Monday, May 15, 2017

H. Schussman Interviews Delia Latham



Heidi~
First, Delia, tell us a little about yourself?

Delia~
I'm a mother of four adult children, nanny to four grandchildren -- a Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend. I live in East Texas, although that's happened very recently. I was born, raised and lived in California's San Joaquin Valley up until my husband retired, and we suddenly became gypsies... moving first to Oklahoma, back to California where we enjoyed a pleasant stint in Tehachapi, and then to Texas to be nearer our grandchildren. One never knows where life will eventually take them.

Heidi~
What genre do you write?
Delia~
I write inspirational romance -- mostly light-hearted, but I like to throw in the occasional dose of deep, wrenching pathos.

Heidi~
When did you start writing?
Delia~
I was born writing. lol  Actually, I'm not sure how far that is from the truth. My earliest memories have me toting some type of notebook and a handful of pencils with me wherever I went. I wrote little stories, poems, songs...whatever came to mind -- and my mind was always busy!

Heidi~
What are you working on now?
Delia~
Right now, I'm mostly promoting my most recent series, Paradise Pines, which is set on California's Central Coast, in Cambria. I've taken a little hiatus from writing, but will be diving in again right away to write a novella for a Christmas collection with a few of my dearest writer pals.

Heidi~
Who is your favorite character in your stories?
Delia~
I can't even imagine trying to choose just one! In Paradise Pines, it's probably Summer. But I really loved Spring Raine, as well...and Autumn, and oh, yes -- Winter! See what I mean? I did love all of my seasonal heroines. Shay Light, one of the secondary characters, was another favorite.

Heidi~
Do you see yourself in any of your characters?
Delia~
Many times. I think all authors tend to write a bit of themselves into their characters. We can't help but do that! Who we are is bound to come through in our characters actions and reactions, even when we try not to let it happen. 

Heidi~
Where do you write? Describe your workspace? 
Delia~
I do have an office... but I often write in my living room. My loveseat, with the center console brought into full use as storage, has become my "lazy writer's desk." I've recently found, though, that I was reclining too much and causing problems in my legs. So I'm trying to write at my desk more, even though I enjoy being where I can see my children and grandchildren when they come traipsing through my house at odd times. I do find it necessary to actually hide away in my office at crunch time, when I'm desperately trying to meet a deadline.

Heidi~
Who are your all-time favorite authors?
Delia~
I grew up reading Grace Livingston Hill, and she had a huge influence on my writing style. Janette Oke is another favorite from years ago. I also enjoy some of the more modern, humorous Christian authors like Mary Connealy and Vickie McDonough. I also love a good suspense story, and even those with a touch of the paranormal. So many good authors...so little time!

Heidi~
Did you find writing a query letter a challenge? If so, how did you overcome it? Do you think there was a key phrase or idea in your query letter?
Delia~
Oh, I love writing query letters...said no author, ever! Query letters are the bane of most authors' existence. For me, the key is to not over-think them. I try to make my queries sound as natural as possible, and I try to have some fun with them. Even editors enjoy a little humor now and then. Of course, there's still a certain core format that needs to be followed, but originality is a wonderful thing!

Heidi~
What advice do you have for a writer aspiring to be published?
Delia~
All the usual things~ Don't give up. Do your homework. Write every day. Yada, yada, yada. Add in one more thing, and push it right up to front of the list: PRAY. Pray long and hard about your writing career before you commit to having one. And then pray before every writing session, inviting God into the pilot's seat, while you slide gracefully into the co-pilot's corner. Having the right hands on the controls goes a long way toward successful landing at your desired destination.

Heidi~
Would you like to acknowledge someone for their help/assistance/faith in you/etc?
Delia~
My dad's brother was my pastor as a child and throughout my teen years. His wife was an amazing woman...talented, funny, anointed, and completely unforgettable. She saw potential in me when I saw none. She knew before I did that I should be writing, and encouraged me in that direction. Without her influence, I doubt I would ever have found the courage to write a book, much less get it published. My only regret is that she didn't live long enough to see it happen. But somehow, I think she knows... :)

Heidi~
Any new releases coming out?
Delia~
Yes! Summer Dream, which releases May 19th. Here's the blurb:

Summer Callahan isn’t in Cambria for the beach or the ocean or the pine-scented air around Paradise Pines Lodge. She’s there as a companion to her flighty cousin, Deah—with the understanding that they will have separate agendas the entire time. Summer just wants to be left alone to dream up the romance novels she writes under a pseudonym.

