Monday, July 16, 2018

Candid Moments with CFRR author Sandra Ardoin

Thank you, Sandra, for providing a candid shot of yourself.

Today we welcome Author Sandra Ardoin to the blog! Grab a snack and pull up a comfy chair for today's chat!

About Christian Fiction Readers Retreat...

In what ways have you participated in CFRR?
SA: This will be my first opportunity to attend a reader retreat, but what could be better than discussing fiction with others who get as lost in a story as I do? The author panels should be fun too. I expect to leave having learned from more experienced authors and with connections to other avid readers like me.

Rachel: There really is no better way to describe it! 

What part of CFRR are you most excited about?
SA: I’ll be the one walking around with my jaw hanging at seeing and meeting oodles of people who love fiction so much they’ll take the time and expense to come to such an event. And I’ll have the chance to play fangirl when I meet some of my favorite authors.

Rachel: It's the best! Jen Turano left me speechless when I got to first meet her!

Are you a hugger?

SA: If a person is an enthusiastic hugger, I’ll participate, but I’m not big on hugging and am not particularly demonstrative. Go figure for one whose genre is romance, right?

Rachel: Well...there are loads of huggers at CFRR, so prepare yourself hehe!

Just for fun...

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

SA: That’s easy…Australia, especially Sydney. Several years ago, I wrote a novella set there and got hooked on the research. The only drawback is the plane ride. I’m not a frequent or avid flier.

Rachel: Long airplane rides are the pits...I have flown to South Africa 3 times..My recommendation...Books...and a neck pillow! Australia would be worth it!

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

SA: A zebra? I add the question mark because if you’d asked for any ol’ animal, I would have said a horse. Maybe a miniature horse—too small to be ridden yet treated like a family pet.

Rachel: Hahaha! I have seen miniature horses at the the petting zoo area!!!

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

SA: I think I’d work for a garden shop. Shh… Don’t tell the ones I visit, but I’m the one who picks off the dead foliage so the plants look more appealing and will find good homes.

Rachel: LOL...My house is known as plant hospice. Green thumbs, I have not!

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

SA: My romantic side says French, but my practical side says a Scottish brogue—not so heavy as to be incomprehensible, but enough to roll the “r”s.

Rachel: Oooooh! Either of these would be awesome!

About reading...

What's your favorite genre to read?

SA: I read various genres, but mostly historical and romantic suspense. Any story with mystery/danger/adventure goes to the top of my must-read list.

Rachel: Yes! I am getting more into the suspense reads and am loving them!

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

SA: I need quiet to sink into the story and feel as if I’m there with the characters and a part of their lives. If the TV is on or someone wants to talk to me, it takes me out of the story world, and I get cranky. No one wants to see me cranky, so I retreat to my bedroom and read—alone and thoroughly happy with my imaginary friends.

Rachel: This sounds like a grand plan to me!

How do you organize your books?
SA: I alphabetize books in the bookcase by author last name. The TBR books on my nightstand are stacked by order of receipt. Many of them I check out from the church library or are influencer copies, so I need to read them in a timely order. I haven’t figured out how to organize books on my Kindle. Any suggestions?

Rachel: I like it. I have my kindle books sorted by author. I tend to be OCD with my bookshelf...everything needs to be alphabetized lol!

How often do you pleasure-read?

SA: I slink off to my bedroom almost every night and read for about an hour before bedtime. A novel generally goes wherever I go. I’ve been known to read while brushing my teeth or waiting for the light to change at an intersection. It’s why I prefer print books. They can be opened on a moment’s notice.

About writing...

How many books have you written?

SA: Written? If that includes the ones I keep hidden in a secret place, never to be found when I die, I’d say a dozen. So far, two have been traditionally published—A Reluctant Melody and The Yuletide Angel.

Rachel: I think all authors have those stories hehe! 

What genres do you write?

SA: I write historical romance, though I’ve dabbled with contemporary stories. My favorite time period is the second half of the nineteenth century. While I’m not so naΓ―ve as to believe people sinned any less than we do today, we do perceive that time as a simpler lifestyle with clear standards of right and wrong manners and behavior. At the same time, there was so much growth and invention going on. I enjoy creating strong women who take on unusual roles.

Rachel: YES! This is one of my favorite eras! 

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

SA: I recently finished a contemporary romance and am working on other ideas while the Lord and I discuss what is next for me from a publishing standpoint. That might be seeking another traditional contract or indie publishing a novella I’ve written. I’d like to do both.

Rachel: YAY! Sounds exciting! 

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?
SA: Hmm… I’ve never stood on my head to write, but if it works, I’ll give it a go. I do find the shower to be a tremendous place for working out problems I’m having with my story. Otherwise, I’m in my office and at my desk five days a week, typing sentences between sips of coffee.

Rachel: Coffee is a MUST!!!!

What are your must-have writing supplies?
SA: My morning coffee is a definite “must have.” Have I said that already? I also need my laptop (of course), a calendar (two, actually), and a door on my office.

