Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Author Interview: T. I. Lowe

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I met T. I. Lowe through the American Christian Fiction Writiers Contemporary/Women’s Fiction Facebook group and I’m so grateful that I did! Her book Goodbye and Second Chances is a fabulous read. Check out her website—T. I. Lowe. Here’s my short mini review from last week’s post. 


A Christian story starring a rock star might be unlikely unless it's Goodbye and Second Chances--an uncommon love story I know all of you will enjoy.

And that’s an understatement! Check out the Amazon blurb.

 

From bestselling author of Lulu's Cafe.

Some mistakes create accidental blessings.
Jillian (Jewels) Whitman lives with her mistakes and tries to move past the biggest one of her life - Dillon Bleu - Rocker and once best friend. 


After saying goodbye to the lakeside trailer park of his youth, Dillon sets out to make something of himself only to discover all he needs is his Jewel. After hitting it big in the music industry, Dillon heads back to ask for a second chance. 


Only... Nothing is ever as easy as it seems... 


A southern tale of rags to riches where a man's worth is ultimately found in his heart.


ZM—Tell us a bit about where your stories come from? Do you have specific types of stories that you prefer?

 
T.L.— I love sharing stories that bring to light many life obstacles my readers my face or can at least relate to on some level. Lulu’s Café explores domestic abuse and the lead female escaping it. Goodbyes and Second Chances takes a look at self-worth and how we tend to let the world dictate our place in society, which is completely bogus. As my lead Rock Star Dillon Bleu would say, your worth is not found in your wallet. It’s found in your heart. And my upcoming book, Coming Home Again, sheds light on a woman’s struggle to overcome rape. Yes, the subjects are deep, but I like to think I address them in a readable fashion.


As to what type of stories I prefer? Well, I’m a sucker for a happy ending! I’m not saying my own stories will always deliver this, but I sure do hope so!


ZM—Unlikely characters always rivet my attention and I love the complex nature of your characters. They grow and change as the story develops. Do you have any specific exercises that you use to get to know your people? Do they develop as you write, or do they come to you as complete people from the start?

 
T.I.— Lots and lots of daydreaming. I spend a lot of time pondering my characters’ backgrounds. I like to get to know them before I tell their story. As with any relationship, the characters develop even more as we go along with them revealing themselves more and more. 


A good example of this is one of the side characters in Goodbyes and Second Chances. This character bugged me to no end until I shared more of him with the readers. And that someone is none other than Maverick King. I got right attached to him and his story definitely needed to be shared.


But characters evolve a good bit as a story develops also. My main character in Coming Home Again talked me right into changing her name to Savannah and as I got to know her more, she was absolutely right. Savannah suits her much better.


ZM—What’s your writing and publishing journey been? How do you get your stories out to readers?

 
T.I.— This has been an unexpected journey. One I never thought would go any further than keeping a promise to my mom. She passed away September 2013, but not before she made me promise to share Lulu’s Café. I wrote this novel as my creative outlet while she and I set out to go to do battle with lung and brain cancer that in the end claimed her life. So after a few months of mourning, I set out to fulfill my promise to her and published through Createspace. Never did I imagine there would be people falling in love with this story, much less READING it! But Lulu’s Café has made an impact that can only be described as a God Wink. It’s all Him. When I receive an email from a woman thanking me for giving her courage to seek a safer, better life, I know I’ve done something!


And of course, I had no clue about the editing and proofreading aspect. I’ve learned a lot since and have found an awesome editor, Carole Cudnik. She’s helped me tremendously in the last few months with finding my way.


And my readers are the reason why I keep writing. They are fiercely loyal to me and have happily helped spread the word about my books. They are why both books are bestsellers.
God has blessed it all tremendously and it can only be him as to why this country girl has found an audience in the vast sea of books.


ZM—Tell us what you’re working on now. Any word on a new book?

