Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Author Behind the Story Blog Series - Jan Thompson

All is right in the world again. For months, things have been...catawampus...off kilter. With a hint of boring and a dash of "meaningless, meaningless, all is meaningless." 

But now, things have gained focus. The world's flipped right-side-up once more.  

College football is here.

Of course, my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek. But there is truth in my words as well. And if you disagree solely because you are not a fan is grounds for us to part ways.

One has to take a stand sometimes. :-) 

It is in this environment where we introduce our next guest on the Florida front porch. She hails from the same university a good friend of mine cheers on each Saturday in the fall. And it is these friendships that are living proof that God is a God of grace, and Christianity can indeed bring people together as brothers and sisters in Christ who otherwise would get into a knockdown, drag out, bar-fight-like brawl in the middle of a tailgate party.

(If you look closely, my tongue is still firmly jabbing my cheek.)

Anyway, enough with the silliness. It's time to get serious. 

Welcome our next guest, from the world of self-publishing, Jan Thompson! 

Jan, in ABTS tradition, give us a quick bio. In fifty words or less, who is Jan Thompson?

USA Today bestselling author Jan Thompson writes Christian coastal city and beach town romance with flavors of women’s fiction, Christian romantic suspense with elements of mystery, and inspirational near-future technothrillers with threads of sweet Christian romance. Jan’s books are for readers who love inspiring stories of faith, family, and friends.

Before you ever got a notion of becoming a writer/author, how old were you, and what were you doing in that time of your life?

There is a multi-year saga to this. I remember vividly the moment I was typing out a personal letter to my aunt on my parents’ Olivetti typewriter. I was eight years old, and I didn’t have an outline. I was free-writing whatever popped into my head. I don’t recall what I wrote, and I am sure that the sent letter has been lost to time. However, I know that since then I’ve written more and more, all the way through high school, including flip picture books, poetry, essays, short stories, and even comic strips. Anything creative.

My love of writing was not borne out of thin air, but I believe it came out of the reading environment that my parents created for my brothers and me. My parents loved to read both the classics and popular fiction, and they loved pop culture. My brothers and I sang along with nursery rhymes on vinyl records and listened to Mom read storybooks to us. Our family home was filled with books everywhere. As we got older, we started reading lots of fiction, including clean mysteries and suspense.

All that background influenced me later on after college and career. During my off hours from work, I would sew and quilt and paint and write. Around my thirtieth birthday, I prayed to God to clarify my calling in life for me. I felt strongly that all I wanted to do for the rest of my life on earth was to write my books and get them published. Two years later, I finished my first full-length novel. Just in time for motherhood. It would be twelve years before I wrote another book. I wrote part time until my son graduated from high school. When he went to college, I knew that it was finally time for empty-nester me to be a full-time novelist to fulfill my calling.

What educational background do you have?

Go Dawgs! (Here we go...) College football is huge at the University of Georgia, and it was the case even back then in the nineties when I attended the main campus in Athens, Georgia. However, I wasn’t a football fan then, since I had grown up on soccer, volleyball, and track-and-field. I remember not paying attention to the UGA colors when I walked to the library one fine game day, wearing a random purple sweater. You should’ve seen the glares I got from the tailgaters as I walked by them—my brain lost in thoughts of math and computing—while being unaware that I was wearing the colors of the visiting team! What was the probability!

My major was computer science in college, but I’ve always loved reading and writing. I took a journalism elective in which we had to write an essay a day. I finished my homework very quickly. One of my favorite electives was American literature, in which we had to write essays on paper in class for our midterms and finals. I am most creative when I’m writing with a pen or pencil on blank paper. To this day, I still draft all my books on paper.

After college, I went to work for over a decade in the IT world, writing database software programs on large multiuser systems. They say that in God’s economy, nothing is ever wasted. My background in computer science is why I enjoy writing cyberthrillers and near-future technothrillers.

Of all the stories/books you have written, which one is your favorite? And what compelled you to write this story?

Well, I love all of the thirty books I’ve published thus far. Every single one. Nevertheless, if I have to name titles, I would say that my most favorite books at this writing (caveat!) are the first books in my current series. To save space, I’ll just pick sample starter books from three genres.

His Longing Heart (Seaside Chapel Book 1): Christian Beach Romance

I grew up on a tropical island and have always loved the ocean. When I moved to Georgia, I was landlocked for thirty-some years. I hear the ocean and long for the ocean, so when I added contemporary Christian romance and romantic Christian women’s fiction to my book inventory, my beach and island memories returned to me.

Once a Thief (Protector Sweethearts Book 1): Christian Romantic Suspense

I wrote this book because private investigator Helen Hu has been in several books in my coastal romance (e.g., Tell You Soon) and beach romance (e.g., His Wake-Up Call) series, and it was time for her to headline her own story. Her mother from Tell You Soon (Savannah Sweethearts Book 2) must tag along, so I decided to put Mama Hu in jail. This was a fun mystery suspense to write as I put my main characters on a hunt for some bejeweled eggs and the Amber Room.

