Friday, February 29, 2008

Interview with Susan May Warren

She's an inspirational speaker, a fantastic teacher, and an awesome writer (one of my favorites!). Please welcome the fantabulous Susan May Warren as she talks about her new book, Taming Rafe, a delicious tale about a hunk and the heroine who's got him all figured out.

Susie, what was your inspiration behind the Noble Legacy series?

I grew up loving all things cowboy - horses and trucks and songs, immersed in shows like Bonanza, and Big Valley and Louis L'Amour books. I dreamed of living on a ranch someday, in love with the land of the west. But I didn't want to write a western - I wanted a contemporary story, with real-day issues, and today's "cowboys." This story sat in my heart for three years before God opened the doors for me to actually travel to Montana and actually live the ranch life, learn to rope, and peel back the stereotype to peek at the realities of ranch life. I tried to write a story based on
theses observations and actualities, while still preserving the magic of the west.

What do you consider to be key elements to building a great hero and heroine?

A hero has to have something noble about him - I often call it a noble cause, but something he would die for. He also needs to have a flaw, something deep that the heroine can minister to. A heroine needs to have confidence in something, and she also much have a beautiful quality about her - even if it is something only the hero sees. I think the most important part of building characters is to really get to know your characters, not just their outward habits, but why they do things - and that will make them leap off the page.

Where do you start when developing your stories? With the setting, the characters, the plot?

I start with a premise, or an idea, and then match a character to that premise (or sometimes that premise includes the character). Then I have a unique plotting system that unearths the story particular to my character. I then do research and refine the plot, and the world and the setup.

What are your favorite kinds of stories?

I've written in Romantic Suspense and Chick Lit. Next year, I'm branching out into more of mystery/thriller series with a PI named PJ Sugar, although it will have all the elements of a SMW novel - a strong heroine, a romance or two, suspense, intrigue and of course strong spiritual elements. I love writing Romantic suspense, so all my books will have varying degrees of suspense in them, even if it's not the main theme.

MyBookTherapy is an awesome blog! I can't recommend it enough. Susie, what gave you the idea to start it and have you thought about turning it into a book?

I love teaching, and I'm very grateful for the Lord's generosity in allowing me to write books. I believe that fiction is one of the most impactful avenues for sharing God's truth and grace with a hurting world - so if I can encourage people in their walk to write the stories God has put in their hearts, then I feel I've used well the gifts He's given me. I'm truly thrilled when someone I've worked with gets a publishing contract. God's sovereign, and He's going to do as He pleases in all our lives, for our good and His glory. Knowing that, I'm so thrilled to be a part of the process.

Will there be a third book in the Noble Legacy series?

Yes. Finding Stephanie will release in July of this year.
In reading your MyBookTherapy blog, I've noticed you're faith seems to be a integral part of your writing process. Could you elaborate a bit on that observation?

I believe firmly that our time here on earth is meant to prepare us for eternity - and that starts with a relationship with God. So, having been a recipient of so much grace in my life, I try and pass that in into my stories - filling them with hope, and encouragement, filled with real characters who struggle with real issues. Of course, I like to do it all against a great backdrop of intrigue or suspense, or even the beauty of a state like Montana! My desire is that, when people finish my stories, they are inspired to seek after the God they met in my books.

You give great instruction for all levels of writers. What do you think is the most significant piece of wisdom for a writer to learn early on?

Write the stories that are on your heart, and learn your genre very well, by reading stories in that genre, and studying them copiously. Also - get a team of critiquers who will give you honest feedback!

Susie, thank you so much for sharing with us!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Letting Go

951798_fashion_jewellery_2"But the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me." —the words of Jesus, John 14:31

Let me tell you about a story I heard years ago. I can't remember where, so if the author (or songwriter) is out there somewhere and reads this, please take your credit.

It's about a little girl who constantly carried a set of glass beads. The necklace belonged to her mother who died several years ago. They were worn and tattered, but the little girl never let them out of her sight.

One day, her father pulled her into his lap. A warm fire blazed in the hearth. Each night before bedtime, her father would tell her a story, but this night he looked at the beads she clutched in her hands. "Will you let me have those beads?"

Read the rest of this Weekend Devotion over at S.U.M.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Moments of Glory

Girls_2The most precious times of our lives can be spent simply around a table, reminiscing the past. My family and I did this last night. We all went out for pizza and dragged my daughter's wonderful boyfriend along with us. I look at her now, around the same age I had started dating my husband, and I praise God that the young man she is dating is a strong man of God. I look at them with eyes of wonder and curiosity. What must it be like to start "in God"?

Such memories we recalled of our years living abroad, when both our girls were young. Tales of mishaps, memories of creeks, bees, and rollerblading. Our time there holds a mix of pain and joy, of struggles that pushed me to edge of my faith and forced me into the arms of God's faithfulness. During this time, the seeds of my girls' faith journeys were planted and have now sprouted and continue to grow. Already I see God working in their lives and using their fledgling faith to further his kingdom.