 
T.I.— I’m so excited about my book series Coming Home Again. I have three books complete and ready for editing. There may even be a fourth. One certain character from the last book keeps insisting he has more to say so we’ll just have to wait and see. I’m hoping to publish the first book in May.


ZM—Many craft books stress that writers must read and read a lot. Who is your favorite author, or what is your favorite genre? What draws you to a book you read for enjoyment?

 
T.I.— I’m an avid reader. I am truly passionate about reading. I’d like to share a little saying I shared on my blog. 


I'm not a book snob or a person snob.


All books, just as all people deserve a chance.


Some seem to weave into your life, while others may not be a perfect fit.
Some may be but brief encounters. While others seem to grasp hold of you and become a permanent part of you.


No matter...
They all deserve a chance.


I do lean towards books that inspire me. One of my favorite authors is Charles Martin. I’ve read all of his books and they always leave me inspired. I feel like our writing is on the same page, so to speak.  And that is the importance of a strong faith in God. I like how God is all of his books, but he doesn’t beat the reader over the head with it. I try to do the same.


ZM—Finally, what questions do you wish interviewers would ask, but they never do? And, please, don’t forget to answer them. ;-)


T.I.— Don’t you think I’ve jabbered enough! ;-)
Let’s see… What do you hope will be your gain from this career? A legacy that I can be proud of. I want to show my two children, Nathan and Lydia, that their dreams are attainable, if they are willing to step out on faith and put in the hard work. And more importantly never take someone telling them NO when it comes to their goals. 
 
I also never want to be ashamed to share my books with my children. My teenage son has read three of them so far and I feel good about that. I think it will open his eyes to how harsh the world can be and my desire is that he sees he has to stand up and be a shining light for God as my lead male characters have done. 

T.I. Lowe is a southern belle that resides on a small farm hidden in the boonies near coastal South Carolina. Most days you can easily find T.I. in her kitchen, whipping up homemade treats for her babies and neighbors or glued to her computer keyboard. She enjoys drifting away in the fictitious world of the latest novel while bathing in the warm southern sunshine with a glass of iced tea in hand.

"I am running with patience the race set before me, looking unto Jesus, my author and finisher of my faith."

T.I. has just released her second novel, Goodbyes and Second Chances.
She is currently working on the Coming Home Again Series.



Next Week: I'll see if I can scare up a snip for you. ;-)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

January Mini Book Reviews: C. Asaro, B. Davis, W. Lamb, T. I. Lowe

It's a new year and you have to have books, right? ;-)


  UNDERCITY Catherine Asaro: Science Fiction

Undercity is a stirring addition to Asaro's Skolian Empire Series. The main character is an unlikely hero--Major Bhaajan--a PI with a voice you'll love.


 THE WISHING TIDE Barbara Davis: Women's Fiction

What's the best way to deal with a painful past? The Wishing Tide takes a look at this through three points-of-view. A must read!




 I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE Wally Lamb: Literary Fiction

I know this much is true--Wally Lamb is one of the best writers I've ever read and I Know This Much Is True is one of the best books I've ever read. This look at an identical twin of a paranoid schizophrenic is amazing. This is a must read if you like deep characters.

 GOODBYES AND SECOND CHANCES T. I. Lowe: Christian coming of age/romance 

A Christian story starring a rock star might be unlikely unless it's Goodbyes and Second Chances--an uncommon love story I know all of you would enjoy.

Next Week: I'll interview T. I. Lowe! Come and make her welcome in the Shade!


Mother's Day Update: I'm one chapter from being able to say that I'm done with the MS! You can start holding your breath now. ;-)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

January Writing Tip: What It Takes to Succeed as an Author

I hope you've gotten off to a good start on your Writing goals/resolutions this January. I'm whittling away at the few remaining chapters of my WIP. If all goes well, I'll have a completed MS to polish and submit to a couple of contests this year. 

