance titled Benjamin’s Blessing, is part of our Mafia Princesses and Mountain Men series. Our Book 0 is already available for pre-order here: http://bit.ly/MafiaPrincesses. We publish in October.

Each genre requires different types of research, but all have woven into them unique ways in which the Gospel impacts the characters’ lives. This is true in everything I write. The reader will find faith lived out in a real way, along with trials, failings, and real-life conundrums. No neat and tidy solutions are presented all tied together with a bow. Realistic struggles and remedies are written, so that modern readers can relate and can resonate with the lessons of God’s love shown.

I’ve read No Longer Alone. I loved it! I can’t wait to read The Shadows Come. Now, in your opinion, what is the hardest part of the writing process?

Believe it or not, the synopsis is what I find most difficult. Condensing a 330-page novel down to a one-page account is hard work. The more years I have under my belt as a fiction writer, the easier this becomes. However, for those first books, it was rough!

LOL! The dreaded synopsis. Here are some fun questions.

First draft: Pencil or keyboard?

In the Dark Ages before home computers, I wrote in longhand on yellow legal pads. On our first computer, my novels were then written in a font that looked like handwriting to imitate those legal pads. Jump forward to today. Now, I write in 12-pt. Times New Roman font.

Plotter or pantser?

I’m a pantser with Contemporary Fiction, for sure. But I must be a plotter in both Biblical Fiction and Historical Fiction, for the words of the Bible and/or the events of history have already given me an outline, which I adhere to strictly. The dialogue and the personal events that are woven throughout that God-given outline, however, come to me in pantser-type as I determine what my characters would have felt in that particular situation.

Tea or coffee?

Both. I used to drink two enormous cups (bowls) of Black Tea every morning, but a change in my health prohibits this. Now I drink two half cups of coffee (hand-ground beans, French pressed or pour-over) each day, one half cup in the morning and one in the afternoon.

I like the two half cups idea. Favorite thing to do when not writing?

Read, of course, or watch Masterpiece Theatre or PBS remakes. But, when they’re available and nearby, I love most of all to spend time with my husband, children, and grandchildren.

Inspirational

This year’s theme is sharing hope. In Hebrews, the writer tells us to encourage each other while it is called today. Would you please take a moment to share a brief testimony to encourage our readers?

Gladly! When my first novel was in production, all the pieces of a difficult health challenge that had been brewing for years came together and presented as an autoimmune disease that we eventually identified as Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disorder. I was bedridden for months, and it took several years to diagnose, all while I worsened and struggled to press on.

However, this wasn’t the dream crusher it would appear to be. The Lord has used this illness to teach me to rely on him for the strength to be a good wife, mother, and grandmother, to write the stories he has placed on my heart, and to trust my health into his hands. As a self-reliant workaholic and perfectionist, this crushing blow has proven to be the best character development program the Father ever could have given me. Recently, the prayers of many have been offered for my improvement and healing, and I’m seeing big changes in my health for good. 

I certainly wouldn’t have asked for the trials the Lord has allowed to touch my life, but he always uses trials to grow us in faith and to uplift others who suffer, for every one of us goes through hard times. Trials have a purpose. Sometimes only God knows the whys, but his promises are true.

If you’re suffering, remember that the Lord is with you in it. He never leaves you, and he never forsakes you. He will use this for good in your life, reshaping your immortal soul. His promises are true. And then, one day, if you are his, he will bring you to himself, wipe away your tears, and replace your losses with an eternity of great joy.

Thank you for sharing your testimony and reminding us that God is faithful, Melinda.  Praying your health improves more and more!


“In the Dark Ages before home computers, I wrote in longhand on yellow legal pads.” ~ @MelindaVInman #WomenofFaithandFiction #interview via @GailJohnson


Mafia Princesses Blurb

Benjamin always follows his plan, working alongside Papa and keeping the family’s Idaho lumber industry ecologically sound. Someday, maybe he’ll meet the right woman and settle down. But there’s no time, and he’s never met anyone.

But then, a beautiful woman and her friends are harassed by the local racists and misogynists. Benjamin steps between these women and the threat. That step changes his life, putting everything at risk.

Benjamin and his brothers have no choice. When women are attacked, Woodsman men intervene. However, unknown to them, this threat is greater than anything since their military combat service.

****

Sofia is in shock. Her father’s life is a farce. He isn’t a businessman, but a mobster, a Mafia kingpin. After discovering their fathers fighting, Sofia and her friends catch the first flight west, hiding in an Idaho resort town.

When hate-filled men attack Sofia and her friends, out of nowhere a group of men appear, brothers, standing between them and the threat and offering them safety.

Social Media:

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/MelindaVInman/

Website: https://melindainman.com

Blog: https://melindainman.com/blog  

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/MelindaVInman

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/melindavinman/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/melindavinman/

Amazon Author Page:  http://bit.ly/MelindasBooks