Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Writing, Reading & Ireland with Janet W. Ferguson

Welcome back, readers! I am thrilled to have Janet Ferguson with us this week. Her novella, Falling for Grace, was a finalist for the Christy Award last year, and she writes some moving, heart-felt southern fiction books. Her newest book, Star Rising, released earlier this month.

About the Author

Janet W. Ferguson is a Grace Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She 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 cat that allows them to share the space.

Connect with Janet: Twitter | Facebook | Bookbub | Goodreads | Pinterest | Amazon | Website



SW: Welcome, Janet. Can you share with us a little of what your writing journey has been?

JF: I had a story idea for about seven years, but never sat down to write it. In 2012, I lost both my parents and my mother-in-law within sixty days. It made me realize how fragile life is, so I sat down every night and wrote the story that would become Leaving Oxford. It released four years later in 2016. I had a lot to learn about writing fiction. I still do!



SW: I think we all have a lot to learn but reading books by other authors helps. What three books are at the top of your TBR pile?

JF: Oh wow! So many! I critique with Misty Beller, Sarah Monzon, Heidi Blakenship, and Jennifer Rodewald on a regular basis so I’m always engaged with their writing. I’m in a Christian fiction book club so I often read those books. But I did pick up Becoming Mrs. Lewis because of it being featured at the Christy’s and I’ve started it. I’m also wanting to read more from my Mississippi friends Pam Hillman and Patricia Bradley because we’ve started plotting stories together. Oh, and I love biblical fiction, so I recently started trying to read all of Mesu Andrews novels!



SW: I've read all of those authors and they are each wonderful. What does your writing space look like?

JF: Another hard question. I’m all over the map. From my bedroom to the living room to recently trying out coffee shops. No set thing, but I often sit on the bed with papers spread all over it and my laptop, ha!


  

SW: Who are your writing mentors and/or partners?

JF: Well, I guess I listed those earlier :)



SW: Just for fun (and you can include unpublished works here), which of your male characters would plan the best first date? Which of your heroines would you like to hang out with for a weekend?


JF: Good questions! I’d have to go with Jess McCoy from Leaving Oxford and Josh Bergeron from Magnolia Storms for the heroes. They are both strong but caring and trying to do the right thing and handsome!—also maybe a little less baggage than some of my other heroes, ha! I think Cassie from Going Up South would be a great influence on me. She’s so mature and organized. Rivers from The Art of Rivers would be fascinating because she’s so artsy and creative.





SW: Star Rising starts in St. Simons, GA but a large portion of it takes place in Ireland. As you have visited the country before, tell us what some of the highlights for you were (and whether or not they were included in this book).


JF: I loved looking out at the Blasket Islands. They’re sort round and weird looking. The towns were so quaint and old. I love castles and ruins that just give me the feeling of oozing in history. In Dublin, the Chester Beatty Library held all these ancient scrolls. As a former librarian, I love books of all forms!









SW: How can we pray for you?

JF: Thank you for offering! I would ask that I only write what God wants—for my eyes, ears, heart, and spirit to be open to the Lord. I want to be teachable. For my next story, I’m still trying to listen and absorb what I need to learn and how it folds into a fictional story. I always learn so much when I study His Word and listen. The novels often surprise me when I do that, and I find that I need the spiritual lesson more than anyone!

Thank you for taking some time with us this week, Janet! We're praying for blessings in your life and writing.

About Star Rising




Star Youngblood has always been a fighter–a necessity after her mother married a monster of a man. Now, she’s finally on the path to the stable life she’s always wanted. Her employer, Priscilla Kelly, is a sweet woman ravaged by rheumatoid arthritis, and Star will do anything to help her. Even if that means going toe to toe with Mrs. Kelly’s neglectful son.



After being betrayed on the mission field and devastated by the tragic death of his father, Paul Kelly gave up on God. He lives life on his own terms, biding his time as a corporate pilot until he can save enough money to begin his own flight school closer to home. His mother is all he has left, and he wants to be near her. He just didn’t expect her health to decline so quickly. When he discovers his mother has taken in a stray—a woman he’s not at all sure can be trusted—his protective instincts kick into high gear. Paul’s handled a lot of turbulence, but he’s never gone up against a force like Star.



As Paul and Star strive to protect his mother in their own ways, they soon find their hearts are at the greatest risk.