And, by finishing, I'll achieve the first of many hurtles that line the path to publication. Did you know that: the oft-heard stat that only 5% of people who try to write a novel ever finish, has some basis in fact? Try Kristen Lamb's post, "What are the REAL Odds of Being a Successful Author" for confirmation.(Thanks to Kristen for inspiring this post!)



But, there's more to it than finishing. Kristen L. goes on to say that only 5% of those who finish will join a critique group and read craft books to learn how to make that MS better? 

And that only 5% of these will apply the things they learn to their MS.



And that only 5% of those who apply the things they learn and attend conferences where they get a request for pages will actually send them.

How many of these writers will land an agent right away? Yep, 5%.

And how many are willing to gut their novel to make it better? 5%.

What about self-publishing, you ask? Only 5% of them do the hard work of building a social media platform to promote their book and seek professional editing and apply it.

Kristen L. goes on to say that only 5% of those authors will keep writing more books until they click with readers and will seek professional editing to make them better.

After I read all of the stats, I had to take Kristen's advice to control what I can control when it comes to my stories to heart. I vow to:
  • Take the decision to write seriously (Check)
  • To write the book (Check)
  • To edit the book (Check)
  • To finish the book (Check)
  • To learn the craft (Check)
  • To accept critiques and learn from them without getting my feelings hurt (Check)
  • Network (working on it)
  • Follow through
  • Not give up after rejection
  • Write more and more books
  • Do everything I can to lay a foundation for success
And I vow to listen to good advice like Kristen's and remember that this isn't easy. None of this is easy. And I vow to stay the course, do the work, and write my books. Wish me luck!

 Next Week: The first Mini Book Review for 2015 will hit the Shade. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

January is the Perfect Time for a Bit of Goal Setting

"The greatest thing about writing is that it’s just you and the page. The most horrifying thing about writing is that it’s just you and the page. Contemplation of that dichotomy is enough to stop most people dead in their tracks."
MIND GAMES [Excerpt from THE CANNIBAL’S ART (not published; in progress). Copyright 2014 Diana Gabaldon]

Source


It's the time of year to make resolutions...What? Have you already broken yours? ;-) 

As writers, we all have to set goals if we're going to ever finish our stories. So, here's a few idea for you to try out for your writing resolutions for 2015. 
  • List all of your dreams for 2015 and then prioritize them.
  • Divide your dreams into monthly goals.
  • Select small manageable bits for weekly goals that add up to the monthly and yearly ones.
  • If you achieve the week's goal, there's no reason you can't dive into another the next week's goal. ;-)
  • Recognize the times that Real Life throws you a curve and don't beat yourself up. Remember the goals will be there when you are ready to dive back in.
  • Think about trying some writing prompts on the hard days when words are illusive. Charlotte Rains Dixon has a great new book of prompts with suggestions for how to use them.
And if your goal is the dreaded Query, look at these ideas:
Yes, that dreaded "Q" word that strikes terror in the heart of many a good writer. And I'm reaching the point that I need to get serious about it.

Julia Sondra Decker has some great tips.

Another suggestion is to try to write a query for the first twenty to fifty pages of your WIP. Check out agent Kristin Nelson's post on this technique for pitches. And her videos about finding the plot catalyst.

Also, try these questions:
  • Who is the MC?
  • What does the MC want?
  • What's in the MC's way?
  • What happens if the MC fails?
 What's your main goal for 2015 or for January 2015? I'd love to hear about it and cheer you on. If queries are in your near future, good luck and happy hunting!

Next week: What it takes to be in the five percent of writers who get published.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas!

In this week of Christmas, I thought I'd give you a poem.



Christmas Promise

Lit by a star’s glory,
The promise of Christmas
Starts with a baby’s cry.
Its light is the beginning
And with Easter’s dawn,
Arisen and triumphant,
The promise is complete.

~~Zan Marie Steadham
From A Christmas Walk
Copyright 2010


Have a blessed, safe, and happy Christmas! 

I'll be taking next week off! See you in the New Year!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Writer's Wish List

Like everyone else, I have a wish list. Actually there's two--a personal one and a writing one.

