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Writer Wednesday: Kimberly Miller

Kimberly Miller is our featured writer today. Even though we’ve not met face to face I feel like she’s become a great friend as we have so many things in common. I’m so happy to have here as a featured writer on my blog.

When did you decide that you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to…?

When I was in junior high school a friend said she wrote stories. In them, she’d put herself into situations with famous musicians and actors mostly. We wrote these stories for years and would read them to each other over the phone. I wrote all the time back then- nonstop! Then, in college when my first major fell through (athletic training… what was I thinking?!), I ran back to the safety and comfort of English and writing. I’ve been writing ever since.

What’s your pet peeve?

People who don’t put the shopping carts back in the ‘return’ areas in the parking lot. And people who text and drive.

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?

When I first ordered business cards and the lady on the phone asked if ‘freelance’ was one word or two. I had a brain-freeze and said two, and ended up with cards that said I was a ‘free lance writer’. UGH.

What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?

Just finding the time to write! I have a busy schedule with work (as a writing and film professor) and family, so it’s often true that I don’t write on a daily basis at all. But, in the summer, I try to make up for that.

How do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?

I see if there’s something I can learn from them… as in, is there any merit to the critique? Otherwise, I try to file them away and remember why I’m writing—for God’s glory, not mine.

What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?

First, it was getting an agent, and now it is the release at the end of August of my first novel.

What would be your top three pieces of advice to newer, up and coming authors?

Keep writing, continue to learn and sharpen your writing skills, and read a lot of different kinds of books, articles, and many authors.

As a Christian author, what would you like your legacy to be?

I enjoy keeping people entertained and making them laugh (or even cry when the mood/ tone of the book warrants it). I hope I’ve done this for my readers

What is your current work in process?

Currently, I’m editing a novel tentatively titled ‘Roundabout’. The piece is about a man who is trying to do right for his family but struggling with how to protect them, while still dealing with some difficult truths. It is a story about forgiveness and second chances.

Thanks for checking out Kimberly as she starts her new writing career! You can connect with her at these following links.

Links to social media:

Twitter @K_Miller_author

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Kimberly.Miller.Author/

Blog https://kimberlymmiller.wordpress.com/

Website-  http://millerkm.weebly.com/

 

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Interview with Dan and Skye from Bratwurst & Bridges

With my latest installment in the Orchard Hill Romance series: Bratwurst & Bridges, due to release on the 28th, I thought it’d be fun to interview my two main characters in the story: Pastor Dan Wink and Skye O’Connell.

Dan, what did you first think about Skye when you met her? 

Dan: I admit she was a puzzle to me – the hair, the clothes, and those silly, fuzzy pink boots? Didn’t help that her son ran and hid in my apartment.

Same question for you, Skye? 

Skye: I confess I  watched him through the peephole in my door as he moved in. I was impressed by how good he looked. Imagine my shock when I found out he was a pastor. Really? I guess I unconsciously absorbed that beauty, even more, when I met him face to face. I was a mess and my kids were acting up…not the best, fuzzy booted foot to put forward in meeting a man, even if I wasn’t looking for a relationship.

Dan: Even though she irritated me that day, I do admit I found her kind of cute.

Skye: Really?

Dan: (blushes and nods)

What made you take a step further in the relationship beyond strangers living across the hall? 

Skye: I guess having gone through my own share of hard times, my heart went out to him when I saw how sad he often was. And strange things started happening since I first met him.

Dan: She kept asking questions and when I realized that first of all she had a tender, caring heart, and was lost as far as faith goes, I figured God had moved me there to be a light in her darkness in spite of the stifling grief that weighed me down.

Skye: I didn’t make it easy. I kept asking pesky questions.

Dan: And she never hesitated to call me out on my own hypocrisy. I gotta admit her compliments took me by surprise too.

Skye: Why? Surely you realize just how gorgeous you are?

Dan: (shrugs) I didn’t grow into my looks until I was out of high school and before that I was bullied because of my unusual eyes. I met Sharon and we were an item. I guess it was easier to just think she told me those things because she loved me. And I found it hard to embrace my appearance given how often people discounted my ability to minister effectively because of it.