Zero Sum (Binary Hackers Book 1): Near-Future Romantic Technothriller

As mentioned earlier, my background is computer science. But I’m also a fan of science fiction and fantasy. In fact, in the nineties, I wrote two unpublished science fiction short stories. Thus, it’s natural for me to write this near-future thriller genre where my heroes battle enemies within and without, in the real world and also in the virtual cyberspace.

Knowing what you know now about writing, publishing, etc., what piece of advice would you give to the person thinking about writing that novel they have always wanted to pursue since they were young, or the person who believes they have a non-fiction book in them that would be helpful to others?

If you have book in you and you know God has called you to write, do it. Don’t delay. Don’t wait. Don’t give up. Writing craft, you can learn. Software tools to write in, you can learn. And yes, marketing, you can also learn. However, the story bottled up inside you can only be told by you and no one else.

“Then I said, ‘I will not make mention of Him,
Nor speak anymore in His name.’
But His word was in my heart like a burning fire
Shut up in my bones;
I was weary of holding it back,
And I could not” (Jeremiah 20:9).

While people say “there’s nothing new under the sun” and that “ideas are a dime a dozen,” those are simplistic statements. The way you write your book, the way you want to tell your story, those things are always uniquely yours. This is why you, the author, have the freedom to copyright your own books.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, NKJV).

Good advice. 

Next question along those lines: As a writer, what is “success” to you? And has that “definition” changed over time as you have traveled down the writer’s path?

Speaking for myself, success is fulfilling the call of God for my life. As I mentioned earlier, I had an epiphany at age thirty that I needed to utilize the skillset that God has already gifted me, which happens to be what I love to do the most: write. It’s not just any type of writing, but it’s a specific creative writing in which I can be free to talk about what God is doing in people’s hearts in the journey of life.

Whether the setting is a church, in a busy city or small town, or in cyberspace, and regardless of genres, I want to show a slice of real Christian life for my audience to read. I want to share about how loving and merciful and forgiving God is. When readers tell me that their hearts are uplifted or they draw nearer to Jesus after they read my novels, then I am encouraged as well. To me, I’ve succeeded.

“That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all Thy wondrous works” (Psalm 26:7, KJV).

Ultimately, my goal is to glorify God in everything I do. Whatever I write, whether non-fiction or fiction, should be a shining light in this difficult and dark world we live in. As Jesus said:

“I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness” (John 12:46, NKJV).

I want my readers to finish reading my books with a smile on their face and satisfaction in their hearts. Since I write under the Christian romance umbrella, my readers expect happy endings every time. And I do too.

Also good advice.

Now, on a more personal, and kind of off the wall way, answer this one: When you look for a new car, what are the things that are important to you?

Safety, safety, safety. After that, functionality. What’s the point of vehicle if it only looks pretty but is not safe or functional? We don’t own a trailer, but it’s always good to know that our vehicle can haul one. We moved from Georgia to Florida last December, and even though we rented PODs, we still had to drive the remainder of our “collectibles” (you might call it junk, but one man’s treasure is…) on a long road trip. A U-Haul trailer came to the rescue, and my husband drove our SUV all the way, as I followed behind him in our Accord.

We usually buy used cars (new to us!) because they’re in our price range. We’ve owned numerous used cars over the years. I remember our first car as a married couple. A wedding gift from my in-laws, our Oldsmobile Delta 88 was a tank. I felt safe in it. When we drove out on the highway, the Oldsmobile was a cruiser. Smooth as a boat on water. I miss that old car. I call it our wedding car because we drove it to our honeymoon on the beach some thirty-three years ago last month.

When I did research for my novel, Look for Me (Vacation Sweethearts Book 4), I was intrigued by the muscle cars of yesteryear. They all look like they had been built with some serious metal, heavy and safe to transport the precious cargo of life onboard. Many cars today have lighter frames, as though they could be tossed about in a gale. Not those muscle cars of old. I finally settled on one, and I made my main character, Martin MacFarland, drive a 1966 Shelby GT350 that he and his father restored in their shop in Savannah, Georgia.

You've mentioned several Bible verses. What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most, and why?

John 3:16 is my life verse. This is primarily why I keep writing and why I love being a novelist.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, KJV).

No, my stories are not parables. My books are to entertain my readers, cups of fresh water for the weary soul when the going gets rough. I tell my readers to come sit a while in a comfortable chair, read my books, and enjoy the happy endings. Readers who are not familiar with the romance genre might question why I just gave away the endings of my beach romance, romantic suspense, and romantic thrillers. The heroes will not die in a book with a happy ending. They will live and finish well in my story world.

