When I think of summer, I think of ice tea, a screened-in porch and an entertaining book in hand.And what better reading material to kick back and read on a lazy afternoon than a collection of sweet romances. I’m excited to introduce the Always a Wedding Planner collection of stories. This book is hot off the press and ready to slip into your hands as you take some well deserved chill time. Hope you enjoy all the author interviews and their thoughts on writing. It’s a unique group!
Well ladies, I have some questions for all you about the writing life. First of all tell me how you became a writer.
Toni Shiloh: I took some creative writing classes while earning my bachelor’s degree and I caught the bug!
RL Ashly: In fifth grade, I was standing in the hallway of my elementary school and deep in conversation with my classmates. We were discussing writing and I told them that someday I would be a writer. That was my initial decision, but it would take a while and a bit of education before I could pursue a writing career.
Leeann Betts: I’m that kid in class who, when the teacher said, “Write a one-page story”, I wrote two or three pages, edge of paper to edge of paper. I loved telling stories. My parents called them ‘fibs’. In more recent years, I wondered if I had at least one book inside me that needed outing. So I sat down and tried. Messed up. Tried again. Finally, with the support of my husband who supported me and cheered me on, I finished the book, then went on to write many more.
Davalynn Spencer: I wrote my first story as an assignment from my sixth-grade teacher. That was all it took.
What is the most important thing God has taught you through your writing?
TS: That I can’t do this alone. I’ve been blessed with great critique partners, beta readers, readers overall. And of course a lot of other people who have helped in various ways.
LB: That He is the One who does the writing – all I do is transcribe the story. Before I write, I pray that I would do my part faithfully.
DS: My purpose is to proclaim Him and His faithfulness. Regardless of what happens in a character’s life or my own.
Writing has a lot of rejection. How do you deal with it?
TS: Chocolate! Lol, honestly I usually whine to my bff and pray. And maybe eat a piece of chocolate or two.
RA: Rejection or a closed door? The older I get, the more I understand a ‘no’ as not the right opportunity for me. A ‘no’ can certainly protect us from a frustrating situation that we might not understand at the time. That being said, rejection is hard. A strategy I find helpful is to let myself be discouraged, angry, or frustrated for a limited time period. All emotions need to be processed before I go to bed. Tomorrow is a new day, new adventures. I am a human and need to process like everyone else. But I have found setting time limits is healthy for me.
LB: Being a writer is much like being a follower of Jesus—there are people who love the story, and there are those who just don’t get it. In both cases, I just remind myself that they aren’t rejecting me—they are rejecting the Living Savior.
DS: Rejection can deteriorate into dejection if we allow it. Remembering that Christ too was rejected helps ease the sting. But so does remembering to keep going. Keep doing. Keep writing. Quitting is the enemy of obedience.
Who is your support for writing? Family? Writing group?
TS: My husband definitely supports me and then I have my circle of writing friends. They’ve been along for the majority of my writing career and have helped me become better with each book.
RA: Definitely my critique group. Leeann Betts is the leader, and the entire group are great cheerleaders.
LB: My husband is a huge support, as are my critique group, my writing friends, and my readers. I love hearing from readers, and always respond.
DS: I have many author friends and I enjoy spending time with them sharing commons struggles and victories.
Who are some of your favorite authors (either secular or Christian)?
TS: There are too many to name! I love all books by Sarah Monzon, Jaycee Weaver, Andrea Boyd, Becky Wade, Melissa Tagg, Ronie Kendig, Lynn Blackburn, etc.
RA: My biggest addiction is reading. I read whatever I can get my hands on including the cereal box. If I cannot read, then I will listen to an audio book. It is impossible to pick a favorite author. Everything from Socrates and Plato to Jane Austen and every contemporary writer on the planet right now.
LB: Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
DS: C.S. Lewis, Tamera Alexander, Laura Frantz, Louis L’Amour.
Do you have a favorite routine for writing?