Purchase: Amazon | Goodreads

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Leanna Sain: A Grit Lit Suspense Interview

When I saw Leanna Sain's cover and read the blurb, I couldn't wait to bring her onto the Diamond Mine. Wow, just look at that stellar cover art of the book Hush. Let's see what she has to say about this great looking novel and her writer life.


Give one fact about you as an author that most people don’t know.
I try to get away for a week at a time, at least once a year, to a little one-room cabin in Maggie Valley, NC where I write like a crazy woman from the time I wake in the morning about 3:30-4:00, until I crash into bed at night. Writing that way only happens when I escape to that cabin. There are too many distractions when I’m at home.


Was there a scene you had to edit out that you really liked? Tell us about it.

Originally, Lacey’s character was able to do more than just dream murders before they happened. She was also telekinetic, able to make things happen. For instance, when she was four, the family dog got hold of her favorite teddy bear and destroyed it. She was able to repair it so it was better than normal.  My editor thought that was a bit too “speculative” for a suspense novel and suggested we leave that out. There were several scenes like that one that, unfortunately, got cut.

Being a writer is a busy life, isn’t it? I’m sure you’re working on something new to intrigue your readers. What’s in the works for you right now?

I almost have the sequel to Hush ready to send in to my editor. The working title is Hoax. (I’m staying with “h” words for titles.) Hoax picks up two months after Hush ends. And plot points for the third book (possibly named Harlequin?) keep trying to butt in as I’m trying to wrap things up. I have to keep pushing them out of the way. I have to finish one before I can allow the next one in my brain. Otherwise it’s a train wreck.

Do you ever base your characters off real people?

Leanna's Mother
Usually, if I base one of my characters on a real person I only use bits and pieces—nothing that they’d be able to really recognize as them, but it’s different with Hush. The character of Lacey’s mom is totally based on my mom. You see, I wrote Hush while we she was struggling through the final stages of Alzheimer’s. I needed a way to funnel out some of the negative stuff that comes from watching someone you love die and writing was the perfect way to do it. I decided to make Lacey’s mom have Alzheimer’s too, so we could travel the road together. So every time the reader reads anything about Eve Campbell, they’re reading exact things my mother either said or did. The process was very cathartic for me and it helped. I dedicated the book to Mama and decided to donate a portion of what I make in sales to Alzheimer’s research. It’s my hope that it will help them to find a cure a little quicker.

What is the quality you like the most about your heroine?

Let’s face it, “adulting” can sometimes be hard. But add in being primary caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s and the difficulty level increases exponentially. Life knocks Lacey for a loop, but she doesn’t let her keep her down. I like that about her.

Giveaway time!

Leanna is giving away an eBook of Hush. Enter by commenting below and adding your email address (It is never stored but only used to get ahold of the winner).

Blurb:


Lacey Campbell dreams murders before they happen.


As head chef for a chic restaurant and primary caregiver to a mother with Alzheimer’s, she doesn’t have time for the nightmare and at first she tries to deny it. But the next day, she discovers it's a disturbing reality. When she dreams the second heinous murder she knows it’s time to tell the police.

Detective Ford Jamison is called back to the little coastal town to help with the case and soon notices an alarming trend: the killer is using the lullaby as a “blueprint” to target women who resemble Lacey. This doesn’t slow the killings and now Lacey is afraid to fall asleep at night because the next face she sees in her dream might be her own.


As a hurricane churns ever closer to the little coastal town, danger and suspicion spin out of control. Time is running out. Can they stop the killer before the last verse of the lullaby?


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Website and blog: http://leannasain.com


Bio

Leanna Sain, earned her BA from the University of South Carolina before moving back to the NC mountains. She calls Miracle Hill Farm home, but she lives mostly in her imagination. Her Southern suspense or “GRIT-lit,” showcases her plot-driven method that successfully rolls elements of best-selling authors Mary Kay Andrews, Nicholas Sparks, and Jan Karon all together, making it her own. She loves leading discussion groups and book clubs. For more information or to contact her visit: www.LeannaSain.com


**Note: I wrote Hush while my mother was in the final stages of Alzheimer’s. To honor her, I’m donating a portion of book sales to Alzheimer’s research. Please help by getting a copy, spreading the word, and writing a book review