Why do I write such stories? On earth, not all things end happily. In fact, our fallen world, cursed by sin, is filled with many events in history too horrible to imagine. So many sad and tragic endings everywhere. Isn’t it good for us to know that in the future, God wins? In the Bible, the book of Revelation tells us that there is a true happy ending in real life that Christians can hope for. That is the ultimate happy ending that we can rejoice about. No secret about this happily-ever-after!

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful’” (Revelation 21:4–5, NKJV).

Amen to that! Before we close, is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about you, or anything we didn’t cover?

I love to read. I was a reader first before I was ever a writer. These days, I have to read my own books before and after my editors do, so I am rather busy meeting editorial deadlines in my own story world. When I’m free, I read non-fiction books or study a new language or watch dramas in a foreign language. And I read novels outside the genres I write in. I have a policy of not reading the genre I write in at the same time I am writing it. For example, when I am writing my thrillers, I don’t read other people’s thrillers. I might read a historical fiction or a non-fiction book. When I write my beach romances, I don’t read other people’s romance novels. I would read a suspense or a thriller. Right now, I am writing both a technothriller and a beach romance, so what do I read? My fallback is always non-fiction. I am reading a couple of marketing books.

Most importantly, I do my best to read the Bible daily. I feel that one way to tithe my time to God is to start off by reading a few passages of Scripture each day. It matters not whether I’ve checked off everything on my to-do list. But it matters that I sit quietly before Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, and learn from Him. For example, in an epic climb that spanned months of life events, I finished reading Leviticus. My readers tell me that they appreciate reading Bible references in my books, especially my beach romance novels that cover church life. Those were not random passages I grabbed out of thin air. God taught me something, and I felt compelled to share it. I love spending time in God’s Word!

Jan, thank you for taking time to open up your life for our readers. I know they appreciate it an always dig deeper into cyberspace to find out more about our guests, hoping they will find another author from which to garner good reads.

Readers, if you wish to find out more about Jan, you can find her in these locations on the web:

Jan’s Website: JanThompson.com

Jan’s Mailing List: JanThompson.com/newsletter

Jan’s Books: JanThompson.com/books

Follow Jan Thompson at:

·         Amazon: JanThompson.com/amazon

·         BookBub: JanThompson.com/bookbub

·         Goodreads: JanThompson.com/goodreads

·         Twitter: JanThompson.com/twitter

·         Instagram: JanThompson.com/instagram

·         Facebook: JanThompson.com/facebook

 

We will see you in December!


Kevin

 


Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Author Behind the Story Blog Series - Eva Marie Everson

 


I saw a cartoon recently. The principal of an elementary school was on the PA system, holding the microphone. The clock on the wall said 3:00 p.m. She said, "I know you all are excited, but please refrain from throwing books and running in the hallways. If you could at least wait until the students have left for the day, it would be greatly appreciated."

I'm hearing shouts of joy across the nation as students walk off campus for the last time in the 2021-2022 school year. Some of those exclamations are from the kids. Most are from the teachers. It's been two years of "Quarantine Hades." Two years many would just as soon forget and never relive. They are so excited to head into summer with the prospect of starting next year in a "pre-pandemic" state of mind.

Then, of course, you have the somber, tragic moments, such as what occurred in Uvalde, Texas, that demonstrate for the nation once again how much teachers and other staff members are truly on the front lines as well. You don't have to wear PD Blue, Fire Engine Red, or Military Green to be on the front lines. 

Therefore, as you transition into summer mode, remember your child's teachers in your prayers. Remember the other school staff members as well. In a day's time, they often spend more time with your child collectively than you do in a normal weekday.

And when you think of it, pray for us writers too. Developing stories readers want to read is hard work, as our next guest points out. And believe it or not, many writers out there are or have been in the teaching field at some point in their lives. 

Our featured author in this summer quarter has been a friend and mentor of this writer for several years now, and I am so happy and humbled to have her as a guest on ABTS.

So, pull up an Adirondack chair, grab a glass of sweet tea or lemonade (or mix it into an Arnold Palmer), and please welcome author, speaker, organizational president, contest organizer, and all around Grand Poohbah (just ask Mark Hancock about this title), Eva Marie Everson! 

Eva, in ABTS style and tradition, give us a quick bio. In fifty words or less, who is Eva Marie Everson?
 
Eva Marie Everson is a multiple award-winning author and speaker of both fiction and nonfiction. She is the president of Word Weavers International, the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference, and the director of all Blue Ridge Mountains CWC contests, including The Selah Awards. She and her husband live in Central Florida where they enjoy their children and grandchildren.
 
Before you ever got a notion of becoming a writer/author, how old were you, and what were you doing in that time of your life?
 
Like most writers I’d always had the notion of being a writer/author, but instead of choosing that path educationally, I went into nursing. In 1992, I contracted a disease that “sent me home” and kept me there for the next five years. But it was during this time that the Lord opened my eyes (and all the right doors) to the possibilities of entering into the publishing arena.
 
I’m going to give you a shotgun list of favorites. List your favorite in each category and then tell us in one sentence why it is your favorite.
 