Rachel: Haha! Coffee and a door....yes please! 

About the author...
Sandra Ardoin engages readers with page-turning stories of love and faith. She’s the author of the heartwarming novella, The Yuletide Angeland the award-winning novel, A Reluctant Melody. Rarely out of reach of a book, she's also an armchair sports enthusiast, country music listener, and seldom says no to eating out. Visit her at www.sandraardoin.comSubscribe to receive updates and specials. Connect with her on FacebookTwitterGoodreadsPinterest, and BookBub.

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

Monday, July 9, 2018

Candid Moments with CFRR author Lindsay Harrel

Yum, is that from Chick-fil-A?! Thanks for the great candid, Lindsay! 

About Christian Fiction Readers Retreat...

In what ways have you participated in CFRR?

LH: I have only envied from afar. πŸ™‚ But I’m happy to be attending as an author in 2019!

Lindsey & son
Beth: Yay! That makes us happy, too!

What part of CFRR are you most excited about?

LH: I am so excited to meet up with friends and connect with readers—both those who have read my books and those who haven’t.

Beth: Readers are pretty cool people, in my opinion!

Are you a hugger?

LH: Most definitely!

Beth: Great answer!

Just for fun...

What secret talents do you have?

LH: I can do this really strange thing with my lips, where I can crease them in the middle. It’s super weird. 😜 I’m not sure how much of a talent that is, though.

Beth: Well, that's... interesting. 😊

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

LH: Italy, for sure!

Beth: That is one of my favorite destinations from your book!

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

LH: I always wanted to be on Broadway. I’m a singer and absolutely adore musical theater. However, I’m blessed to be writing because I get to also stay home with my two little boys (a 3yo and 1yo). That would be kind of difficult living the theater life. 

Beth: Jazz hands! That's about the extent of my Broadway talent from high school dinner theater. Also, your boys are adorable! 😍

About reading...

What is your favorite genre to read?

LH: I really love almost all genres, especially within Christian fiction, but the ones that tend to suck me in and make me stay up until 3 a.m. reading are YA dystopian/fantasy and romantic suspense.

Beth: Suspense especially has a tendency to keep readers up late!

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

LH: I try to seek a quiet retreat, which means I can’t read when my children are awake! LOL. But I will block out the world if necessary.

Beth: I hear ya, mama! I have four so blocking out the world is a necessity!

Why do you think reading Christian Fiction is so important?

LH: Honestly, there are a lot of good books out there. Great ones, even. But a lot of those don’t leave the reader with a feeling of hope—or if it does, it’s false hope, hope in things that aren’t permanent or real. I love that Christian fiction shows us how to live out life with God and rely on Him and that we can apply those truths to our own lives.

Beth: Amen to that!

About writing...

How many books have you written? Published?

LH: I have written five: two are currently published, one will be published in February 2019, one is a book I might dust off and revise someday, and one is The Book That Must Not Be Named. πŸ˜‰

Beth: You're off to a great start! 

What genres do you write?

LH: My books are romantic women’s fiction. 

Beth: I'm not normally a fan of women's fiction but I enjoyed your latest book very much!

What are you working on now? What is your next release?
LH: I’m about to dive into edits for The Secrets of Paper and Ink, which will release in February 2019. It’s about a broken woman who travels from America to Cornwall, England—the setting of her favorite author’s novels—to find the courage to write her own story.

Beth: This cover blows my mind... a book cover on a book cover?! I love traveling through your stories!

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

LH: Writing the initial draft is often hardest for me. Staring at a blank page can be intimidating. But I remind myself that I can always edit it later. Editing is my happy place. 

Beth: I can relate (on a much smaller scale), getting the words going is the hard part!

What are your must-have writing supplies?

LH: I really just need my laptop, a pen and a notebook to jot ideas as I draft a scene, and some water or iced tea. Oh yeah, and QUIET! I usually write during my kids’ naptime for this reason.

Beth: Oh, I adore quiet! Quiet is so underappreciated! Naptime and after bedtime are productive times around here too!

About the author...

Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd who lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. She’s held a variety of writing and editing jobs over the years, and now juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with writing novels.

When she’s not writing or chasing after her children, Lindsay enjoys making a fool of herself at Zumba, curling up with anything by Jane Austen, and savoring sour candy one piece at a time. Connect with her on her website and social media!

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

Monday, July 2, 2018

Candid Moments with CFRR author Mesu Andrews

(Candid photo: October 2017 with my cute li’l,
power-house-of-a-mama, who prayed
me into the Kingdom.)
About Christian Fiction Readers Retreat...

In what ways have you participated in CFRR? (which years? author, reader, speaker? include plans for 2019)

MA: I participated in the first CFRR in Nashville (I think 2016?) and LOVED it. It was attached to the ACFW conference, and I think at the time the CFRR leadership thought it might be a nice little event with a few dozen folks and a couple of authors—and it just exploded! I only knew about 1/3 of the authors there, so it was great fun to meet them and make lasting friendships, but it was also great to meet so many of the folks I’d been corresponding with online for YEARS! What an incredible blessing!