TS: I put on my playlist that I create for each book then write. 🙂
RA: Rather than climb the walls in my house, I sit in parking lots and write my novels. Open space parks are nice too. Now that things are returning to more of a normal situation, it is easier for me to write at home. I keep my tablet and notepad in a bag for easy access. I haul that thing around everywhere I go. Then if a great idea pops into my head, I can jot it down on paper or electronically.
I do not really have a routine. Between work and chasing grandbabies, I need to write on the go. This way of writing would drive most people nuts. But it is the only way I can get things done. I catch a little bit of time on my lunch break, and before and after work.
LB: No routine, apart from praying to faithfully transcribe. I wish I could have something, like music, or candles. But I don’t.
DS: I sit down at my computer with a cup of coffee and jump right in. During the colder months of the year, I sit by the fire in my rocker and write on my laptop. With coffee close by.
Tell us about your most recent book. What inspired you?
TS: I actually just kind of brainstormed and let the character develop in my mind. 🙂
RA: Hemmed In is a story about a seamstress and a firefighter. As a professional seamstress, my world revolves around sewing. It was a natural choice to make the lead character a seamstress. My late uncles and aunts were the inspiration behind the story. My uncles stepped up to the plate, married my aunties, and became fathers to my cousins. They treated them as their own. The word ‘step’ did not refer to people. The only ‘step’ in their vocabularies were the ones outside leading to the front door. That left a lasting impression upon me.
LB: Worst-Kept Secret, my contribution to this collection, came as the result of a brainstorming session with my late writing friend, Darlene Franklin. We were coming up with ideas for collections. We started with “Always a Bridesmaid” then thought, “nah, that’s been done to death”. So “Always a Wedding Planner” came out, contemporary, which was a change, since the other collections were all historical. To create the heroine, I made her a lot like me. Introverted, afraid to disappoint, wanting to please.
DS: A Change of Scenery, Book 4 in the Canon City Chronicles series, focuses on the third generation of the Hutton family in 1911. Canon City was an early Hollywood, hosting movie makers of the silver screen. When I was a reporter for the newspaper in Canon City, I often visited the local History Center and Museum for stories from the past. Discovering so much intriguing movie history from this area led me to create characters around actual events and bring them to life in my Western-romance series.
Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?
TS: I hope you enjoy Always a Wedding Planner!
RA: I have a cat named Messy. She is better than any alarm clock. Woe to the human who does not get out of bed on time and put food in the dish.
LB: I am a Canadian by birth, American by choice (naturalized), and a patriot to my core.
DS: Nope, that’s it.
Thank you ladies for visiting my website and sharing your writing journey. I’ve posted more information about the writers below. And remember to check out Always A Wedding Planner!
About the authors:
TONI SHILOH is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.
R.L. ASHLY is a master seamstress with a Master of Arts degree in Literature (May, 2019). She hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in Literature in the near future. A mother and grandmother, she is active in her local writing community, never says never to a home improvement task, and strives to one day write the Great American Novel.
Buy the book~Paperback link on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3qNivJ8
Kindle link on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3kiQQgL
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LEEANN BETTS writes contemporary romantic suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical romantic suspense. She has released nine titles in her cozy mystery series and together she and Donna have published more than 25 novellas and full-length novels. They ghostwrite, judge writing contests, edit, facilitate a critique group, and are members of American Christian Fiction Writers, Writers on the Rock, and Sisters in Crime. Leeann travels extensively to research her stories, and is proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary LLC.
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DAVALYNN SPENCER is a Publisher’s Weekly and ECPA bestselling author with novellas in three Barbour collections, The 12 Brides of Christmas, The 12 Brides of Summer, and The Cowboy’s Bride. She won the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction and is the author of ten additional titles, both contemporary and historical. She blogs monthly for Christian Authors Network, Heroes, Heroines & History, contributes to the American Christian Fiction blog, and writes her own weekly inspirational blog. She appears on an area radio broadcast, Write Time Radio, and teaches writing workshops when not wrangling Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley.
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