Skye: Well, it certainly didn’t hurt where I was concerned.

Dan: (chuckling). You mean given that you couldn’t stop painting pictures of me?

Skye: (blushing) Well, you were a good subject for my art.

Skye, you mentioned that strange things started happening after you met Dan?

Skye: Yeah. Weird things. My paintings changed. And he was so nice to me. I’d never met any one who did nice things without some kind of ulterior motive.

Dan: She had a difficult time believing that God loved her and that was reason enough for me to be nice to her and help her when I was able.

It was a long time before you went on a date. Why?

Skye: Dan had these rules…

Dan: Principles or boundaries might be better words.

Skye: Fine. Initially, he wouldn’t talk to me in my apartment or his. So we’d have conversations in the hallway, or at the YMCA or sometimes over coffee at the local coffee shop. Always in public. Initially, I thought it was because he didn’t trust me. I finally realized he was not only protecting his reputation but me as well. It didn’t understand it all at first, but now I’m grateful because I know I can trust him. He’s a man of integrity and that was something new for me to encounter.

Dan: Well, Titus is as well.

Skye: True, but I wasn’t interested in Titus.

Dan: (grins and bumps her shoulder with his) I’m grateful for that.

How do you feel about your story releasing? 

Skye: I really love the cover.

Dan: You would. Why couldn’t you have put her on the cover? Fuzzy pink boots and all

Skye: Would you leave my boots out of this? I like them. They are warm and comfortable.

Dan: I’ve grown to like your boots. (eyebrows wiggle).

Skye: Good, because I’m not giving them up. Besides, you’re hot. I have to share you with an entire congregation so you can be on a book cover. Me? I kind of prefer being in your shadow.

Dan: Fair enough. If it makes you happy.

What did you learn most from your journey? 

Dan: That grief was keeping me from embracing all that life still had to offer me. And that I can move on and love and laugh and that is not a betrayal of the love I had for Sharon.

Skye: I learned about God’s grace and Dan was definitely Jesus with skin on as the saying goes. I’m grateful that God gave me far more than I had ever dreamed of for me and my children. I never expected God would use a handsome neighbor to shake my unbelief and transform my art and my heart by the power of His Holy Spirit. I’m sure glad He did.

 

Thanks for joining us! I hope you enjoyed getting to know Dan and Skye a little better without spoilers for their story releasing in a few days! 

The Metaphor of Steel in Sofi’s Bridge (Blog Hop)

The main theme of Sofi’s Bridge is how people deal with grief and trauma. Can grief make us stronger, or cause us to collapse? Each major character brings their own struggle with grief to create this plot.

Neil: This Irish physician is wanted by the British police for the murder of a man who had previously caused the death of Neil’s father. Neil, still buckling under the guilt of losing control of his emotions on the night his father died, explains how many men deal with grief in this excerpt:

Neil wrapped an arm around Sofi’s shoulders. “From my observation, females tend to worry over their grief, keeping it to themselves. Not like men who battle against their trauma with exploits. Not always the right kind of exploits, mind you. Trying to force things. Make things right. Seeking revenge.” His brows pulled together, and his eyes grew bleak.

Sofi: When Sofi’s father drowns, she takes on the role of savior in her family. By suppressing her own grief, the toxins of Sofi’s sadness are building, and may cause her to collapse. Or perhaps, Sofi will learn in good time to express her grief, and with the Lord’s strength be there for her family in their time of need, and also in time to save the bridge she designed.

Sofi’s Sister: Trina personifies the well-documented syndrome of Post Traumatic Stress. After observing her father’s drowning, Trina becomes almost catatonic, and their Seattle physician wants to treat her at an asylum for the mentally unstable. Seeing this, Neil, who is pretending to be their gardener, cannot ignore his Hippocratic oath. Plus, his overwhelming personality trait to give aid, even while placing himself in danger, is the catalyst that propels Sofi and Neil to flee to the
Cascade Mountains with her sister Trina.

Sofi’s mother Roselle: Another favorite secondary character of mine, reacts to the grief of losing her husband by becoming addicted to physician-prescribed Laudanum.