Favorite Song of All-Time: “That’s Life” by Frank Sinatra
Favorite Non-Fiction Book (other than your own & besides the Bible): Living Prayer by Robert Benson
Favorite Bible Verse: John 6:68
Favorite Movie: My Favorite Wife
Favorite Actor or Actress: Cary Grant, always
Favorite TV Show: The Chosen
Favorite Novel (other than your own): Mr. & Mrs. Bo Jo Jones
Favorite Author (other than you): Nonfiction: Robert Benson / Fiction: Richard Paul Evans
Favorite Sport: To watch: Baseball. But I love to hike.
Favorite Team (Can be any sport, any level): Atlanta Braves!
Favorite Subject in School Growing Up: Anything English or History
Favorite Subject Now: History, especially biblical history
Favorite Teacher in School: Mrs. Boddiford, who recently passed away at the age of 101
Favorite Time of the Year: Christmastime
Favorite Place to Vacation: Long Vacay: Ireland / Short Vacay: Daytona Beach with the hubby (we go about every other month)
Favorite Drink: I honestly don’t have one.
Favorite Food: That list is pretty long.
 
 
When the words aren’t flowing, what is your favorite comfort food and why?
 
Cheez-Its.
 
Oh, now, I can relate. If I'm not careful, I can inadvertently perform a magic act during a sporting event or movie and make and entire box disappear.

For all the pet lovers out there, answer this question: Do you have any?
 
I loooooooooooooooove dogs (better than people!). And I’ve had quite a few. Right now, we have a cat, Vanessa. Or, she has us. Vanessa was my brother’s cat. When he died in 2019, one of his last concerns was over his cat. I promised him that I would take care of her and give her a wonderful life. I have kept that promise.
 
You have something in common with Mark Twain. He has been quoted saying, "The more I get to know people, the more I like my dogs."

Everybody seems to have a bucket list. Do you? If so, what’s on it? If not, why not?
 
I do. Recently it became so short because I fulfilled so many of the items that I decided to add to it . . . you know . . . without a bucket list, it gets a little scary. 😊 Still on the list (but not inclusive):
 
Be driven down the 7-mile Bridge in the Florida Keys at Sunset
Return to Ireland
Vacay in Bryce Canyon
Return to Bennington, VT
 
Do you have a crazy, interesting, behind-the-scenes story about the publishing world you’d like to tell your readers without boring them to death with industry gobbledygook?
 
I made an appointment to speak with an editor while at my first Christian Booksellers Association Convention back in 1999. We set the time for 2:00 the following afternoon. I arrived about 1:45 (always early!) and began a conversation with a man who sported a long ponytail, John Lennon glasses, and a safari-style jacket. He seemed a quite scholarly and so comfortable in his skin standing there with his arms crossed over his chest. I asked if he was with the publishing house, and he said he was . . . in a way.

We were standing next to a display of books that were to be signed and given away a little while later. I pointed to them and said that I’d heard a lot of good things about the author . . . that he was a great speaker and writer and that I should get a copy of his latest book. The man gave me a copy of the book “on him.” I asked if I should wait until the book signing (which was scheduled for 2:30), and he said that I could come back and get it signed then.
 
About that time, one of my friends rounded the corner of publishing house booths and, upon seeing us, went wide-eyed. “Ohmygoodness!” she squealed. “Robert Benson!” I assumed she meant the stack of books. The man beside me then moved in such a way that revealed his name tag from beneath his jacket. Yep, it was Robert Benson, who not only became a great spiritual influence in my life, but he is also a man I call “friend.”
 
Do you ever receive negative reviews from readers? If so, how do you respond when you see them?
 
Of course. And they hurt, especially when the review is a misunderstanding or what I feel is horribly unfair. For example, one reviewer of DUST said that there was sex on every page. Well, that’s not possible. For one, the book is over 400 pages . . . and I don’t know that much about sex. For another, there is not sex on every page. However, at the core of the story, we have two couples—one who, as young-and-in-loves decided to “wait until they get married.” This is not easy, but they manage to keep their relationship pure. As the years go by, and while they experience heartache as any couple would, they are blessed within their marriage. The other couple are in the throes of an affair. Everything they touch is destroyed, including themselves. Now, this is not the WHOLE of the story, but it’s in there. So, I have to wonder if the reader was not so affected by those two choices perhaps because of her own life story that this is what resonated with her.
 
I have also had reviews that lead me to realize that the reviewer has had a very cloistered life. That’s great for them. I did not and most people I know have not. I write about those characters. I write about those lives, lives that get caught up in the muck and the mire of life but who find the goodness at the end of it all.
 
But my favorite is this one: I’m giving it one star because I didn’t have time to read it.
 
What?
 
