Monday, February 27, 2012

Interview with Author Thomas Blubaugh

Tom resides with his wife, Barbara, in the Ozark hills of southwest Missouri. They have six children and fourteen grandchildren. Tom started writing poetry when he was fourteen. He had hopes that his poems would be turned into songs for Elvis and other popular artists. This dream didn’t develop, but he continued writing. Tom has written nonfiction most of his adult life. He has published Behind the Scenes of the Bus Ministry (1974), written articles for denominational magazines and business publications, co-written a devotional journal The Great Adventure (2009), and his first novel Night of the Cossack was published by Bound by Faith Publishers (2011).

This book can only be described as a rare gem. Truly a work of art! I couldn't put it down. You won't find another book like it on the shelf these days.” -- Salena Stormo

Hello Tom! Night of the Cossack is a compelling adventure about a teenager who is forced to grow up rather quickly. Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

It’s a story about my maternal grandfather who died before I was born. I had a little information about him, one being he was a Cossack soldier in Russia. I researched enough to know the information I had was factual and I began writing about him for myself. It was very important to me since both of my grandfathers were gone before I came on the scene. I always wanted to have a grandfather. I didn’t really think about it being published until sometime after I started the project.

This is so awesome. As some of you know, I fly throughout the U.S., teaching people how to write the stories of their ancestors. This subject is very dear to me. So… what is a Cossack?

Cossacks were members of several peasant groups of Russian and Polish descent. They lived in autonomous communal settlements, especially in the Ukraine, until the early 20th century. In return for special privileges, they served in the cavalry under the czars. They were well known for their horsemanship. They raided villages for supplies, women, and young men to increase or replenish their ranks. Eventually they became a part of the Russian army.

What age group would appreciate Night of the Cossack?

I have received correspondence from readers age twelve through eighty-six telling me how much they enjoyed my book. It’s classified as a YA novel, but I think of it as a historical fiction for all ages.

What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?

This was very interesting. I was not fond of history as a student, but I found the study of Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Italy, France and the Cossacks to be fascinating. I used our local library, the Internet, a travel agency in Ukraine and the museum at Ellis Island as sources of historical information. I also used the map department of Missouri State University to review actual maps of the time of my novel. I also talked with a Russian History professor at MSU and interviewed students from Russia and Ukraine and an elderly Jewish lady from Poland.

That must have been so interesting to interview everyone. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

As a result of a series of events I became homeless in 1998. Although it seemed tragic at the time, God used it for good. After years of being self-employed, I found myself free to pursue writing and volunteer work and for the first time in years—I had time to smell the roses.

Ahhhhh! To smell the roses! How wonderful! Now we know the inspiration behind your novel: Your Grandfather! Thank you, Tom, for taking the time to talk about your book. My dear readers, I just wanted you to know that the first page of Tom’s book grabs you right away. Read it and see what I mean. 

Chapter 1

Nathan’s eyes flew open. Sounds, screams and gunshots penetrated the cold air of his upstairs bedroom. The pungent smell of smoke invaded his nose. He coughed. Am I having a nightmare? Shadows danced wildly across the ceiling and down the walls. Heart pounding, he threw off his covers, jumped out of bed, and rushed to the window. His little brother, Israel, followed. Its real!

“What is it, Nathan?” Israel whispered.

Nathan pulled his brother against the wall behind him.

“Hey! I want to see!”

“Shush, Israel.” Nathan looked through the window at the valley below, his heart racing. Men in long coats and fur hats were running through the village brandishing swords and raising rifles. Cossacks!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Interview with YA Romance Author Sherry Gammon

Sherry Gammon is a mother of six beautiful children. She began writing poetry at the age of 12, and fell in love with writing. Sherry is a grandmother to one beautiful baby…so far, and has written four books. Unlovable is the first in the series but each one is a standalone book. A bit of trivia about Sherry! She was not happy with the way Ms. Rowling was killing off her favorite characters in Harry Potter, so she rewrote the book how SHE wanted it to end…needless to say, it will never be published.

Unlovable is a very lovable story…Despite the heart-breaking moments of this novel (and Unlovable has quite a few of these), I loved every word, sentence, page, chapter I read. While I usually prefer more lighthearted stories, there is something special about this novel and the way it's written that made it possible for me to get completely sucked into the story.” –Fictional Distraction

Hello Sherry! This book is a young adult romantic thriller. Please tell us about your novel.

