3 Questions Wednesday with Jerusha Agen

Today’s 3 Questions Wednesday guest is author, Jerusha Agen.

Jerusha AgenGlad you could join us Jerusha. First question:

Which author would you never get tired of, and why?

Jerusha: Jane Austen. She had a remarkable ability to capture absolute reality with a level of wit, intelligence, and insight that rendered her stories not only entertaining, but also edifying. She also had a commitment to avoid writing that was “gross” or reflected a “low scale of morals,” which I greatly admire and appreciate as a reader. That principle did not detract from the realism of her writing one bit!

I am also a fan of Austen. Her characters and situations are timeless.

Who is your favorite fictional villain?

Jerusha: Hmm. I’ve never thought of having a “favorite” villain. The most well-written villains make me dislike them intensely! If I had to choose one, I’d say Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations. She’s a thoroughly complex and multi-faceted villain who can be funny, as well as alternately kind and cruel. What I like best about her, though, is the unforgettable lesson she provides of the consequences of bitterness and unforgiveness.

Nice choice! I never thought of her as a villainess, but you’re right. Now, one last question:

What project are you currently working on?

Jerusha: I’m excited about my current project, a suspense novel about a Chicago social worker who meets an orphaned teen with unexpectedly unique qualities. As they encounter dangers together, this teenager makes the cynical social worker face long-hidden fears and reconsider everything she thinks about God and life itself.

I’m excited too! As a fan of your Sisters Redeemed series, I’m looking forward to your next release. Thanks so much for participating in 3 Questions Wednesday.

Readers: Jerusha is giving away the e-book version of This Redeemer.

Please leave a comment below to be included in the drawing.

More about Jerusha Agen:

Jerusha Agen is a lifelong lover of story–a passion that has led her to a B.A. in English and a highly varied career. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Jerusha is the author of the Sisters Redeemed Series, which includes the titles This Dance, This Shadow, and This Redeemer. Jerusha co-authored the e-books A Ruby Christmas, A Dozen Apologies, and The Love Boat Bachelor from Write Integrity Press.

Jerusha relishes snowy Midwest winters spent with her three large, furry dogs and two small, furry cats.

Jerusha’s website: SDG Words

Jerusha on Twitter 

Jerusha on Facebook


This Redeemer

This_Redeemer_FRONT_COVER resized (655x1024)Not all prisons have bars.

Charlotte Davis should know—she’s lived in one for years. She can handle getting slapped around by her boyfriend, Tommy, and even being forced to do things she would never choose, but when Tommy turns on her 10-year-old daughter, Charlotte must try to escape. With nowhere else to turn, Charlotte runs to the stranger her dying mother believed would help her.

Looking only for shelter or cash, Charlotte finds a family she longs to call her own and a gentle man she could learn to love. But if Tommy catches up with Charlotte, these strangers could discover the truth about her. Will they send her back to Tommy? Or can a Father’s love set her free?

Sisters Redeemed on YouTube

March’s Parade of Comics and Cartoons

By Karen Jurgens

Garfield

This month we will be discussing ideas from comics and cartoons to add to your writing files. How do those entertaining “funnies” inspire us? After I had done research on this topic, I discovered a recurring theme that threads them together. They’re merely snippets and capsules of those literary terms we learned in English class, which we weave through our own writing creations.

Hulk

Let’s begin with the ten greatest comic book artists of all time. Did you know that everything from action blockbusters to The Lego Movie has had its origin in comics? The Amazing Spider-Man, Powerman (from which the iconic Joker in Batman originates), Giant Size Hulk, Astro Boy, Iron Man, The Twilight Zone, and Captain America are examples of the best-known, flying off the printed page and onto the big screen at the movie theater and at home. You can read all about them HERE.

Cartoons and animated movies are popular on both the web and TV, and a great way to entertain children of all ages. Back in my childhood days, we had cartoons only on TV (does anyone remember the sing-along songs with the bouncing ball?), and we had the comics in the daily newspaper. I especially looked forward to the Sunday edition, which was pages long and in color. I followed my favorites over the years—from Dennis the Menace to Blondie, and Peanuts to Garfield.