But never in Summer's wildest writer's imagination does she dream of being caught in an undertow and almost drowning, only to be rescued by a wealthy artist. And when Logan Bullard proves hard to shake, Summer fears for her heart—especially when Deah sets her sights on Logan.

But at Paradise Pines Lodge, what's meant to be has a way of happening...at the best time and in the best way. Miss Angelina Love—who may or may not own the place—has an "in" with Heaven's own "department of romance." And she's determined to see Summer and Logan together.

Heidi~
How can your readers learn more about you and your books?
Delia~
I'm not hard to find, but here are a few key online locations:

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

H. Schussman Interviews Susan Lantz Simpson

Susan Lantz Simpson Interview

Heidi~
First, Susan, tell us a little about yourself.
Susan~
I live in Southern Maryland. I have degrees in English/Education and Nursing. I have taught students from pre-k through high school. I currently work as a community health nurse and write every chance I get. I have two wonderful daughters and three cats.

Heidi~
What genre do you write?
Susan~
I write inspirational fiction. Plainly Maryland is an Amish romance series.

Heidi~
When did you start writing?
Susan~
I wrote my first poem at age six. I have been writing poems and stories ever since.

Heidi~
What are you working on now?
Susan~
I am currently working on two 3-book series for two different publishers.

Heidi~
Where do you write? Describe your workspace?
Susan~
I'm one of those strange writers who writes in long hand, so I write everywhere--at home, in office waiting rooms, wherever I find a few minutes to work. Then I have to find time to type everything later!

Heidi~
Who are your all-time favorite authors?
Susan~
There are so many authors whose books I always read that I can't pick a favorite. I always read novels by Kelly Irvin, Mary Ellis, Dana Mentick, Shirlee McCoy, Vanetta Chapman, Amy Lillard, Ruth Reid....

Heidi~
Did you find writing a query letter a challenge? If so, how did you overcome it? Do you think there was a key phrase or idea in your query letter?
Susan~
The query letter is a bit intimidating because that letter is usually the first contact with an agent or editor. It is the agent's or editor's first glimpse at your writing, and you want them to be impressed enough to ask for more. I communicated with several authors who I trust and respect and got lots of support and guidance from them. I'm thankful my agent, Julie Gwinn at the Seymour Agency, liked my letter, proposal, and book. She took me on as a client right away.

Heidi~
What advice do you have for a writer aspiring to be published?
Susan~
Keep writing! Write every day even if it's just a few paragraphs. Keep reading, especially read the genre you want to write. You can learn so much from published authors.

Heidi~
Would you like to acknowledge someone for their help/assistance/faith in you/etc?
Susan~
My mother always believed in me and encouraged me from my school days on. She always enjoyed reading my stories. Many authors offered me a lot of encouragement, support, and advice. I'm especially grateful that Vanetta Chapman, Kelly Irvin, Mary Ellis, Amy Lillard, Shirlee McCoy, and Dana Mentink took time from their busy schedules to answer my endless questions.

Heidi~
How can your readers learn more about you and your new book (Plain Haven) scheduled to release on 5/15/17?
Susan~
There’s lots of ways to follow me! Check out my: 
Vinspire: http://www.vinspirepublishing.com/plain-haven 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

H. Schussman Interviews Jennifer Bryce


First, Jennifer, tell us a little about yourself. I live in Southeastern Arizona in my three ringed circus -handful of kids, farm animals, and a darling hubster. Currently, I work on an Apache reservation as a nurse at their hospital—that job alone could supply me with endless writing material! Maybe one day I'll actually get a spare minute to take a nap and write a paragraph or two.

Heidi:
What genre do you write? 
Jennifer:
I love sweet romances, but I've dabbled in some magical realism recently. One day I'd like to do a compilation of reflective essays, like Pat McManus has done, about my life being a daughter of a cop and the awkward teenage years...funny stuff there!

Heidi:
When did you start writing?
Jennifer: 
About 8 years ago I found myself on bedrest and had plenty of free time to read. I read a few books that were absolutely garbage. I thought to myself, "I can do a much better job than this."

Heidi:
What are you working on now?
Jennifer: 
Well...I just had a baby a few months ago so I'm working on trying to catch up from that. Seriously, I have the worst case of writer’s block and lack of ambition right now. All you new mothers can probably sympathize right now. I did have a great idea recently that I thought I might pursue with the help of my 12 year old son. There is not much out there for middle grade boy’s fiction right now. I have three boys that love to read and we struggle finding clean stories that they are interested in. I'm sure with my son's help we could come up with a dynamic plot for tween boys.