As I type these words, I realize it's not so much how we start, but how we finish.

Read the rest at S.U.M.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sacrificial Giving

708892_insipite_storms_1With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I'm wracking my brain about what to give my dear hubby. I'd love to surprise him with something special, something out of the ordinary.

The usuals, like chocolates and a romantic card are always great fallbacks. I like those myself, but could I do something more? Maybe something that would even reflect the love God holds for him?

What could I give sacrificially to show how much I love him? This line of thinking led me down a unique path. Instead of what I can do, maybe I should think about what I shouldn’t do.

Read the rest at S.U.M.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Battle We Can’t See

572269_armorIf you’re like me, you most likely get pulled in multiple directions on a daily basis. Interruptions abound and your self-identity is as apparent and flittering as the steam on the bathroom mirror. And that’s if you even got a shower that day. You’re a mother, a wife, someone’s assistant-boss-you fill in the blank, the maid, the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker. My job changes according to what time of day it is. Yes, I can see the bobbing heads already. You know exactly what I mean.

So often our lives become more about what’s going wrong than what’s going right. How can it not when we are barraged moment by moment by the same circumstances or new ones compounding the old? By the end of the day, our brains feel like a battlefield and our hearts have the holes to show for it.

How much longer can we continue, we wonder? What would happen if we just stopped? Or maybe you’re standing there having one of those “Christmas Story” daydreams where your family falls weeping at your feet when they realize your current death sentence is due to their lack of help, understanding, and appreciation. (I’m laughing as I type this because I did this very thing as I emptied the dryer last night.)

Read the rest at S.U.M.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Awaken My Heart by DiAnn Mills

I'm tickled to welcome DiAnn Mills back to talk about her latest release, Awaken My Heart, a story set in 1803, the Colony of Texas. DiAnn's books are about the only historicals I'll read because she weaves such enchanting romances with just the right amount of intrique. One lucky winner will receive a signed copy of this book, so be sure the leave a comment.

About the book...
Journey back to the early days of southwest history when the Spanish ruled the vast territory of Texas and padres instructed the people in the ways of God. Step into the world of handsome vaqueros and brightly dressed dark-eyed maidens.

The time is 1803. This is the era of Marianne Phillips and Armando Garcia, two people separated by race and culture but destined for love. Marianne is the daughter of a wealthy American rancher, a man who will do anything to please the Spanish and secure his land. Armando is a Mexican peasant, a rebel according to the Spanish. He has committed his life to helping the poor rise from poverty and the oppression of the ruling Spanish. Armando and Marianne . . . Two unlikely people who have little in common. Or do they?

Open this book to a romance that will live in your heart long after the story is told. Curl up in a serape and listen to the strum of a Spanish guitar. I invite you to read with your heart and become a part of a love story that only the hand of God could orchestrate.

From DiAnn...
When I was a kid, I used to get spanked for lying. Now I get paid for it! Ah, such is the life of a fiction writer. Hi, I’m DiAnn Mills, and I’m the new kid on the block with Avon Inspire.

I live in Texas, the Lone Star State, where history and adventure are carved out of ordinary people and presented in novels and across the screen. Texas provides the perfect setting for tales of adventure. Here you can find cowboys and rodeos, deserts and mountains, bluebonnets and cactus, rattlesnakes and alligators, trail rides and space exploration. The romance and intrigue of those who helped build this State weave powerful stories. You name it, and Texas has it. But it’s the stories about the courageous people who stand tall and make this state what it is today that captures the readers’ attention.

Let me introduce you to my February release!

Awaken My Heart is set in 1803, when Texas was Tejas, a colony ruled by Spain. Indians, Mestizos (native-Spanish lineage), and the elite ruling class of the Spanish lived and died here. The priests living in the Catholic missions helped educate and train the people in various crafts and how to serve God. From this culture was born my story of forbidden love.

Which brings me to one of my greatest heroes—Zorro. Who can forget the handsome, daring masked man who championed the poor and fought the injustices of his people? His flashing sword, generous smile, and chivalry would bend the strongest woman’s resolve. It also helped Zorro’s cause to be portrayed by Antonio Bandera in The Mask of Zorro (1998) and The Legend of Zorro (2005).

Is it no wonder that I call Awaken My Heart my Zorro book? My hero, Armando Garcia, is passionate about the cause of his poverty-stricken people, but his passion also extends to Marianne Wharton, the daughter of a wealthy American rancher. The wealthy and the peasant. The Diablo and his angel. And her daddy ain’t happy. Oops! I mean Marianne’s father is out for blood.

This isn’t the first book I’ve written about historical Texas. The Texas Legacy Series was set in the period of the Old West when lawlessness and unscrupulous characters crawled out from under rocks and attempted to claim the state. I chose unlikely heroes and heroines who made a courageous stand for what they believed in.

Hop into the saddle and grab the reins. This ride will keep you up all night.