Source

My personal one might sound a bit grandiose, but then, what are wishes for but the amazing, far-reaching dreams.
  • World Peace--Yes, it's an old chestnut, but that doesn't make it any less true.
  • Understanding for All--It's a corollary to the first. In fact, it made be the method to achieve the first. For when we truly understand the reality of each other, we can find common ground and common steps for achieving peace.
  • Health and Well Being--Since I have some major chronic problems that get in the way of my writing, I'd love to solve them. Like I said in the intro, my wishes are a bit on the grandiose side and this one is no less hard to accomplish than the first two.
And now for the writing ones:
  • A finished semi-polished manuscript--I'm nearing this wish and can see the finish line. 
  • A query letter that shows my manuscript off to its best advantage--This is a bit of a wild wish. Queries are another type of writing that I'll have to learn from the ground up.
  • A series of synopses in varying lengths--Like the query, writing a synopsis is a new step for me, one that is necessary, but daunting. How would you like to tell you book-length story in one, two, three, or five-pages? Let's just say, I'm not looking forward to it. My first attempt showed me that I was trying to cobble two stories into one. What dangers lurk in the next attempt? 
  • An agent who gets my vision for MOTHER'S DAY, and sees the perfect market for it. I have to achieve the queries and synopses to get to this wish.
So, there you have it, my very own wish list. For some reason, I don't think Santa will be packing any of them on his sleigh.

What about you? Do you have a few wild and wonderful wishes? Care to share? ;-)

Next Week: A Merry Christmas Poem! 
  

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

December Tip Week--A Gift for Writers

Here you go! For the writer who has everything except the perfect adjective to describe someone's voice!

Once I saw this list, I realized I had been spinning my wheels trying to get the right word for my characters' voices. So, I'll unveil my character traits here:
  • Dean Talley--taut
  • Emmanuel Nunez--gravelly, gruff
  • Rosemary Talley--brittle, honeyed (yep, same voice!)
  • Samantha Smith--small, thin
I'm still thinking about about some of the others. 

Hey, it's fun to play with and, who knows, some of them might stick. Besides, it's only nine days till Christmas and this writer is ready to celebrate! 

Next Week: My Wish List! ;-)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

December Mini Book Reviews: J. Bourne, D. Gabaldon, M. Gable, K. Lynne

Yes, this is the first week of December, so I thought you might still need some excellent gift suggestions.

ROGUE SPY Joanna Bourne: Historical Romance

As is fitting for a multiple RITA winner, Joanna Bourne adds another wonderful book to the Spymaster Series. Pax and Cami are two the most well drawn characters you'll every meet. Add the intrigue of spying during the French Revolution, Napoleonic Era and Regency England and you have a setting that showcases them in all their glory.


THE FIERY CROSS Diana Gabaldon: Historical Fiction

In Diana Gabaldon's fifth Outlander Series book, she continues to weave history with fiction with her amazing skill. Her spellbinding story of Jamie, Claire and their family will keep you reading late into the night.


A PARIS APARTMENT Michelle Gable: Literary Women's Fiction

A Paris Apartment is compulsive page-turner that blends fiction with history. I promise the history was new to me. This is a wonderful read and the Goodreads Women's Fiction Book Club selection for December.

 NOR GOLD Kerry Lynne: Historical Fiction

Kerry Lynne as served up another rousing tale in her Pirate Captain: Chronicles of a Legend with Nor Gold. Once again Nathan Blackthorne, Cate McKenzie, and their pirate ship sails into trouble and revenge...and good, old fashioned love. Enjoy! Check out my interview with Kerry Lynne on March 12, 2013.


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Also check out Normandie Fischer's Sailing Out of Darkness, the November selection for the Women's Fiction Book Club at Goodreads.

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December is a busy, busy month and I've got book suggestions and a few different types of posts on tap for you. Be sure and take a break from the hustle and bustle of the season In the Shade of the Cherry Tree. ;-)