Cathy weblogs.balt

The award for my all-time favorite cartoon goes to Cathy…a single, self-supporting female who always struggled to stay on a diet. The funniest strip involved a talking scale that she couldn’t resist stepping on (you might have also had that scale, like I did, back in the 90’s). After she had stressed all that day to find the perfect slimming outfit to wear to a party, she arrived looking gorgeous. Exiting to powder her nose, everyone in the room heard the scale announce—in its booming computer voice—your weight is 145 pounds. How could she face her friends after that? Just remembering her shocked embarrassment still makes me laugh.

Cartoons, however, aren’t penciled just for children…political and editorial cartoons are widespread and have a huge adult following. They embody satire, paradox, irony, allegory, metaphor, and hyperbole, which are brilliantly expressed through their artwork and concise words—and are sometimes communicated just in the drawings alone. You can find them on various websites and in magazines like The New Yorker, U.S. World & News Report, and Reader’s Digest.

Interested in creating your own comic? I actually found a website with step-by-step instructions for exactly how to do it. Click HERE to explore the possibilities. I have always wondered why I never saw a comic strip about a teacher and the funny situations they all face in school every day (hmm, I’ll have to think about that one…). Who knows? Perhaps you can even translate your own experiences into the next great comic strip or cartoon.

In the meantime, we can learn a lot as we laugh our way through the illustrations and animated drawings that inspire creativity to use in our own writing. I hope you enjoy this month’s treasure chest of inspiration and fun.

treasure chest  comics everything4less

Photos courtesy of everything4less, Webblogs.balt

 

The $25 Gift Card Winner is . . .

Sniff-sniff! Guess what?

I’m stopping in to bring good news!

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Deanna S. has won a $25 gift card!

Thanks, Deanna and all our commenters for taking the time to leave a comment at Writing Prompts and Thoughts and Ideas…Oh My!

Guess what–guess what? The contest resets. You could be our next winner! Just leave a comment on our regular Monday and Friday posts. And if you finish a writing prompt on our regular posts, you’ll receive an additional entry.

There are lots of opportunities to win here at Writing Prompts. Nearly every week, we’re giving away fresh new books on 3 Questions Wednesday. This week, it’s author Jerusha Agen–she’s giving away a book called This Redeemer. I’ve heard it’s riveting. So stop back in often and take a minute or two to comment.

Did you know–you can sign up to receive our new posts via email? Just click the “Follow” button. That way, you’ll never miss an opportunity to win!

Storms in Serenity by Fay Lamb

Fay TeachingToday, my close friend, Fay Lamb, joins us to talk about her newest release, Storms in Serenity. Let’s start at the beginning. Have you always wanted to be an author?

Fay:  When I say that I have always wanted to write, I mean that my earliest memories are of story. As a child, I told stories. I had children in the neighborhood act out plays. As a teenager in high school, classmates knew me as a writer. I believe I still hold the record for the most English credits by one student. My handwriting is atrocious because I spent hours as a teenager writing stories in notebooks. One of my friends shares that passion, and we wrote together or worked on telling a story. She’d start and stop at a point, and I would pick up. I would have rather been doing something story related than to have breathed back then. I carried the desire into my early twenties where it only grew more important to me as I realized that if God placed this yearning for story in me, I had a responsibility to give Him my all.

I wrote stories in notebooks also. How about now? Do you write every day? What does your typical writing day look like?

Fay: I do write every day. I have to confess that it isn’t always fiction. I wear a lot of hats: bookkeeper, housekeeper, wife, mother, writer, editor … I sometimes have to pull away from my fiction until I can get the roles balanced enough for me to put on my writer’s cap. But when I do settle down to a story, I tend to write daily, and when it is finished, I’ll edit daily as well.

You’re so disciplined! Does this carry over to marketing as well? What’s your favorite marketing strategy?

Fay: One in which I don’t have to market. Only kidding. I’ve struggled with marketing, but I still work at it. My publisher has a great marketing team. I’m a member of that team along with each of Write Integrity Press authors. We work at sharing each other’s promotions and trying to stay away from the dreaded self-promotions. I like working with others and helping others, and I do that with the promotions of not only the Write Integrity authors but of other authors whose work I consider worthwhile. It doesn’t seem so much like marketing if you’re posting interviews with other authors. Likewise, I have The Tactical Editor blog in which I share everything from editing advice, to writing advice, and even encouragement.

With that said, I guess my favorite type of promotion is actually away from the computer. I teach at conferences. I’m always antsy while trying to prepare for the workshop or classes, but God seems to put it all in place. I’m not a great speaker, but I hope that my passion for fiction pours out when I talk about it.

