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Hmm … “Is this a duplicate post to the one Ashlee published not even two weeks ago?” you may well be asking. “Will she ever stop promoting her darned book and get back to writing fun and meaningful posts for a change?”
Well, I’ll admit, this is more or less a duplicate of the first post in which I notified everyone that The Word Changers eBook was going on sale for 99 cents. And here I am, reminding you again. This time, though, there’s just one more day until the promo period ends (August 22)!
Get your own copy at one of these sites:
This also means, of course, that you are still eligible for entering your name in the GIVEAWAY.
Entered already? Well, first of all let me tell you how much I appreciate your help in sharing about my book!! The Word Changers made it to #6 on the Amazon Christian Fantasy Bestsellers list last week – exciting, yeah?!! I don’t really think it would have made it to the list at all if you hadn’t helped me spread the word, and that’s the truth!
Second of all …. don’t forget that you can always enter your name into the giveaway again! Once a day, in fact.
And in case you forgot (hey, it was two weeks ago …), here are the two items I’m giving away to one lucky winner:
…. and here are the “share” pictures for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or wherever else you feel like spreading the word:
Oh, and to answer the second question above …. yes, I most certainly DO plan on writing some more fun posts in the near future! Any inspired suggestions?!
Have a great weekend, friends!
Today I’m interviewing the lovely authoress, Sarah Scheele. She is the author of Alyce, a charming fairy tale retelling. Join us as she talks about her faith, unexpected lessons, and the character she would choose to move in next door to her …
I notice that you write a combination of a few genres: historical, fantasy, science fiction … what draws you the most to these genres? Is there a genre you haven’t written in yet that you’d like to try?
With these genres I can emphasize characters. If I used a real setting, I would need to research—sometimes quite a bit—and it would distract from character creation. Fantasy was an obvious place to start, but I never felt quite natural handling magical props. So I switched into a historical-type setting that resembles southern Europe in the 18th century, but with some invented political situations. The science fiction stories are fewer, though they are actually my personal favorites.
I’m curious about the new field of early 20th century that has just opened up. (The “vintage” or “nostalgia” genre.) I’d love to explore that. Perhaps a twist of some kind, such as time-travel or an imaginary world, could give me an outlet into that era. We’ll see . . .
How does your faith factor into your writing process or your books themselves?
With a few exceptions, my characters are already firmly established in their faith. I explore their daily lives in a religious family or community—clearly Christian no matter how it is labeled in the fantasy story—rather than focusing on spiritual struggles or conversion experiences. I’m also interested in how lack of sincerity and charity can correlate to stunning rudeness and littleness, which is surprisingly an issue even in the most devout circles.
If you have to choose one of the characters from any of your books to move in next door to you, who would it be? Why?
Wow, that’s an interesting question! Probably Katia (and her brother Frank) from City of the Invaders. Katia is more like me, in some ways, than any character I’ve drawn so far, so I could really enjoy spending time with her.
Is there any book you’ve read that you wish you could have written yourself? Which one? Why?
Hmmm . . . The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer has an amazing gift for showing a huge diversity of people, very honestly, but also without being critical. Most authors (myself included) have a small cast of characters they use repeatedly. I don’t know if I could ever reach that level—outside of the real world God has created, almost no one has more diversity than Chaucer—but it’s something I admire.
What is an unexpected thing you’ve learned about yourself from writing?
I had thought that historical romance settings, even in juvenile fantasy, were too glamorous for me to attempt. But I’ve found the opposite is true. When I use historical costumes and situations, suddenly everything clicks into place. I’ve learned that I have been too afraid at times, assuming that things were out of my reach and belonged to other people. When I became more confident, I was surprised by the results.
If you could choose any writer, alive or dead, to have as a mentor, who would it be?
Probably two authors: Mary Stewart and Charles Dickens. Both have qualities I want to include in my work. Stewart is great at creating action plots that are glamorous, but still feel realistic, and Dickens had a rare ability to incorporate humor and social commentary without offending people. Learning to combine those two things would take my stories in a really good direction.
I was reading the blurb for your newest work, the novella Alyce, and it looks so amazing! Can you tell me a bit about how you were inspired to write the Cinderella story in this original way?