Seventeen year-old Maggie Brown is truly the poster child for Heroin Chic, complete with jutting bones and dark-ringed eyes. But drugs are not Maggie's problem... her mother is. Maggie’s struggling with her growing feelings for the new guy at school, Seth Prescott, and fears he is just another person who will let her down, like everyone in her life has done thus far. Seth Prescott is an undercover cop assigned to Port Fare High, and despite his job, he’s developed strong feelings for Maggie. Seth’s working tirelessly to flush out the sadistic drug peddlers that have invaded the small town of Port Fare, New York, while Maggie fights to stay alive as the search turns deadly. Seth and Maggie’s romantic journey is one of humor, heartbreak and self-discovery as their world is about to change forever.

Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

I grew up with a couple of girls who had a rough go of things. I formed Maggie's character around these two girls. The drug part was all made up, thankfully!!

Thrillers tend to keep a reader on the edge of their seat. What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?

Lots. I didn't know anything about guns, drugs, or the MET. I had to research quite a bit, plus I interviewed people I knew who were familiar in each of these areas.

I bet that was so interesting to interview all those people. What does your family think about your writing?

Love it. Completely supportive in every way! I'm very blessed, that's for sure. My hubby is very encouraging. He is a good editor also! 

Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

I have six toes on both my feet! 

What did you say? Hahaha! Well, at least you got my readers attention.

Okay, not really. I have lived in five states and 26 different homes! I am a nomad, my kids hate it! We have lived in our current town/ward for almost nine years now. A record for us! And we don't plan on moving any time soon. We love New York…though we hate the taxes!! We are only 20ish minutes from the sacred grove!! Is there a more perfect place! 

Oh my gosh! 26 homes? I bet that’s a real record for most kids. So you’re from New York, eh? My hubby and I went to Palmyra and walked through the historical sites a few years ago. It was the most amazing experience. We even saw the Hill Cumorah Pageant.  Loved it! I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a fun and spiritual vacation.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Interview with Author and Artist JoAnn Arnold

JoAnn is the author of 5 books, plus 1 that she co-authored. She enjoys writing in different genres. JoAnn and her husband, Brent, live in Santa Clara, Utah. They have four sons, four daughters-in-law, and fifteen grandchildren. All of their sons live out-of-State. She explained that is what happens when you send sons on missions. They find there is life outside Utah. 

Hello JoAnn! Oh my gosh! You're from Santa Clara? I live in the same area. What a coincidence! Here we are, living just a few miles from each other and didn’t even know it, and we finally meet through an interview. What a small world! Okay, please tell us about your novel.

Hi Linda. Thank you for giving this interview. Journey of the Promise is a story of a young woman, Callie McAllister, who falls in love with the perfect man and moves into the perfect house, a beautiful mansion. But it isn’t long before she finds out that her husband is far from perfect.

In Callie’s search for answers, she finds herself in the part of the mansion that has been closed for several years. As she wanders through the rooms, she finds a journal written by her husband’s great-great-grandfather and her life suddenly takes on a new meaning. She sets out on a journey that leads her though secret rooms and hidden caves to those who have waited hundreds of years for her to fulfill a promise made in another time. 

I’m intrigued with the subject of this book. Where did you get your inspiration for this novel?

When I first started writing this book I had a totally different concept as to where it was going. Callie was a grandmother. When I finished the third chapter, Callie told me she didn’t want to be a grandmother, she wanted to be a young woman who was about to have an incredible experience.

“Okay,” I said and I went back to the first chapter and began changing Callie’s life. After I did that, Characters began introducing themselves and I decided to let them tell the story and I would do the writing. It was one fun experience. So far I haven’t used life experiences in writing my novels. I get an idea and let the imagination do the rest. 

You are also an artist. “Watching for Daddy” is an adorable painting. Does painting bring out a different side of you that is completely separate from writing? Tell us your thoughts about this.

I have found that writing and painting both use the same part of the brain. When you are doing a painting, you are telling a story on canvas. When you write a book, you are painting a picture in the reader’s mind. Sometimes when I have mind-block while writing, I’ll work on a painting and visa-versa. I have a passion for painting and that same passion for writing.

Your paintings are so beautiful. Visit JoAnn’s Website and see her beautiful artwork. What does your family think about your writing?

After reading my first two books, “Miracles for Michael,” and “Journey of the Promise,” Devin, my third son, called me and said, “Mom, while I’m reading your books, I have to keep reminding myself that this author is my mother. I didn’t know you had an imagination. I decided to do a little research on why some have an imagination and some don’t. I found that everyone has an imagination when they’re little, but most of them grow up. Mom, you have never grown up.”

My family is very supportive and my husband cleans the house while I write, then does the editing, making sure my punctuations are in the right place and all the words are spelled correctly.

