Monday, June 25, 2018

Candid Moments with CFRR author Janet W. Ferguson

Janet, thanks for the great candid! It looks like you and the bird are both enjoying a lovely view!

About Christian Fiction Readers Retreat...

In what ways have you participated in CFRR?

JF: Ha! I didn’t really know about it the first year, but I saw all these fun pics from my friends and was like—I want to be there next time. Last year, I didn’t sign up quick enough and missed out again. 😞

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So this year, I waited literally by my computer all morning, ready to be the first author to sign up! Yay! I made it. I hope to help in any crazy ways (games, panels, skits, whatever) or serious ways (praying with or for participants) so that the experience is a great one for all involved. Just tell me what to do! 

Beth: I'm so glad you'll be joining us this time, Janet!

What part of CFRR are you most excited about?

JF: I am so excited about getting to meet readers, bloggers, and of course, other amazing authors. I was privileged to meet a number of readers last year at an event who I knew from blogs and Facebook groups, and it was just so fulfilling to see their smiling faces live—instead of in a tiny box on Facebook.

Beth:  Meeting internet friends in person is a wonderful experience!

Are you a hugger?

JF: I do hug. 😊 I didn’t come from a particularly huggie family, but I look forward to lots of hugs at CFRR!

Beth: Oh good! I'm not sure that I could have restrained myself if you had said no!

Just for fun...

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Where is one place you want to visit that you haven't been before?

JF: Ireland! And we plan to go this summer, so I’m super excited!

Beth: Oh, how wonderful!

If you could have any accents from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?

JF: Obviously Irish, but I love to hear Australian, New Zealand, and British accents. I’m from the South, and we talk a bit (or a lot) less formal, at times, and maybe slower. Their accents just sound so proper and attractive to me.

Beth: Great choices!

If you were a spy, what would your code name be?

JF: Probably Goofy or Planet-Janet. You’ll see why when you meet me 😊

Beth: Intriguing, hahaha!


About reading...

How do you organize your books?

JF: I am a former librarian, so tend to sort them (loosely) by the Dewey Decimal System, LOL! Can’t stop the habit.

Beth: Oh fun! Your shelves are lovely!

Why do you think reading Christian Fiction is so important?

JF: Many years ago, a friend insisted I read a Francine Rivers novel. When I did, I fell in love with Christian fiction and the power of story. I was so moved. Jesus taught with parables after all. Think of novels that have changed society’s views on issues: Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Jungle, To Kill a Mockingbird. And we can do that for the Lord!
A couple of quotes from my novel Blown Together, if you don’t mind.

“There is power in story. Stories change thinking, change lives. There is beauty in words. Words work their way into our hearts and nuzzle us up to greater heights. Words and stories inspire leaders, change societies, and spark revolutions. … You wield the power of story and the beauty of words. I ask you to continue to hone that gift to bless, inspire, and nurture. Transform lives for the better. Spark a revolution of love for the first Author.”

That is, and I pray always will, be why I write. To transform lives for the better—to spark a revolution of love for the first Author.

Beth: I completely agree! Keep writing, my friend!

About writing...

How many books have you written? Published?

JF: I have five contemporary Christian romances published so far. I have a novella coming out this fall in a group project. I’m writing a novel at the moment called The Art of Rivers which deals with the impact of addiction (hopeful for it to come out this year or early 2019) and plotting the next.

Always plotting...

Beth: Yay! 

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?

JF: Ha! Not on my head, but… I spread out a bunch of papers and research all over my bed after my husband leaves for work. I sit there with one of the cats (who are constantly fighting) and my laptop, then write.

Most people don’t realize how much research contemporary writers do on places, occupations, hobbies. I can’t imagine how hard it is for historical authors!

Beth: It's always nice to have our sweet companions nearby, isn't it!

What part of the publishing/writing process do you most struggle with? Which aspect is most natural for you?

JF: I hate editing and proofreading and editing and proofreading and editing. Did I mention I hate editing and proofreading?

I love creating characters. I love to figure out what makes them tick, to feel what they feel. Sometimes they make me cry when they hurt or say something really deep. Sometimes I giggle when I’m writing and they surprise me with a joke or something witty. I’m like where did that come from? My husband thinks it’s pretty weird, too, but I feel like that’s God creating with me. At least, I pray I’m right about that! 

Beth: Bleh, yeah, I'm not a fan of grammar rules and such although we readers do appreciate your hard work! ðŸ˜‰

Are you more comfortable working in solitude or among a crowd? 

JF: I have to be alone to write. Maybe some good music playing, but no TV. I get ideas and jot them down all the time, even in a group, but I am easily distracted, so to actually write part of a novel, I have to shut myself off somewhere. I have gone to the library to finish one, so that no one interrupts.

Beth: I need quiet, too! Thank you so much for hanging out with us today, Janet!

About the author...