I was drawn years ago to retelling Cinderella because I wanted to explore what the fairy tale was really about. Cinderella is a young woman who is socially marginalized and vulnerable to selfish or unfair treatment on that account. As I developed Alyce as belonging to a tiny subculture, always at risk of negative treatment from outsiders, I was able to give my story the same theme while changing nearly every detail.
I found Alyce really resonated with readers, so I plan to continue with more fairy tales. Snow White, The Little Mermaid, Rapunzel, etc—always trying to see how many things I can change while maintaining what the story is about. These old legends provide a great framework for creating compelling situations.
I don’t officially title my story until I’m about a third of the way through. Once I know the story’s personality, I let a few titles materialize and try them out as little trailers. As in “The Castle of Randena, Coming May 2015.” I pick the one that sounds catchiest.
Do you have any interesting writer quirks? What are they?
I need to walk around while writing. This is obviously almost impossible, so I compromise—I write a bit, then get up and walk around to sort out the next scene, write it down, then bounce up again and start walking. It is essential for me to work alone because I probably look crazy. 😛
If you could get lost within a book, which book would you choose? Why?
I’m not sure I can get lost in a book these days! I view reading and writing in a job-oriented way—which isn’t very conducive to getting lost in the magic of words. But when I was younger, The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis was one of my favorites. I’m drawn to hot places as settings, and at that time almost everything I read was located in the British Isles, New England, or imaginary places that resembled them. The society of Calormen and the daring escape across the desert felt really fresh and they captured me.
Sarah Scheele writes historical fantasy stories and science fiction from her home in Texas. She is the author of The Valley Stories, set in a nonmagical fantasy world based on southern Europe, and the futuristic action/adventure novella City of the Invaders. Her blog Stardust and Gravel regularly showcases reviews and interviews for other authors, as well as the occasional comic skit.
Alyce Lomlossa has never dreamed of visiting King Timson. To a member of a minority group that opposes his rule, his brooding, glum palace is associated only with imprisonment and death. Though it’s been a long time since any Sherban was arrested, Alyce feels little in common with her ruler and is quite content to stay unnoticed.
Until a mandatory summons to the King’s court dance leaves her no choice.
A 20,000 word novella that enlarges the story of Cinderella.
Today I have the privilege of interviewing Heather Day Gilbert, author of God’s Daughter and Miranda Warning (releasing June 20, 2014). She’s got some interesting things to say about genre-switching, balancing writing with homeschooling, and even a bit about which one of her characters she’d choose as a friend in real-life 🙂
Be sure to scroll down after the interview and click on her social links so you can connect with Heather!
I know you are not only a mother but a homeschooler. What does a typical day look like for you? How do you find time to fit in writing?
I’m not an early-bird, since I often burn the midnight oil (I am answering this question at 12:43 am ;)). We usually get rolling on school around 9 or 9:30 am, doing all the reading and joint-subject things together. My kiddos are more independent at this stage, so I write their assignments down and they work on them throughout the day. I usually load up social media stuff sometime around lunch, unless I have a post or something I have to check in the morning.
I will say I haven’t been writing as much as editing and marketing for the past year and a half. I look forward to focusing on writing, once my mystery (Miranda Warning) releases June 20th. But realistically, I know I’ll probably spend the next six months post-release marketing that one.
How long have you been writing? Was becoming a writer a conscious decision, or did you grow into it gradually?
I’ve loved reading and writing since I was a child, and I started reading early. I think I had brief delusions of becoming the next Emily Dickinson during college. But I didn’t write my first novel until I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). This was after my three children were no longer toddlers and I was able to devote my nights to writing like a fiend. Once I realized I could complete a novel if I pushed myself, I caught the book-writing bug, for sure. I pursued traditional publication for about six years (with three different novels). I had three agents, as well. Suffice it to say, I’m glad the waiting is over and I’m now an independent publisher.
Your first book, God’s Daughter, is a historical viking novel. But Miranda Warning is quite different, being a modern mystery. Was there anything in particular that made you switch gears? What genres do you see yourself exploring more in future?