What a wonderful husband! You are very blessed to have a man like that. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

I have Meniere’s Disease which is a disease of the inner ear. Through acupuncture I can keep it under control but I can’t eat anything with sugar in it or I’ll have an attack. I have learned how to eat and what to eat. I make the best muffins with carrot pulp and pineapple pulp, multigrain flour and unsweetened chocolate chips. Dark chocolate is my best friend. Haven’t had a pop in over 15 years. 

Dark chocolate, eh? Thank you so much for this interview, JoAnn. My readers and I have gotten to know a very talented person. By the way, I love your son’s perspective of an author’s imagination…that we’ve never grown up. Hahaha!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Interview with Sweet Romance Author Jewel Adams

Jewel Adams stays crazy busy with her family and writing. She has written several books in different genres and is also a motivational speaker to both youth and adult audiences. She home schools her four kids that are still at home, and between that and conjuring up new ideas for her books, her brain is completely fried most of the time. She and her husband Sean are the parents of eight children, which means they are both losing hair, but hey, that's what Rogaine is for, right? She and her family reside in Utah.

This story really tugs my heart strings and it was done in the most tasteful manner. It is a true love story of two people deeply in love, who love their family while facing life's many trials.”

Hello Jewel! It's nice meeting you. We don't live very far from each other. What a coincidence! Please tell us about your novel.

The Legacy was a two year long project. It’s the story of a young black woman who leaves her tragic past behind and changes her life. So many wonderful blessings come into her life, but she still feels unworthy of them and has yet to understand her worth in the eyes of God. She soon finds love and that knowledge eventually comes, but she soon faces some trials she never expected.

I usually put a little of myself in my heroines, but I put more of myself in Cisely, the heroine of The Legacy, than any other character. When you read about her past, the abuse, and then the days of drugs and alcohol, that was me. It took a long time for me to see what God sees in me. He sent me a great husband and eight amazing kids. Now I just enjoy life and take the joys and the trials as they come.

Wow! Isn't it amazing how the Lord watches over us and helps us find true happiness. You are very blessed. I read your book and your style of writing is new to me. Please tell my readers about it.

I like writing in first person-present tense because I'm able to really get into the main character's head and show more emotion. I also write in first person-past tense in some of my other books.

Where did you get your inspiration for this story?

Many times, I do draw on some life experiences, I just change the names to protect the innocent, and the guilty:-) Sometimes I use the experiences of others. My desk sits in front of my bedroom window, which is over the garage. Sometimes I sit and watch the neighbors coming and going. They have no idea of the stories or characters they inspire:-)

Haha! That’s so funny! A Reviewer wrote, “I am so enchanted by this story. The Legacy is beautifully written, heartfelt and very inspirational. I'm an avid reader and this is, hands down, the best love story I have ever read. I started reading and simply could not stop until I reached the end (I did not even stop to dry my tears.) … I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to find a story that does not center on the physical aspect of relationships!” Tell us your thoughts about this, especially the last sentence.

When I was a teenager, I loved to read romance novels, but the only ones available were Harlequin, and this was way before their Loved Inspired novels. When I was older and began thinking about writing, I decided to write romance that was uplifting and clean. Most of my books are interracial romance because that's what I know, and I like to write stories that are emotion-driven, and stories that featured characters with Christian morals and values without being preachy. I love hearing from fans how my books have affected them. Some of the emails make me totally teary and they reaffirm my determination to never sell my fans out by crossing the line and introducing immorality in my writing. Some enjoy more physical stories and that's completely okay. I'll never judge anyone for what they enjoy reading because we all like different things. 

What does your family think about your writing?

It's funny, but my oldest daughter likes to read my books and has finally gotten past the “Mom, I can't believe you wrote that! You're my Mom!” syndrome. It was okay for her to read passionate love stories from other authors, but having her mom write those things was just totally weird. I think she is good with it now:-) The rest of the family thinks it's pretty cool.

I know exactly what you mean. My books are sweet romances, too, and a couple of my daughters felt the same way. What a coincidence! Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

I seriously cannot go a whole day without orange Tic tacs. My kids call them my drug of choice. Heaven will not be heaven without them:-) Okay, something serious: When I was a kid, I suffered a lot of abuse for a lot of years, but I had dreams just like any other child. And even though they were grandiose dreams, they could never compare to the life I have been blessed with. God had bigger plans for me than I had for myself. It's nice to know He saw the real me and knew what was best for me. 

Thank you so much for this interview, Jewel. I look up to you because of what you have become through all the difficulties in your life. Now I know the real you: a woman of courage!