I wish reviewers understood how hard we work at what we do and how much their words can cut. I also wish they understood how a one-star review based on not reading it or their misunderstandings can hurt us as well. Or, if they simply don’t understand the industry (the reviewer who said, “I’ll never read her work again because she doesn’t capitalize the pronouns for God” which was followed by others saying, “Thank you for warning me.” Well, dear reader, that is the choice of the publishing house, not the author . . .).
 
But I digress.
 
Oh, I loved the one about my first Blake Meyer book being a "cliffhanger" (it was the first in a six-book series). The reviewer wrote it as a "warning" to all those readers who might get snookered. Now, every time we watch a TV show, and it leaves the viewer "hanging," I shout out, "Cliffhanger!" I guess you could call it passive-aggressive author therapy. Ha!

Eva, what are you working on right now?
 
Forty years ago, I read a Dear Abby column that told a story so unimaginable, I tucked it away in my storyteller’s brain only to bring it out every so often and “work on it.” I built my characters, my setting, etc. for years before I started writing in earnest.
 
Beth Bettencourt is the story of a 28-year-old woman who, one November morning in 1962, wakes to the sound of a man snoring in her guest bedroom. She calls the police but, the following day during his arraignment, feels guilty after realizing this stranger in town, Marty, had simply gone to the wrong house. Beth changes his life by giving him a place to stay and work (he’d just been released from the army), and he changes her life by forcing her to come face-to-face with her past and present demons.
 
Marty is everything she never knew she needed . . . but is he everything he claims to be?
 
That sounds interesting...and November of 1962, eh? That's a great month and year...just sayin'...

Has your writing crossed over into other areas? If so, how? If not, will it?
 
I write both fiction and nonfiction, books and articles, for adults and children. I didn’t intend for it to be this way, but that’s the way my career evolved. Then again, there is the being president of Word Weavers International and the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference. I never intended it to be this way, but God moved in another direction than the one I saw fit. 😊
 
As a writer, what is “success” to you? And has that “definition” changed over time as you have traveled down the writer’s path? 
 
Success does change and should change over time. Success, initially, is getting at least one thing traditionally published. Then, it’s getting another thing published . . . and then it’s getting better at what I do. My last book should be better than my first book. Success can then also be having one of my books named as a finalist for an award and then, with that accomplishment, winning that award in subsequent years. Success can then move on to being recognized favorably by those within the industry. Finally, and most importantly, success comes at the end of this life when Jesus says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
 
What’s the craziest thing you have ever done?
 
I tend to have a daredevil mentality. Not like I would jump out of an airplane without a parachute, but that I don’t always see the consequences “if things go south.” Back in 2007, while traveling the land of Israel with my friend Miriam Feinberg Vamosh for a book we were writing about Israel—a Jewish woman and a Christian woman traveling, photographing, and writing about the land together—we went up to the Church of the Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor. While there, Miriam said, “There is a wonderful scripture that says, Tabor and Hermon sing for joy at your name. Sometimes,” she said, “on rare occasions, you can see Mt. Hermon from Tabor.”
 
I looked northward and, there in the sky, I could see the snow-capped glory of Mt. Hermon. I said, “Like now?”
 
Miriam was stunned.
 
I knew I had to get not just a good photo of the moment, but a great photo of the moment. We went up this staircase on the side of the church, but the view, while fine, was not impressive. Then I spotted this ancient wall that, if I could somehow get to the top of it, and then shimmy to the middle of it, I could get the most wonderful photo ever. I pointed this out to Miriam, who said, “How are you going to get to the top of the wall?”
 
I said, “With your help.”

So, here I was, being hoisted up an ancient “I hope this doesn’t crumble from under me” stone wall by my friend. Once I got to the top, I sort of straddled on top and reached down for my camera. Then, with that secured around my neck, I began to shimmy along the wall’s edge until I got to the middle. I took several photos, then shimmied back, straddled on the wall again, handed the camera back to Miriam, and then said, “Now, how am I going to get down?”
 
I rolled onto my belly and, clutching the wall, headed feet-first. My arms stretched until Miriam caught my feet, and then I let go and came tumbling down. No one was hurt in the process and the photo that we used in the book (Reflections of God’s Holy Land, A Personal Journey Through Israel, Thomas Nelson, 2008) was amazing. I still sit in awe of that moment whenever I look at the photo.
 
Why do you live where you live?  
 
I live in Central Florida because my husband’s job moved us here in 1992. I remain here because this is where two of our three children live and three of our grandchildren as well. I’m not a fan of Florida heat, and I could probably list a few other places I’d rather be, but this is where God planted me, so I’m gonna sit here and bloom!
 
We know “Readers are leaders, and leaders are readers.” Is there a book you’ve read in the past five years or so that has helped you become a better you? If so, which one was it, and how did it affect your life?
 
Because I’m the president of Word Weavers International, I gravitate toward books on leadership and, in particular, being a godly leader. The book Discipled Leader by Preston Poore, was an icing-on-the-cake kind of book for me, especially seeing as it came during the pandemic. The style was conversational, which I appreciate, and showed the successes and not-so-successes of a man truly trying to live, work, and lead according to God’s principles.
 