Heidi:
Who is your favorite character in your stories? 
Jennifer: 
Stucky from Haley's Song. I can feel he has a "rode hard and put away wet" story just itching to come out. His character is the silent hero in the book.

Heidi:
Do you see yourself in any of your characters?
Jennifer: I put a little piece of me in all of them, especially my flaws. It makes them more relatable.

Heidi:
Where do you write? Describe your workspace?
Jennifer: 
On my couch with my feet up! My kids frequently are up to mischief, so I have to put cartoons on and supervise their activities while I write. How's that for multitasking?! My super glamorous life is shining through...

Heidi:
Who are your all-time favorite authors?
Jennifer:
Lately, I've been enjoying Lacy Williams but my favorites are still Pat McManus, Erma Bombeck, and Marcia Lynn McClure.

Heidi: I see you have a new book out, Guardian of the Fountain. Can you tell me a little about it. By the way, I love the cover.
Jennifer: 
I wrote Guardian of the Fountain after Haley's Song. I wanted to give self publishing a try. It's available on Amazon Kindle right now.
Guardian starts in the middle of the story of Chrissie and Brant's love story. I think it's safe to say most of us would like to stop time and aging, this story feeds into that. Brant is the keeper of the much sought after Fountain of Youth but his secret almost costs Chrissie her life.
Chrissie is a down to earth Texan looking for a change in her life. Not normally a person who typically embraces change, Chrissie takes a leap of faith that lands her in the jungles of Venezuela.

Here is the blurb:
Some secrets are better kept…

When a mysterious stranger crawls through her window in the dark of night and claims to have a cure for her disease that claimed 6 months of her memory and is slowly killing her, Chrissie is given a second chance at life. She only has to travel to the jungle of Venezuela to get it.
Then Chrissie meets the gorgeous, Brant Winston the attraction is instant; although she has the strange feeling that she’s met him before. When she stumbles upon secrets tying him to the drug cartel and ancient tribal magic it puts them both in eminent danger. But Brant isn’t the only one with secrets; Chrissie has one very big secret that could destroy their love forever. Some will live and some will die. Who will it be? Only the pure will live.
(Phatpuppy Art did my cover and they did an exceptional job and were great to work with. I have them in mind for a future project about the Angel of Death.)

Heidi:
Did you find writing a query letter a challenge? If so, how did you overcome it? Do you think there was a key phrase or idea in your query letter?
Jennifer:
Query letters are tricky little critters. Luckily, I've been blessed with a great support group of author friends that help me hash them out. I try to come up with a catchy hook right at the beginning and from there it seems to flow easier if I get that part done first.

Heidi:
What advice do you have for a writer aspiring to be published?
Jennifer:
Write because you love to write. Don't do it because you want to make money. This expensive little hobby of mine has left me in the red, wanting to climb back into the black. Passion for writing will sustain you through the $0.84 royalty checks.

Heidi:
Would you like to acknowledge someone for their help/assistance/faith in you/etc?
Jennifer:
Jennifer Griffith Stewart (Author of Big in Japan and Super Daisy), Monica Ragland (writing group buddy and coolest lady I know), and my Dad have all encouraged me to keep at the writing thing. All three have been super helpful with editing, ideas, and just plain encouragement when I needed it the most.




Tuesday, February 21, 2017

New Book Cover for El Tiburon

I am happy in a bittersweet way for my new book cover, El Tiburon. It was a difficult decision and honestly not easy for Vinspire Publishing to do.

Let me take you back to the day I received my book cover. I was thrilled to be published and felt a constant flutter of excitement and awe that I'd been published by a real publisher. They accepted my book on the basis of it being an ethnic romance... she's black, he's white. They are madly in love. They have the hots for each other.

The cover did a good job of portraying that passion, but that was only a small glimpse into their lives. Their passion was much deeper than a kiss. It was an "I will do anything to save her life" kind of love. It's a married love.


Vinspire has a history of working with Christian authors. I'm a Christian author. A good fit. I felt Vinspire was visionary for seeing El Tiburon as a romance.

That being said, I began to perceive the cover was not a good representation of the content. Readers who wanted a sultry romance were disappointed. My audience (men and women who like a good suspense conspiracy story) was not interested in buying the book based on the cover. I even had several reviewers comment on the cover.

One of the things I found surprising about El Tiburon was the story was different to me than what the book cover gave me the impression of. I ended up with a well paced thriller, squarely focused on the mission and not a man-saves-woman-and-then-sex or that chauvinistic vein of thriller.~Ronovan

First thing, DON'T LET THE COVER FOOL YOU. This is not a macho man saves beautiful woman thing. That's a husband and wife on the cover. This book DESERVES a worthy cover that tells the story better.