I’ve been in your classes, and you’re a better speaker than you think :) You have a lot on your plate. Tell us what project you’re currently working on.

Fay: I have a couple of projects right now. I am a managing editor for a new magazine that premiers in June. Imaginate is a place where artists of all genres can share their imaginations with readers.

Novel-wise, I’m writing the next book in the Amazing Grace series, Everybody’s Broken. It’s a romantic suspense that centers around the brokenness caused by one man’s death and what he was to those who knew him and loved him best. His murder has his widow and their two boys on the run where they end up in his hometown with his family that he never told her he had.

Sounds like another exciting story! Last question. Have you ever had an interesting experience connected with being an author?

Fay: I fondly recall the 2010 American Christian Writers Conference. From about 1999 to 2003, I had stopped writing with an intent to publish. I’d had an agent, whom I will not name, hurt me badly with something he said, and I sunk into a deep writer’s depression. When I came out of it in 2003, I was still very much unhappy with this particular agent, but I had determined that I was going to prove him wrong. So I began to study the craft, and in 2010 with my first finished novel in years, I was up for the Genesis award at ACFW.

That’s when the Lord started working on my heart. In particularly, He challenged me about my bitterness toward the agent. I knew that when I attended ACFW that year, this agent would be there, and God was prompting me to talk to him.
I didn’t want to do that. He could stay in his corner, and I’d stay in mine.
God didn’t leave me alone about that. So, I challenged God to really show me that I needed to talk to the guy.
I drove to Indianapolis that year, and I was so excited. I was going to catch up with a dear friend. Well, that friend knew about my problems with the agent because she was there when he devastated me with his words. Dear friend rushes to my car before I can give my key to the valet. She whispers to me that the agent I so want to avoid is in the car behind me.
No one has ever declared me pliable. I have a strong will, and like He did with Peter, God has to keep confirming what He wants me to do. I prayed and asked God to clarify His intent.
Mr. Agent follows me into the hotel, and is standing in line behind me.
Not to be outdone by Peter, I need that third clarification. I refuse to even look at the man behind me.
The next day, I meet up with my wonderful writing mentor for lunch, and I’m compelled to tell her the back story about me and Mr. Agent. She sits back in her seat and informs me that he’s her agent, and I really need to talk to him.
I’m not about to tell God that I need another bit of encouragement to do His will. That evening I step into the agent panel. I sit through the entire session. I sit through the long line waiting to talk to Mr. Agent until finally we’re the only two people in the room.
I take a deep breath, and I walk up to him. “You may not remember me, but you really hurt my feelings many years ago.”
Of course he didn’t remember me, but he looks stricken. “Oh no, what did I say to you?”
I told him his exact words–the ones that bitterness had etched onto my heart.
He actually winced and mentions a very famous author that he allowed to get away from his representation. He declares, “What do I really know?” Then he said, “I’m so sorry.”
It wasn’t until that moment I realized that God didn’t have me there for his apology to me, and I blurted out, “No. You don’t understand. I want to thank you. What you said to me back then hurt me, but I hurt myself even more. You were right, and if I’d taken the hurt back then and used it to prove you wrong, I would have realized I had so much to learn before seeking representation, and I wouldn’t have lost four years to self-pity.”
As I was leaving, I turned around to him, and my parting words were, “I’m still too afraid to meet with you at the conference, but would you consider allowing me to send you my most recent manuscript?”
What was he going to do after that, tell me no? Instead, he tells me to be sure to write in the query letter that I’m the one who shamed him at the ACFW Conference.
I’m not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. I was too frightened to ask.
Wow. God certainly has a way of working all things to good. Thanks, Fay, for stopping in today! If you’d like to win an autographed copy of Storms in Serenity, please leave a comment and we’ll enter you into the drawing.

 

Storms in SerenityStorms in Serenity Cover

A hurricane is barreling toward Serenity Key, but the town is already dealing with another storm brewing on the island, and it has nothing to do with atmospheric pressure. Jake New has a secret he’s guarded for thirty years, and a spiritual tempest is about to lay it bare.

When the daughter he has never met is reported missing, apparently the victim of a hideous crime, and the lives of others he loves begin to unravel, Jake learns that the sins he thought so personal weren’t so private after all. The consequences are wreaking havoc in ways he never dreamed possible.

God is the only one Who can calm the storms, but can Jake and Serenity Key survive until He does?