The metaphor of steel: Throughout these character’s lives, in the center of the story, stands the bridge that Sofi designed, but which her father’s business partner has taken control of. But is the steel being used to build her bridge strong enough? Has the metal been fired long enough in the foundry to refine it so that it is strong enough to convey people to safety?

The steel in Sofi’s bridge is the metaphor for grief and trauma, asking the questions: Does God use our canyons of pain to refine us, make us strong enough for the labor of our heart that He places in our lives?

About Christine:

Irish-born Christine Lindsay is the author of multi-award-winning Christian fiction and non-fiction. Readers describe her writing as gritty yet tender, realistic yet larger than life, with historical detail that collides into the heart of psychological and relationship drama.<br />

Christine’s fictional novels have garnered the ACFW Genesis Award, The Grace Award, Canada’s The Word Guild Award, and was a finalist twice for Readers’ Favorite as well as 2nd place in RWA’s Faith Hope and Love contest.

This author’s non-fiction memoir Finding Sarah Finding Me is the true-life story that started this award-winning career in Christian fiction and non-fiction. This book is a must for anyone whose life has been touched by adoption. Christine is currently writing a new fictional series set on the majestic coast of Ireland and loaded with her use of setting as a character that will sweep the reader away. Subscribe to her newsletter on her website www.christinelindsay.org

About the Book:

Seattle Debutante Sofi Andersson will do everything in her power to protect her sister who is suffering from shock over their father’s death. Charles, the family busy-body, threatens to lock Trina in a sanatorium—a whitewashed term for an insane asylum—so Sofi will rescue her little sister, even if it means running away to the Cascade Mountains with only the new gardener Neil Macpherson to protect them.

But in a cabin high in the Cascades, Sofi begins to recognize that the handsome immigrant from Ireland harbors secrets of his own. Can she trust this man whose gentle manner brings such peace to her traumatized sister and such tumult to her own emotions? And can Nei, the gardener
continue to hide from Sofi that he is really Dr. Neil Galloway, a man wanted for murder by the British police? Only an act of faith and love will bridge the distance that separates lies from truth and safety.

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The Human Factor In Root Beer and Roadblocks

rootbeerandroadblocks_300The path to publishing isn’t always a smooth ride. Today Root Beer & Roadblocks finally released in ebook form. A new publisher has meant a learning curve for author and editors alike. (The print version should be available in another week).

This is not the first time I’ve had a book delayed and to be honest- the delay (or roadblock!) was at my request. I wanted extra eyes on the manuscript but that takes time. I’m grateful my publisher didn’t rush to get the book out on deadline only to find it filled with some mistakes.

Funny thing is – even with me going over this with a fine-tooth comb many times, as well as my editor, copyeditor, three proofreaders, and my publisher, none of us found the same things wrong. We all saw things differently. So there is a chance that you could pick up this book and find something wrong as well that all of us missed in spite of the multiple times it’s been evaluated.

But that’s the point, isn’t it? We’re human. Flawed. Even with software programs that can help find errors the human factor can still influence things. My hope is that if you choose to read Johnny’s story, you’ll get so caught up in the journey he takes that anything that crosses your path, will be immediately forgotten as you read on. I wanted to give you a sneak peek into the first pages of the book.

February 2014

          Johnny jogged to his car and grabbed his Bible. Fatigue weighed him down as he locked the sedan, the book tucked under his arm. Heading back toward the church, a movement caught his attention. A little boy from his Sunday school classroom escaped his mother’s grasp and bolted his way, blind to a car backing out of its spot.

       “David, stop!” Johnny bolted and managed to get behind the moving vehicle to shove the child out of the way. The rear bumper struck his own leg and knocked him to the ground.

         The car’s wheels stopped just short of running him over. Thank you, Lord, for big tank cars with huge trunks. The child cried, and a woman picked up the boy. “It’s OK, David, you’ve only scraped your palms. This nice man saved you. How many times must I tell you not to run in parking lots? You are too small for cars to see you.” She hugged the little boy tight.

             Johnny dragged his legs out from under the car and struggled to his feet, bracing himself against the trunk to catch his breath. The elderly woman, who had been behind the wheel, toddled around to him. “Are you OK? I’m sorry. I didn’t see him. You moved so fast.”