You'd think it would be an easy process, but it's not. Dawn Carrington sent me several options of different models and backdrops, but none were an improvement. The male always looked either to polished or to rough... poor Dawn. She persevered, and finally we decided on no models.

So, I say goodbye to my first book cover designed by
a publisher (I designed Counterpart's cover), and say hello to the new one.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

H. Schussman interviews Jean Marie Bauhaus


Paranormal Fantasy Author and
Freelance Writer/Editor for Hire


Heidi:
First, Jean, tell us a little about yourself.
Jean:
I’m a writer and blogger from Tulsa, Oklahoma. When I’m not writing novels or blogging about my faith, I work as a freelance web content writer and occasionally I provide editing and book formatting services for indie authors. I’m a big ol’ geek who’s really into crafting, reading, really good TV and Netflix dramas, simple living, home decorating and my husband. I’m also quite fond of our little menagerie of four-legged dependents.

Heidi:
What genre do you write?
Jean:
The series I’m currently working on is clean paranormal romance, but I’ve also written urban and dystopian fantasy and occasionally dabble in horror and steampunk. (I had to google this term… steampunk is literature set in the era of steam powered engines, usually with a twist of sci-fi)

Heidi:
When did you start writing?
Jean:
I wrote my first short story in first grade. I think the protagonist was a talking football who didn’t like getting kicked around. I was a weird kid.

Heidi:
What are you working on now?
Jean:
I just finished Kindred Spirits, the sequel to my debut novel, Restless Spirits. Right now I’m taking a very short break before I get started on the next book in that series.

Heidi:
Who is your favorite character in your stories?
Jean:
That’s tough. It’s kind of like being asked to name your favorite child. I have a lot of fun writing Ron Wilson, the main protagonist in Restless Spirits, but really all of those characters are a joy to write. Outside of that series, I’d say my favorite is Alek Constantine from Dominion of the Damned.

Heidi:
Do you see yourself in any of your characters?
Jean:
Not really, although the Wilson sisters both share my sense of humor.

Heidi:
Where do you write? Describe your workspace?
Jean:
I don’t have a dedicated work space. I’ve tried that, but it turns out I hate sitting at a desk. I either use my laptop or a portable word processor called an AlphaSmart to write, so I tend to move around whenever I need a change of scenery to inspire me. Usually I’m either on the living room sofa or camped out in bed, but if the weather’s nice I’ll take it outside.


Heidi:
Do you have any new books out?
Jean:
As a matter of fact, my publisher just released Love Letter, a stand-alone novella set in the Restless Spirits universe. It's available wherever e-books are sold.

Heidi:
Who is/are your all-time favorite author/s?
Jean:
I’m terrible at picking favorites. This could be a long list. Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George R. R. Martin, Joss Whedon (he writes comics sometimes, so I guess he counts as an author), Lani Diane Rich, Jim Butcher, Cherie Priest, C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkein . . . I think all of these authors have really helped to influence and shape my writing over the years.

Heidi:
Did you find writing a query letter a challenge? If so, how did you overcome it? Do you think there was a key phrase or idea in your query letter?
Jean:
I’ve actually never written a query for fiction. I’m intimidated so much by the process that this is one of the reasons I decided to self-publish. I’m just really fortunate that it worked out the way it did.

Heidi:
What advice do you have for a writer aspiring to be published?
Jean:
If you’re looking to be traditionally published, my best advice is probably don’t do it the way I did it, which was to self-publish and then have my book get discovered years later by a traditional publisher who offered me a multi-book contract. That just doesn’t typically happen. If traditional publishing is your goal, I’d stick to querying agents and submitting your work to publishers.

But if you want to self-publish, my advice is this: do the work and invest the time and money to produce a book that’s as professional-quality as possible. Don’t rush to get a sub-standard book out there. It’s so, SO hard to get noticed, but it will be easier if you do good work -- not just good writing, but good writing that’s well-edited, professionally formatted and has a really great cover. When you self-publish you’re not just a writer--you’re also your own publishing company. So treat your book the way you’d want a traditional publishing company to treat it.

Heidi:
Would you like to acknowledge someone for their faith in you?
Jean:
I’d really like to thank Dawn Carrington at Vinspire Publishing for reading Restless Spirits and deciding it was something she wanted to take a chance on. There wouldn’t be a series if not for her decision to e-mail me and ask if I was interested in continuing the story.

Jean’s social media links are all listed here, including her Christian lifestyle blog, Daydream Believer, which is at http://jmbauhaus.wordpress.com.