Fay Lamb is an author, editor, and writing coach. Her emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Fay has contracted three series. Stalking Willow and Better than Revenge, Books 1 and 2 in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series are currently available for purchase. Charisse and Libby the first two novels in her The Ties That Bind contemporary romance series have been released. Fay has also collaborated on three romance novellas: The Christmas Three Treasure Hunt, A Ruby Christmas, A Dozen Apologies, and the newest adventure The Love Boat Bachelor. Her adventurous spirit has taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.

Storms in Serenity (release February 2015), is the first novel in her Serenity Key series.

Future releases from Fay are: Everybody’s Broken and Frozen Notes, Books 3 and 4 of Amazing Grace and Hope and Delilah, Books 3 and 4 from The Ties that Bind.

Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook. She’s also active on Twitter. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor. And, yes, there’s one more: Goodreads.

 

Oops, I did it Again. Got Lost in Pop Culture

Recently Saturday Night Live celebrated its 40th anniversary with a TV special that exhibited pop culture over the years.

On the red carpet before the event, Sarah Palin and Al Sharpton appeared together in a photo op that spurred headlines like, “Hell Has Frozen Over,” and “End Times are Here.” If you understand political pop culture, you get those headlines.

DCF 1.0In an attempt to neutralize any drama, Sarah Palin focused on the event at hand and commented that Saturday Night Live is “Americana.”

I’m showing my age, but the three-hour tribute to decades of Saturday Night Live brought back a happy memory of the late 1970s when I was finally old enough to babysit. An opportunity to stay up late, seated before a coffee table loaded with assorted junk food and soda (stuff I didn’t get at home), kids asleep, and Saturday Night Live (on one of the three TV channels available), I was IN HEAVEN! And getting paid!

Over the years Saturday Night Live has continued to spoof pop culture.

Today, a multitude of TV channels and the Internet lead to anything from a screaming goat to a Kim Kardashian’s butt becoming current pop culture.

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In writing, using fast-changing pop culture references can be tricky. It’s also important to know your audience in order to create scenes that speak of the pop culture of a specific time period.

I recently wrote a scene in my current WIP showing pop culture from the main character’s childhood. While in India, Rebecca, an American woman, chats with an Indian woman.

“India is a fine place to conquer your greatest fears,” Kumari said.

Rebecca cupped the coconut drink. “Do you have quicksand here? Because my greatest childhood fear was sinking in quicksand.”

“They have quicksand in the States?” Kumari raised an eyebrow.

“They did on Gilligan’s Island.”

“Where is this Gilligan’s Island?”

“Not sure, somewhere beyond a three-hour tour.”

Kumari totally didn’t get that joke.

If you were a 1970s kid, did you harbor that same fear? As a teen, did you play Simon? Master the Rubik’s Cube? Tie-dye a shirt?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ever separate your first two fingers from your last two and greet your friends saying, “Nanoo Nanoo!” Did you fall in love with Chachi from Happy Days?” Grab a hairbrush and sing, “You’re the one that I want. Woohoohoo?”

No idea what I’m talking about? Let’s move up a couple of years. Have you sported a “Rachel” hair cut? Sang, “Oops I did it again?” Danced the Macarena? How about waiting impatiently for the next Harry Potter Book? Ever raised your thumb and pulling a Michelle Tanner, say, “You got it dude!”? Have you stuck a Justin Timberlake picture on your mirror? Or if you’re a guy, Christina Aguilar? Owned a Furby? Wore a fanny pack?

Pop culture.

bible

Given the affect pop culture has on us, as a Christian, I recommend this Biblical advice from Philippians 4:8: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

While keeping lovely, admirable and praiseworthy things foremost in our thoughts as present day earth-dwellers who write, it’s also wise to be aware of pop culture. Take a shot at this writing prompt that deals with pop culture from a specific time period:

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“Go play with your Pokemon cards and leave us alone.” Heather grabbed a beanie baby off her bed and threw it at her brother, missing him as he slammed the door. Sporting the new Rachel cut, she brushed out her hair.

“He’s such a pain.” Ashley, her BFF, restarted the button on the boom box and Heather…

***

All photos from Morgue File

3 Questions Wednesday with Nancy Mehl

Nancy - Promotional Picture - small

 

Today we welcome author Nancy Mehl to 3 Questions Wednesday. So glad you could drop by, Nancy! First question: Which author would you never tire of and why?