When you are looking for a book to read, what are the things that are important to you?
 
If you don’t grab me within the first page (and sometimes two pages), you won’t keep me long enough to know if the rest of the book is good. There are too many good books out there to waste my time on a book I had to struggle to read.
 
A title catches my attention first, then the subject matter. But if that first page doesn’t grab me . . . our time together on Planet Earth is done.
 
What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most, and why?
 
Moses said, “Now show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18).
 
Eva, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule and allow our readers a chance at getting to know you.

Readers, if you want to find out more about our guest this quarter, you can visit her on the following websites: 
 
Eva Marie Everson’s Amazon Author Page
 
www.EvaMarieEversonAuthor.com (you can join my newsletter (Southern, monthly) subscription here.
 
www.instagram.com/evamarieeverson
 
www.facebook.com/eva.marie.everson
 

Until next quarter, enjoy your summer, and we'll see you again on the Florida Front Porch in September!


Kevin


Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Author Behind the Story Blog Series - Susan Page Davis

Some of you may have noticed that we made changes to our monthly format, and we did. We now feature an author every quarter. These changes went into effect in January 2022 and were NOT COVID-related. :-)

These occurred because of a new blog I began. It was to be a book, but I felt God's leading to transform it a blog instead. It's called THE KING AND HIS KINGDOM: VIEWING THIS LIFE THROUGH THE EYES OF THE ALMIGHTY. It begins with my journey and the transformation that has taken place over the last few years (so if you want to get to know me better, this would be a great way to do so) in order to get a running start at the overall goal of the "book": focus on the Creation Account in Genesis and the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 for the purpose of seeing how God views life as King of the Kingdom of Heaven, which is at hand, I hear. :-)

We've posted the Introduction and some of "Chapter 1" thus far. Each section that was to be a chapter is being broken into blog posts, tying to the previous in some way, having a closing "Thought of the Week" section at the end, and being a standalone devotional at the same time. No small feat when these chapters were originally one cohesive whole. So far, the reviews posted on social media have been great. It goes live each Monday morning at 6:00 a.m. EST. Feel free to follow it so you can be alerted each time it goes live.

So, that's what I've been working on...along with continuing to write the fiction I love...and continuing this blog (oh yeah, and working that thing we call a J-O-B during the day). :-)

This blog has become, by design, a database of authors through which readers can learn more about said authors and find their books, if their genre interests them. There are other writings on here as well by yours truly, from my days of being a writer for Seriously Write (as well as some other musings).

However, the main impetus has grown to be the Author Behind the Story blog series, which I love doing too. That brings us to our next guest on the Florida front porch, where the temps have been more summer-like than spring. We really have not experienced spring temps this year. We went from winter to near summer (almost 90 degrees last Saturday!) and the season we call "The Pollenation."

Grab a glass of iced tea, pull up an Adirondack chair, and let's welcome author Susan Page Davis!

Susan, in our traditional manner, give us a quick bio of who Susan Page Davis is...in fifty words or less. Go!

I grew up in Maine, but I now live in western Kentucky. I’ve authored more than one hundred published novels and novellas. I write in different genres—mystery, romance, historical, suspense, and even a few children’s books. Most have a faith thread, some romance, and some mystery.

Over one hundred books? Wow!

Before you ever got a notion of becoming a writer/author, how old were you, and what were you doing in that time of your life?

I started writing stories as a child, but as an adult I seriously began trying to publish my fiction at about age 45. At the time, I was a correspondent for a daily newspaper, covering local news. My first published fiction consisted of short stories in Woman’s World, Grit, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. Then my first novel, Protecting Amy, was accepted for publication, and I haven’t looked back! Book #100, Cliffhanger, released February 1 this year.

Those are some pretty huge publications. That's awesome.

Sometimes our readers like to know about an author's personal life. Whether they are married...do they have children, etc. Are you married? Single? Have kids?

I’m married to Jim, a retired news editor. We have six grown children and eleven grandchildren.

Hmm....you're a former correspondent of a newspaper...he's a retired news editor...I'm seeing a connection here. 

For all the pet lovers out there (and there are many), answer this question: Do you have any? (And notice I didn't ask just about cats and dogs, which is what most people think of...I'm a fish tank kind of guy, myself.)

We have a very naughty cat named Arthur. He’s a short-haired orange street cat our daughter rescued and adopted. If a closed door exists, Arthur wants to be on the other side of it.

I'd say he was ill-named. Arthur sounds so proper. He sounds more like a Cool Hand Luke...

Besides storytelling, what talents do you have?

I’m a former spelling champion, and I used to shoe horses. I also enjoy genealogical research, needlework, and logic problems.

That's quite the variety. I'm sure your readers would see those interests peeking out of the page from time to time, an I right?

Besides the usual things authors face, has there been an unusual event that changed your perspective about being an author?