Janet W. Ferguson grew up in Mississippi and received a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Mississippi. She has served as a children’s minister and a church youth volunteer. An avid reader, she worked as a librarian at a large public high school.

She writes humorous inspirational fiction for people with real lives and real problems. Janet and her husband have two grown children, one really smart dog, and a few cats that allow them to share the space.


Say "hi" to Janet in the comments and let's chat about some of the moments we've enjoyed with her and her stories!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

CFRR 2019 Readers' Challenge



Hello, Christian Fiction fans!

Are you excited for CFRR 2019?? Last year, we implemented an annual CFRR Challenge. For 2018, we had the CFRR Addicts. Well, this year, we're doing a Readers' Challenge! (scroll to end of post for full terms and conditions)

To enter challenge:

Read books written by our 2019 participating authors then submit a link to your review HERE! (Authors may also enter by reading and reviewing books written by other participating authors.) 

Winners:

One randomly chosen winner from ALL participants
AND
One guest of CFRR 2019 with the most entries
will each receive a surprise prize!



Terms & Conditions:

- Books must be written by a CFRR 2019 participating author (complete list here)
Please submit one entry per book (multiple books = multiple entries).
- Multiple entries of the same book by the same reader will be disqualified.
- Your review must be posted between January 1, 2018 and April 1, 2019.
- You may submit previously posted reviews as long as the reviews were first posted within the timeframe noted above.
- You must submit the direct link to a goodreads or retail review.
- Review links must be submitted via the Readers' Challenge form.
- Readers' Challenge open to ALL readers (CFRR registration or attendance is not required).
- Authors are also allowed to enter but may only submit reviews for books written by other participating authors (submitting a review of your own book is not allowed).
- At the end of the challenge period (1) participant will be randomly chosen out of ALL entries (even if you are not attending CFRR 2019) and (1) guest of CFRR 2019 with the most entries will each win a surprise prize.



Have fun and happy reading!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Candid Moments with CFRR author Tracey Lyons


Thank you for providing a fun candid photo, Tracey!

About Christian Fiction Readers Retreat...

In what ways have you participated in CFRR?

TL: I came in 2016 as an author and I participated in the crazy fun speed chat. In 2017 I sat on a panel and both years I participated in the book signing. I will be there with bells on in 2019, hopefully I’ll be participating in some way.

Rachel: Woohoo!!! I can't wait!!!

What is your favorite aspect of CFRR?

TL: I absolutely love the fellowship, both spiritual and chatting with readers and new to me authors. I think my favorite memory has to be of the first CFRR. The room was filled with an anticipation and excitement that I’ve never experienced at a reader/author event. The authors were excited to be there and the readers were thrilled to get to meet and spend a day with their favorite authors.

Rachel: YES! Nothing will beat that first year excitement!!


Are you a hugger?

TL: Yes, I am a hugger.

Rachel: YAY!!!



Just for fun...


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Where is one place you want to visit that you haven't been before?

TL: Since I recently discovered through DNA testing that I’m 31% Irish and English, I’d love to travel to Ireland.

Rachel: Oh that is so exciting!!!

If you didn't like writing books, what would you do for a living?

TL: I would own a small café.

Rachel: This sounds perfect!


About reading...

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What's your favorite genre to read?

TL: I love to read romantic suspense and small-town fiction.

Rachel: Oh I love it!


When reading, do you block out the world around you or seek a quiet retreat?

TL: I am very easily distracted, so I need to block out the world around me in my quiet, out of the way, home office.

Rachel: I feel ya! I would rather work at a coffee shop...to hide from my children haha!


About writing...

Goodreads
How many books have you written? 12 Published? 8

What genres do you write?

TL: Historical romance, Christian contemporary and historical romance.

Rachel: A woman of many talents! I like!


What are you working on now?

TL: I am working on my first Amish romance for Harlequin Love Inspired.

Rachel: That's exciting!

What is your next release?

TL: A Love For Lizzie, Nov. 2018

What part of the publishing/writing process do you most struggle with?

TL: I struggle with keeping my butt in the chair and staying focused.  

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Which aspect is most natural for you?

TL: Plotting and picking the settings for my books.

Why do you think writing Christian Fiction is so important?

TL: I think now, more than ever, Christian Fiction is important. We seem to be at odds with one another and I think CF helps to remind us of what is important in the world and in our lives.

Are you more comfortable working in solitude or among a crowd?

TL: I need to work in solitude, usually with a cup of tea next to me, with quite calming music playing in the background.

About the author...
An Amazon Top Ten bestselling historical romance author of the Adirondack Pinkertons and the Women of Surprise series, Tracey was a 2017 National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award finalist. She sold her first book on 9/9/99! Her books have been translated into several languages and are available in print, digital and audio formats. A true upstate New Yorker, Tracey believes you should write what you know.  Tracey considers herself a small- town gal who writes small town romances. Her next release, A Love for Lizzie, Harlequin Love Inspired will be out in 2019.