Nancy: Agatha Christie. She had a way of constructing her novels like puzzles. I love trying to figure out the puzzle ahead of time.

I love her books also. She has some great villains in her stories. Who is your favorite fictional villain? 

Nancy: Inspector Javert from Les Miserables. He was a very “human” villain. I can’t understand villains who have no trace of humanity. It makes it impossible for readers to relate to their motivation. Javert was created in a way that allowed us to suffer along with him. He was convinced he was a righteous man, and Jean Valjean was a criminal without hope of redemption. When those lines blurred, Javert’s sense of justice failed him, and his only choice was to end his life. He was a heartbreaking figure.

Great answer! Now tell us something about your current project.

Nancy: I’m working on a cozy Amish mystery series, along with several other authors, for Guideposts. The first book in the series will release in June. Also, the third book in my Finding Sanctuary series, Rising Darkness will be out toward the end of 2015.

Sounds like you are staying busy. Thanks for joining us on 3 Questions Wednesday. If you’d like a chance to win a copy of Deadly Echoes (U.S. only), please leave a comment for Nancy below.

Deadly EchoesDeadly Echoes final cover

After a youth filled with tragedy and upheaval, Sarah Miller’s life is finally settled with all echoes of the past silent at last. She happily calls Sanctuary her home and spends her days teaching at the local school.

Sarah’s joy at her recent reunion with her sister, Hannah, and meeting the niece she didn’t know she had is too soon interrupted when Deputy Sheriff Paul Gleason informs Sarah her sister has been killed.

As she learns more about Hannah’s death, the circumstances are eerily similar to their parents’ murder. Sarah enlists Paul’s help in digging deeper into the murders the police are dismissing as burglaries gone wrong. Paul’s concern encourages Sarah’s growing feelings for him, but as their investigation peels back the layers of lies almost twenty years old, they get close to uncovering the truth one person will do anything to hide–even if that means coming after the last remaining members of the Miller family.

Nancy Mehl lives in Festus, Missouri, with her husband, Norman, and her very active puggle, Watson. She’s authored twenty books and just finished a new series for Bethany House Publishing. The first book in her Finding Sanctuary series, Gathering Shadows was released in May of 2014. The second book, Deadly Echoes became available in February.  The third book, Rising Darkness will release late in 2015. She is also working on an Amish cozy mystery series for Guideposts.

Readers can learn more about Nancy through her Web site: www.nancymehl.com. She is part of The Suspense Sisters: www.suspensesisters.blogspot.com, along with several other popular suspense authors. She is also very active on Facebook.

 

Pop Culture to Make Your Setting “Pop”

By Anne Garboczi Evans

Pop culture, according to the dictionary, is current trends, fads, and what’s “hot and new.” I’d like to hazard a guess that I’m not the only writer out there who’s not exactly an expert on pop culture. Red_Pink_Orange_rainbow_toesocks

Remember toe socks?

 I mean, I’m sure there are some writers who were “jocks” in school, spend hours pouring over the trendiest new fashions, and wouldn’t dream of driving anything but the latest model convertible. But then again, when would people busy chasing the latest trends have time to write?

I think a lot of us writers were the kid that absentmindedly pulled out clothes that didn’t match because our nose was buried so deeply in a book that we didn’t notice. Accordingly, most heroes and heroines of fiction are your odd-man out. Whether it’s Disney’s Belle who always has her “nose in a book” and couldn’t care less about the town “jock”, Gaston, or Jo March from Little Women who follows the beat of a different drummer, protagonists are rarely “normal.” The thing is, no matter how disinterested in fads a hero is, to give your book a “real” feel sometimes you need pop culture references. Nothing makes a novel’s description authentic like including the latest fads of that location and era, even if it’s your villain wearing the toe socks rather than your heroine.

Sound good? The only catch is, to put the latest pop culture in your book, you have to actually study up on it. So fish out that celebrity gossip magazine you threw in the trash and start studying up on expensive European cars.

Or you could get around all this work by just writing historical fiction. Because somehow researching 1880s corset styles is a whole lot more intriguing than paging through Miley Cyrus’s latest debacle. (Or maybe that’s just me. ;))

Complete the prompt below for an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via comments.

The setting: A rural Alabama secondhand store in the spring of 2015. List some pop culture references the main characters might mention or think about while there.