I had a major stroke—a blood clot on my brain—at age 43. My oldest son was away at college, but our five younger children were at home. I believe my husband saved my life. He made me take two aspirin (NOTE: That could have been fatal if I’d had the other kind of stroke, an aneurism, so “don’t try this at home.” But in my case, it was the perfect thing to do.) and calling the ambulance. For two days I couldn’t read or write. We were home schooling, and our two youngest children had not yet begun to read. I wasn’t sure what we would do if I wasn’t able to teach them. But God restored all my faculties. After nine days of tests, I was released from the hospital, but they never found out what caused the stroke. I was a news correspondent at the time. A couple of years later, I started seriously writing fiction.

We are glad you have recovered fully!

As a writer, if you had one thing you would do over again, what would it be?

I would start seriously trying to be published sooner. My first published book released when I was 50.

Amen. I'm right there with you. 

Tell us about what project you are currently working on.

The Sister’s Search will release July 19. It’s the third and final book in a historical series, Homeward Trails, set in the 1860s. A grandmother in Maine has hired an attorney and his investigator to find her three grandchildren. Twenty years earlier, they were abandoned by their father and adopted by three very different families. In the first two books, Ryland searched for and found the two boys and brought them back to visit their grandmother. Now he’s trying to find Jane, who was only an infant when she was adopted. His journey takes him to post-Civil-War Texas, where chaos and violence are the order of the day. Meanwhile, Jane (now Molly Weaver) is searching for her adoptive brother, who’s in a fix. Just when things are looking up, a stranger shows up claiming to be her “real” father.

What surprised you the most during the research for the book you are currently working on?

After the Civil War, Texas was not readmitted to the Union until 1870, five years after the war ended.

No wonder Texans have always had a bit of a chip on their shoulders when it came to being part of the U.S. Now, it makes sense. 

When you are looking for a book to read, what are the things that are important to you?

I’m an eclectic reader. I love mysteries, but I also love history, intrigue, and a bit of romance. I listen to my sisters and close friends. If they say they loved a book, chances are I’ll try it. I also subscribe to several daily email lists of new and discounted books. The main character must be someone I can love, or at least someone I can cheer on. If the lead isn’t likable, I’m not interested. Of course, some characters start out unlikable and change along the way, and I’m open to that. And their goals and motivation have to make sense to me.

What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most, and why?

We’ve all had a lot of tough happenings in the past few years. A verse that I’ve taped to my monitor and reread often is Psalm 48:14. For this God is our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even unto death. That reminds me that God doesn’t change. He’s our solid rock, and no matter how bleak this world looks, He is in control.

Amen. It's His Kingdom. His Creation. HIS-tory. 

Susan, we appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to give our readers and glimpse into your life and writing. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about you, or anything we didn’t cover?

One thing that’s been a joy for me is visiting the settings of many of my books. A lot are set in Maine, where I grew up and spent most of my life, and a few are in Oregon, my husband’s home state. We lived there for a year. But I’ve also been able to visit places like Alaska and Arizona, where I was able to visit a lot of fascinating places and do research at archives, libraries, and museums. Texas and Idaho are other settings with fond memories for me.

I’ve now lived in Kentucky almost twelve years, and only in the last two years have I started writing books with this setting. I felt that I wouldn’t sound genuine until I’d lived here a while. At last I felt confident enough to write Blue Plate Special, the first book in my True Blue Mysteries series, set in Calloway County. The reception has been terrific, and I’m glad I took the leap.

Kentucky and Texas versus Oregon or Maine? Yeah, just a little different. :-)

Susan, it's been a pleasure having you on the front porch, sharing your personal stories with our readers.

Readers, if you'd like to find out more about Susan and her writing, you can find her at these "cyberspatial" locations: 

Website: https://susanpagedavis.com

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/susan-page-davis

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/susanpagedavisauthor

  

We'll see you again in June!

Kevin

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Author Behind the Story Blog Series - Erin Howard

Have you noticed it? The shift in mentality? Ever since the pandemic, people have had time to evaluate things. What seemed so important on February 2020 suddenly were not so much after March 2020. I know, for me, a great many things crystalized. God has used the last nineteen months to sharpen my focus and has forced me to make decisions...ones I am happy I've made.

One of those decisions is to spend a lot more time in His Word...much ore than I was spending before. More time in prayer. More time focusing on His will, as opposed to mine and everybody's else's.

As a result, I've decided to change the format of this particular blog. Instead of having an author featured every month, I have decided to change that to once a quarter, meaning we will feature an author each March, June, September, and December.

Another change is the creation of a new blog which will appear on my website once a month, beginning the third Monday of January. It will be a "devotional" type of blog, wherein I will post a portion of a chapter of a new book I've been writing that I decided to reveal in this way, instead of going through traditional publishing means. You'll see it appear on my website under the "Author's Blogs" section and will be called The King and His Kingdom: Viewing This Life Through the Eyes of the Almighty. Be on the lookout in January 2022.