Say "hi" to Tracey in the comments and let's chat about some of the moments we've enjoyed with her and her stories!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Candid Moments with CFRR author Stephenia H. McGee

Stephenia, thank you for sharing this great pic from your latest writing retreat!

About Christian Fiction Readers Retreat...

In what ways have you participated in CFRR?

SM: CFRR 2018 was my first event where I participated as an author. I plan on doing as much as I can in 2019! It was so much fun last year. 

Beth: I look forward to seeing you (and your hoop skirt) again!

What part of CFRR are you most excited about?

SM: I’m most excited about chatting with bloggers, readers, and other authors. I loved talking to everyone last year. And honestly, I am totally looking forward to wearing one of my hoop skirts again!

Beth: Yes! The fellowship is so sweet!

Are you a hugger?

SM: Normally, no. But when it comes to readers…yes! Readers are the other half of the story process. When I meet a reader who loved my story and lived it with me, well, we are already old friends who had an adventure together. And old friends always get a hug!

Beth: Books make friends extra special!


Just for fun...

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Where is one place you want to visit that you haven't been before?

SM: Ireland! I’d love to see the beauty of it and step foot into a real castle.

Beth: Excellent choice!

If you were an animal in a zoo, what would you be?

SM: I saw this t-shirt the other day that had a flamingo on it. It said, “Majestically Awkward” and I thought, “That’s me!” At least I’d like to think there’s something grand mixed in with all that awkwardness! So if I were a zoo animal, it would be a flamingo.

Beth: That is fabulous!

If you could have any accents from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?

SM: Scottish. I think I could listen to that all day. Second would be Australian. Both are awesome.

Beth: Agreed!

If you were a spy, what would your code name be?


SM: Mama Bear. Ha! That’s the one my little boys use when we play anything that requires a code name. 

Beth: Hehehehe! If the shoe fits...


About reading...

What's your favorite genre to read? 

SM: Historical fiction. That’s probably not surprising. What might be surprising is that I also love Fantasy. I think it’s the unique world-building I am fascinated with. 

Beth: I love historical! Fantasy blows my mind, I don't go there.

Describe your favorite reading spot.

SM: When it’s cold, this is my reading chair in my office... But if it’s warm enough, then I’m here…


Beth: I am envious times two! Those are great reading spots, Stephenia!

Why do you think reading Christian Fiction is so important?

SM: By size, and then by what I haven’t read yet. My husband’s books get mixed in with mine because they are similar sizes and I have a think about symmetry…


This is how I started organizing the new bookshelf hubby bought me for Christmas last year. 

Beth: What a gorgeous bookshelf! I admire your dedication to symmetry.


About writing...

How many books have you written? Published?

SM: I have completed eight novels and two novellas. Six of the novels are out now, one novella comes released May 25th, the next comes out in the Timeless Love Collection June 19th, and my newest novel will release in October. 

Beth: Yay!

What genres do you write?

SM: Historical Fiction and Historical Romance.

Beth: Love it!

What are you working on now? What is your next release?

SM: My next novel release will be a Civil War spy story titled Eternity Between Us (October) and I am currently writing Missing Mercy, Ironwood Plantation Saga book three. 

Beth: What a busy time!

What are your must-have writing supplies? (pen/paper, post-its, coffee, snacks, smartphone, facebook, etc.)

SM: Coffee, computer, notebook, and silence. This is my office, where I do most of my work unless it’s nice out, then I make it to the screen porch.

Beth: Your office is a lovely space!

Are you more comfortable working in solitude or among a crowd? 

SM: Solitude. I don’t write in coffee shops even though I think it is the “writerly” thing to do. I get too distracted! 

Beth: Yep, I need that alone time! Thank you so much for hanging out with us today, Stephenia!

About the author...

Winner of the 2012 RONE Best Inspirational Book of the year (2012) and author of six Historical novels, Stephenia H. McGee has a fascination with hoop skirts and ball gowns, Greek revival homes and horse-drawn carriages, quirky Southern sayings, and home-grown recipes.

She currently lives in Mississippi with her husband and two boys, (accompanied by their two spoiled dogs and mischievous cat) where she writes stories of faith, redemption, and stories steeped in the South.



Say "hi" to Stephenia in the comments and let's chat about some of the moments we've enjoyed with her and her stories!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Candid Moments with CFRR author Eva Marie Everson


Thank you for providing a fun candid photo!

About Christian Fiction Readers Retreat...

In what ways have you participated in CFRR?

EME: I’ve never been, but I’m beyond excited that I’ll get to be a part of 2019. As both an author and speaker, I’m hoping that the CFRR team will use me in any way they see fit … whatever works best for them … I’m excited!