Website:    jeanmariebauhaus.com
Instagram:  @jmbauhaus
Twitter:  @jmbauhaus



Sunday, January 29, 2017

H. Schussman interviews Pamela Woods-Jackson

Pamela Woods-Jackson Interview, 2017

Heidi:
Pamela, it’s been a couple of years since my readers have heard from you. Tell us a little about what you’ve been doing since March 2015? 
Pamela:
Since we last spoke, I moved to Noblesville, Indiana, just north of Indianapolis, in order to be closer to my children and my part time job. However I’m originally from Oklahoma City and have a Bachelors degree in English/Education from the University of Oklahoma.

Heidi:
What genre do you write? Has it changed over the years?
Pamela:
I mostly write Young Adult, although I had one contemporary romance come out
In 2015, Certainly Sensible, but it’s definitely of the sweeter variety. I also have a New Adult novel coming out this spring, Teenage Psychic on Campus. It’s a sequel to my very first YA novel Confessions of a Teenage Psychic. My Heroine Caryn Alderson, has been aged up to an 18 year old college freshman.

Heidi:
What inspires you to write novels with the psychic twist? When did you start writing?
Pamela:
I've written my whole life, but I started writing novels in 2007. A situation involving one of my students inspired the story of Confessions of a Teenage Psychic. I have always loved Caryn, but I wearied of writing about high school students. I wanted to pursue Caryn’s story and see how she had matured since last we saw her.

Heidi:
I see Teenage Psychic on Campus is coming out soon. Is this a sequel to Confessions of a Teenage Psychic?
Pamela:
Yes. She is now an 18 year old college freshman majoring in journalism. I brought forward her friend Annabeth from the previous novel, but I found her a new boyfriend, Gary Riddell. I realized her first boyfriend didn’t really understand her. I wanted a character that both challenged her and “got” her.

Heidi: 
What are you working on now?
Pamela:
I have a completed YA with a working title of Emma With Something Extra. My POV character is named Emma Austin, she makes matches among her high school friends, and she has a special ability that helps her out. I’m also working on a contemporary romance about two star-crossed lovers who have tried to be together through the centuries. Think “Romeo and Juliet” moving through many lives together.

Heidi:
Has who you consider to be your favorite character in your stories changed since 2015?
Pamela:
I have to admit that my favorite character is Caryn Alderson, my teenage psychic. Second favorite is Synthia Whitfield, my nineteenth century journal writer in Genius Summer. That story was based on a true story, and Synthia is (was) a very spunky, determined 15 year old.

Heidi:
Do you see yourself in any of your characters? Does one particular character reoccur in your stories?
Pamela:
I see my former students in many of my characters, but the only one I see in myself is Susan Benedict from Certainly Sensible. Susan is a high school English teacher like me.

Heidi:
Where do you write? Describe your workspace? 
Pamela:
Since I moved in 2015, I now have an entire bedroom that is a dedicated office space.

Heidi:
Who is your all-time favorite author?
Pamela:
Hands down, it’s Jane Austen.

Heidi:
Did you find writing a query letter a challenge? If so, how did you overcome it? Do you think there was a key phrase or idea in your query letter?
Pamela:
Query letters are tough, but I try to tailor them to the person/publisher I'm sending it to. Adding a personal touch (oh I see that you also majored in English/love Jane Austen/live in Indiana, etc.) is also a good way to connect with the recipient.
I rely heavily on the annual Writer’s Market that’s available at any library. It’s filled with lots of resources for both new and aspiring writers.

Heidi:
What advice do you have for a writer aspiring to be published?
Pamela:
Butt in chair! Otherwise I’d say just be patient. Don’t be in such a hurry to send your manuscript out into the world until you are sure it’s ready. Join a writers’ group or find beta readers. Your mother or spouse probably won’t be objective enough.

Heidi:
Agent or no agent? Do you think a writer should go directly to the publisher or go with an agent?
Pamela:
I would dearly love an agent, but apparently they aren’t lining up to represent me, based on the rejections I’ve gotten. I wish I knew the secret of signing with one. Any suggestions? :)

Heidi:
Would you like to acknowledge someone for their help/assistance/faith in you?
Pamela:
I’ve been working with editor Kinan Werdski at The Wild Rose Press for a while now. She provided invaluable assistance with the rewrites of Certainly Sensible, as well as great editing on Teenage Psychic on Campus. I'd also like to thank family friend Lee Wilson (author of "Rebel on Pointe") for being my advanced reader, and my brother Robert Woods for his encouragement.

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