Therefore, as we shift on this blog from once a month to once a quarter, we welcome our last, but definitely not the least, author to the Florida Front Porch! Please welcome to ABTS, Fellow Scrivenings Press author, Erin Howard!

Erin, in ABTS style, give us a quick bio. In fifty words or less, who is Erin Howard?

Hi! I’m Erin R. Howard, YA fantasy author of The Kalila Chronicles, freelance developmental editor, and a small business owner of a retail store where I can fuel my craft addictions. I live in Western Kentucky with my husband and three kiddos.

What educational background do you have? 

I have a BA in Creative Writing/English from Southern New Hampshire University. I went back to school in 2012 after having two of my kids and then opened a retail store and got pregnant with my third child, all while going to school full-time online. It was a crazy, busy, and stressful time, but so worth it.

To help our readers get to know you a little better, what makes you cringe? 

I absolutely cringe at the sound of Styrofoam rubbing together. If it happens while we are in the car (take out boxes or drinks), they will immediately yell, “I know, I know, I’ll get it!”

I think we all have our pet peeves when it comes to noises, right?

If you had your life to live over again, besides being an author (which we guess would be your obvious answer), what profession would you choose? 

A movie director/producer.

Besides storytelling, what talents do you have? 

I love to crochet and do anything craft-related. Before I opened my retail store, I taught cake decorating.

Besides the usual things authors face, has there been an unusual event that changed your perspective about being an author? 

My son was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2016, just two days after Christmas. He was in treatment for almost three years. He is doing well and has been finished with chemo for two years, but this experience changed everything. There was the Erin before he was sick and the Erin after.

I'll bet. And we're so glad to hear about his progress! 

Do you ever receive negative reviews from readers? If so, how do you respond when you see them? 

I have. It’s something that every writer faces because our stories are not going to be for everyone, and that’s okay. It doesn’t make it easier, but I try to remember that when I see one pop up. I think since I write about the supernatural, it’s easy for some people to get upset because it doesn’t follow the scriptures 100%. I am a Christian. However, I write clean fantasy. It’s not going to be theologically sound because it’s fantasy. I write about darker themes so readers can find light in their darkness and know that there’s hope.

Tell us about what project you are currently working on. 

I’m working on a brand-new series called Gates of Deceit. It’s a YA dystopian series about a teenage girl that gets locked out of her community and has to survive out in the forest they are all forbidden to enter. It’s suspenseful and keeps you on the edge of your seat. The first book, Beyond the Gates, releases May 2020.

How do you come up with the names for your characters? 

I love to look up names in Hebrew or Latin that have meanings that pertain to the themes of my story. I also love names that are spelled differently with the letter “K." For example, my main character in The Kalila Chronicles is named Viktor instead of Victor.

If you had one person you could meet (think ONLY Bible characters here) and could spend as much time as you wanted with that individual, who would it be besides Jesus, and why? 

A long time ago, I dreamed the angel Gabriel sat down with me, and I got to ask questions about spiritual warfare. So I think I would have to go with that.

Interesting choice. Not your typical "person" chosen. :-)

When you are looking for a book to read, what are the things that are important to you? 

I love to read, but I’m always so busy that I have to be very picky at what I pick up. I have a wide variety of genres that I enjoy, but fantasy is my favorite. IF the cover catches my eye, then I will read the back cover copy. IF that sounds interesting, I will turn to the first chapter. IF the opening sentence is a hook, I will keep reading, but it has to keep my interest within the first few pages, or I put it down.

What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most, and why? 

The verse that carried me through my son’s cancer diagnosis and treatment. A few months before he got sick, Ex 14:14 came up in my Bible reading, and I started studying it in Hebrew/Greek Study Bible. I wrote out everything that God told me that day about learning how to be still to let Him fight for you. When Gabriel got sick, I believe it was my sister, sent me that verse, not knowing that I just spent months studying and thinking about it. It was my confirmation that Gabriel was going to be okay.

How awesome! God is good. What a great way to wind things up! Erin, is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about you, or anything we didn’t cover? 

Thank you so much, Kevin, for having me on your blog! I love to connect with and hear from my readers, so I hope that you will check out my website and follow me on social media. I’m most active on TikTok, FB, and Instagram.

You're welcome!

Readers, if you wish to read more about Erin and her writing, you can find her at these cyber-locations:

Website: https://erinrhoward.com/

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@erinrhoward

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/E.R.H.Fiction/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ErinRHoward

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

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

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/c386-H

Crafty Pages YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCchg-XMNW2b7GTjnfF2wYHg

Once Upon a Page YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEiu-jq-KE-VMIjbtmGLbJA

 

Readers, thank you for stopping by! And remember, we will continue building this "database" of authors, it will just shift to four times a year.

May you all have a wonderful Christmas, a joyous New Year, and don't forget to check out my new blog in January!









Kevin