Rachel: Oh, I think we can put you to work hehe! I am so excited to meet you!!!

What part of CFRR are you most excited about?

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EME: So often we writers are in a world of our own. We work alone. We go to writers retreats and conferences, which means that when we are with others, we are with other writers whose primary focus is not being readers. To me, the truly exciting part about CFRR is meeting readers. It’s always wonderful to receive fan mail, but to actually meet someone who loves your work, who you can ask questions such as “what did you think about this …” or “how did that affect you?” well … I can’t wait! (This is why I love going to book clubs!)

Rachel: Eeeeeep!!!! Can I go into fangirl mode????

Are you a hugger?


EME: I’m from the South. Of course, I am! 😊


Rachel: Ok good! We might have issues if you had said "No". Hehe!

Just for fun...

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What secret talents do you have?  

EME: HA! I can pick up things with my toes.

Rachel: NO WAY!!! Me too...hehe! It's a family trait here.

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven't been before?  

EME: Ireland and Scotland (and I’m going next year!)

Rachel: Oh man! Trying really, REALLY hard not to be jealous.

What is something you want to accomplish before you die?  

EME: Driving the 7-mile bridge off of Key West. (I live in Florida. You’d think I would have done this by now!)

Rachel: No excuses! Hahaha!

If you didn't like writing books, what would you do for a living?  

EME: Travel Photo Journalist.

Rachel: OK, that sounds fabulous!

If you could have any accents from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?  

EME: I kinda like my Southern accent, but I suppose the Irish would be next (being that I’m SO Irish genealogically).


Rachel: YEEEEES!!!! I tend to just pick up whatever accent is around me...it's an embarrasing trait.

About reading...

What's your favorite genre to read?   
Eva's Chair

EME:
Southern Fiction

Rachel: Why does that not surprise me?

When reading, do you block out the world around you or seek a quiet retreat?  

EME: I can do both, actually …

Rachel: It depends on WHAT is going on around me I think. Children screaming? Music playing? No problem...My best friend coming into the coffee shop? Not so much hehe!

Describe your favorite reading spot

EME: “My chair.” My back is to the water (although I know it’s there) and everything in the room is cozy and inviting.

Rachel: Oh I love it! I recently got a chair and it's my favorite place now!

How often do you pleasure-read?  

EME: Every day.

Rachel: Right answer!

Why do you think reading Christian Fiction is so important?  

EME: For several reasons:
1) Those of us who love words (and reading them) deserve to be able to do so without having to deal with genres we are not comfortable with.
2) Christian fiction is storytelling with a moral compass set to guide the reader toward something and Someone. Jesus used storytelling to draw all men to Him; we should be honored to know we are doing the same.

Rachel: Yes, yes, and yes!!!


About writing...
Goodreads
How many books have you written?  

EME: Somewhere between 35 and 40. (With the exception of one novel, I haven’t written anything (yet) that has gone unpublished.)

Rachel: Oh that's so exciting!!!!

What genres do you write?

EME: Primarily Southern fiction.

Rachel: Hehe!!!

What are you working on now? What is your next release?  


EME: A novel (working title), Dust. My next release is in Fall 2018: The Ornament Keeper (with New Hope), and my work Lillie Beth in Summer, which is part of a four-part anthology A Southern Season; Stories from a Front Porch Swing (with Firefly).

Rachel: Ahhhh! So many books!!!! YAY!

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?

EME: My house has to be clean. I cannot begin writing until I know that the laundry is going, the beds are made, the kitchen is tidied …

Rachel: I am similar with reading/blogging/etc. Sometimes I leave the dishes...only because I can't see them from my chair.

What part of the publishing/writing process do you most struggle with?

EME: Promotional “stuff.” I am, by nature, an introvert, so to “put myself out there,” isn’t easy.
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Rachel: I can relate.

Which aspect is most natural for you?  

EME: Writing and editing. I love the process of both.

Rachel: That is probably a good thing, given your profession hehe!

What are your must-have writing supplies? (pen/paper, post-its, coffee, snacks, smartphone, facebook, etc.)  

EME: Journals for note keeping. Pens! Pens! Pens! (My company is Pen In Hand, Inc.). I do like a cup of coffee nearby, but (sadly) I often throw half of what I make away because once I get involved in the story, I forget who I am and what I’m doing. I also work best with music playing, especially the music of the era I’m writing about.

Rachel: I feel a kindred spirit here...because I AM THE SAME WAY! Granted not with writing books, but working and blogging hehe!


About the author...

Eva Marie Everson is a best-selling, multiple award-winning author of both fiction and nonfiction. She is the president of Word Weavers International and the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference. She enjoys teaching and speaking at writers conferences across the US as well as coaching new writers via her company, Pen In Hand, Inc.



Say "hi" to Eva Marie Everson in the comments and let's chat about some of the moments we've enjoyed with her and her stories!