I wrote Miranda Warning when God’s Daughter was out on submission (over a year and a half), because a wise author advised me to go ahead and write something else. My first novel had been a contemporary paranormal (Speculative Fiction) book, and my readers loved it (posted the first 13 chapters on my blog). I wanted to get back to my contemporary “roots,” as it were. I’ve always loved mysteries and the idea of setting one in my home state of West Virginia was just too tempting. Not to mention, using married main characters, like the Tommy and Tuppence characters in Agatha Christie’s books. I wrote Miranda Warning and it just flowed.
As for the future, I will be writing the second (and final in the series) novel in the Vikings of the New World Saga next–Forest Child. After that, I hope to pursue more of my mysteries. I have quite a few in mind for the A Murder in the Mountains series–the next one will be titled Trial by Twelve.
I love reading mysteries, and the first chapters I’ve read of Miranda Warning are so intriguing! Yet I’ve always felt it must be complicated to write a mystery. Did you find it difficult? Do you use a different method for writing mystery than for other types of books?
Yes! I needed more structure. I’m a half-plotter, if you will. I like to know how many chapters I have and outline things by chapter. But the characters take over and fill in the rest. When I started writing Miranda Warning, I went into it thinking I knew whodunit. But the more I got into my characters’ heads, the more things unfolded to me differently. I don’t like predictable books, so I wanted this one to be unpredictable…but also very psychological, like Rebecca, where it’s heavily character-based.
What is your favorite book, and how has it affected your own writing?
Oh wow–tough question. Classics have really influenced me. I love flawed, conflicted main characters, like Scarlett O’Hara or Becky Sharp or Jude the Obscure. They might not do what I want them to, but that makes them more human to me and I can never forget them. I like to reflect real life and heartbreak with my characters, but also that never-ending struggle to do the right thing. But as for fave books…The Mill on the Floss and Far from the Madding Crowd are high on my list.
Of all the characters in your own books, who do you think you’d get along with best if he/she was a real person?
Oh–great question! I tend to really love my male characters (I think all female authors do!), especially the ones who have traits like my husband (I won’t tell you which dudes are like him, so as to protect the innocent!). But as for a female friend, I really like Stena in God’s Daughter, as well as Charlotte in Miranda Warning. I think Freydis and I would probably wind up getting into a fistfight (she’s in God’s Daughter and will be the main character in Forest Child).
What’s the most off-the-wall thing that has ever inspired you to write a book or story?
Real-life ghost stories…harking back to my first paranormal novel. But I will say I also have dreams about my books/characters, sometimes when I’m at a writing impasse. I think God sends me prompts…either that or my characters just won’t shut up!
What is God’s role in your writing and publishing process? Is there any particular instance you’d like to share about where you needed His guidance more than usual?
Oh, wow. Yes. God has always been a part of this dream. He’s the steerboard. (that might be a Viking term? The ship steering-board). I’ve done some things that have raised eyebrows, from changing agents while a book was on submission, to short-circuiting the waiting process on a submitted book and proceeding to self-publish it. I figure some authors watch me and think I’m crazy. But when God nudges, I do it. The hardest part of this journey was the waiting. I’d rather get 100 bad reviews than spend one more year waiting to get published. But at every turn, when God nudged, even lightly, I followed. I’d rather jump and have no visible net than stay in the wrong place too long.
When I decided to self-publish, that was big. But it was just another step of faith on this path. And now, in retrospect, I think God was pushing me this way all along. He knows I am a very independent and very driven author, who doesn’t like to be held up, and I don’t like conforming to trends. Sometimes I wish I could see more of the big picture, but I think if we just take each step in obedience, no matter how hard or crazy it seems, we will reap a lasting harvest.
Thanks for having me visit, Ashlee, and all the best with all your books!
It was an honor to have you, Heather! Blessings upon all your future writing endeavors!
Heather Day Gilbert enjoys writing stories about authentic, believable marriages. Seventeen years of marriage to her sweet Yankee husband have given her some perspective, as well as eleven years spent homeschooling. Heather regularly posts on Novel Rocket about self-publishing.
You can find Heather at her website, Heather Day Gilbert–Author, and at her Facebook Author Page, as well as Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Goodreads. Her Viking novel, God’s Daughter, is an Amazon bestseller. You can find it on Amazon and Audible.com. Her Appalachian mystery, Miranda Warning, releases June 20th.