What is your favorite aspect of CFRR?

MA: My favorite aspect of CFRR/fav memory/and most anticipated part for 2019 is all the same! While standing around chatting with readers at the 2016 event, I found many who had no idea who I was. It was A.W.E.S.O.M.E! By the end of the day, we were laughing and teasing each other. I see their faces in my mind when I read their names on my blog or FB comments now. Some of them had never picked up a biblical fiction novel until we met, but now they love the genre. CFRR is a fantastic opportunity to step outside our small worlds and get to know our extended family in the Body of Christ. What a treasure they are!

Are you a hugger?

MA: Absolutely! Big, tight, double-armed ones!

Just for fun...

If you were a superhero, what would your name be? What costume would you wear?

MA: Captain Grammy – hiking boots, reading glasses, and a tool belt (complete with fruit snacks, snack bars, water bottles, and duct tape—who doesn’t need duct tape?)

What secret talents do you have?

MA: I make stinkin’ good homemade caramels.

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

MA: Cape Town, South Africa

What is something you want to accomplish before you die?

MA: Go back to Israel—and I’d love to see Petra (in Jordan)

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

MA: Instead of Double-O-7, I’d be Double-O-No because I’m always messing up, forgetting, spilling, saying the wrong thing…Ugh.

About reading...

What's your favorite genre to read? 

MA: Same thing I write—biblical fiction. ;)
When reading, do you block out the world around you or seek a quiet retreat?

MA: Gotta have quiet or ear-buds with instrumental worship.

Describe your favorite reading spot.

MA: My back porch swing

How do you organize your books?

MA: Are you supposed to organize books?

Why do you think reading Christian Fiction is so important?

MA: If Christians don’t read BIBLICAL FICTION in particular, then the general market publishes it—and they do awful things with the stories in God’s Word. It’s VITAL that biblical fiction is READ and WRITTEN by those who believe it to be absolute Truth.

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

MA: Written 9, published 9.
What genres do you write?

MA: Only biblical fiction
What are you working on now? What is your next release?

MA: August 2018, I’ll release my first novella, By the Waters of Babylon, about the fall of Jerusalem. It introduces King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian exile through the eyes of a woman whose husband was a harp maker, exiled eleven years earlier. February 2019, Of Fire and Lions comes out—the story of Daniel. Very exciting! The sequel to Isaiah’s Daughter (title as yet undetermined) releases in February 2020.
(choose 2-4)
What part of the publishing/writing process do you most struggle with? which aspect is most natural for you?

MA: Hate the first draft!! Love research. I used to say I could research and never write the story, but that’s not true anymore. I do love writing as well, but I like to edit something I’ve already written. That’s when I can add the spiritual aspects and prettier phrasing—after I’ve got the “word vomit” on the page.

What are your must-have writing supplies?

MA: Coffee. Coffee mug warmer. Protein bars. Smoothies. Pretzels. Powdered Sugar Donuts—when I’m really serious. Bible. Logos Bible software. Internet for emergency research. Research books. Scrivener software while writing the first draft. OneNote (where I keep all research notes, character sketches, and plotting ideas). Excel worksheet (plotline, historical timeline, characters’ ages at-a-glance, ongoing list of my quotes for memes, etc). I’ve never been low-maintenance.

Are you more comfortable working in solitude or among a crowd? 
MA: Solitude ALWAYS

About the author...
Mesu Andrews’ deep understanding of and love for God’s Word brings the biblical world alive through her bestselling novels. She and her husband, Roy, live in a log cabin snuggled into the beautiful Appalachian Mountains with their dog, Zeke. The Andrews’ have two married daughters and a small tribe of grandkids. Mesu loves movies, football, waterfalls, and travel.

Her first novel, Love Amid the Ashes (Revell, 2011, the story of Job) won the 2012 ECPA Book of the Year for a Debut Author. Love’s Sacred Song (Revell, 2012) relates the poetic Song of Solomon in story form, and Love in a Broken Vessel (Revell, 2013) sets the story of Hosea and Gomer in biblical Israel. The Shadow of Jezebel (Revell, 2014) displays God’s sovereignty over Jezebel’s daughter, Queen Athaliah. The Pharaoh’s Daughter(Waterbrook/Multnomah, 2015), unveils Moses’ early years and Miriam (Waterbrook/Multnomah, 2016) introduces Yahweh’s prophetess during the ten plagues and the Exodus. Isaiah’s Daughter (Waterbrook/Multnomah) introduces readers to the prophet Isaiah’s captivating daughter. To follow Yahweh’s progression toward the Messiah, By the Waters of Babylon (August 2018) continues the story of the prophets and kings through the exile, and Of Fire and Lions (Waterbrook/Multnomah 2019) tells Daniel’s compelling story.

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