          Johnny nodded. “No one would have seen him. It was an accident.” He patted her on the shoulder before he limped across the parking lot. Pain seared through his hip and leg with every step he took. Reaching the curb, he sank down to the cement, thankful it was clear of snow.

           His cousin Niko ran out of the church and knelt by his side. “Johnny, what happened?”

          “He rescued my son from getting run over by a car that was backing out. He took the hit.” A woman wearing a stocking cap and winter coat came up behind Niko with the weepy boy in her arms rubbing his eyes.

              Johnny shrugged. “What she said.”

             “You OK? Do we need to call an ambulance?‛ Niko’s gaze bore into him. The greater unspoken question loomed.

              Teeth gritted in pain, Johnny returned his cousin’s stare. “I want to sit through worship. You’re on stage in a few minutes. Help me inside. I have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow. It can wait until then.” He motioned for Niko to help him rise, and he did. The older woman came up to him and handed him a piece of paper.

                 “Here is my name, phone, and insurance information. Do you want to call the police and file a report? I wouldn’t blame you if you did.” Her arthritic, wrinkled hands were clenched tightly together as if in petition for mercy.

                “I doubt that’s necessary. Thank you, May.” He took the paper and shoved it in his shirt pocket. David’s mom passed him his Bible, which he’d dropped. The leather was brushed clean.

“Are you sure you’re OK? I’m a nurse. I could take a look.” Her face instantly turned three shades of red as she realized her inspection would involve him taking off his jeans.

               Johnny smiled and leaned forward. “In my younger days, that would have been an offer too good to pass up, but I visit my doctor tomorrow. It’ll wait.”

 

Here’s a video – instrumental of Burlap to Cashmere’s song “Dialing God.” The guy on the right is the real-life Johnny that I based this character on. Enjoy!

 

Interview with Nikolos Acton from Feta & Freeways

uomoI’m excited. Feta & Freeways was the third book in my Orchard Hill Romance series but in a couple of weeks Root Beer & Roadblocks releases. I figured it would be nice for you to get to know my leading man, Nikolos Acton. He leads vocals and plays acoustic guitar for a band called Specific Gravity. Welcome, Niko!

Niko: Thanks for having me. I thought this was going to be an interview with the full band?

Susan: I decided to interview you alone.

FetaandFreewaysCover copyNiko: Alone. Hard to be that way traveling around the country with a bunch of guys.

Susan: Guys?

Niko: Oh, and Tia, she’s our manager.

Door opens. Johnny Marshall, Niko’s cousin Johnny peeks in.

Johnny: What’s  going on?

Susan: I’m interviewing Niko about the book Feta & Freeways .

Johnny: I really liked that story.

Niko: Only because you got me into trouble with Tia.

Johnny: You deserved it, being so blind to her all those years.

Niko: I will get you back.

Johnny: (laughing) I’m sure you’ll try.

Susan: Boys…interview?

Johnny: So Niko, what lesson did you learn in this story?

Susan: Johnny–

Johnny sits down next to Niko and nudges him in the shoulder. 

Niko: No. That’s okay. It’s a good question. I think I realized I was taking a lot for granted in my life. God had blessed me and I acted almost entitled to that. I didn’t really lack anything.

Johnny: And then you almost lost the most important thing.

Curly young woman portrait, outdoors, close-up, positive attitude, smiling.

Niko: She is amazing, isn’t she? I’m glad I had another chance. I’m glad that I got a happily ever after.

Johnny: For now… life does go on, you know, filled with ups and downs.

Niko: You know that better than anyone.

Johnny: Right, like your relationship with Tia was a walk in the park.

Niko: We took a few walks . . .

Johnny: Do you think we’ll get back to touring again?

Niko: Kind of depends on what happens with you.

Johnny :(frowns) Yeah, well I had my shot at happiness and blew it. I’ve given up on those dreams.

Niko: I don’t think God’s given up on you, though. Tia and I don’t plan to let you give up.

rootbeerandroadblocks_300Susan: When I finished Feta &  Freeways I was surprised at the curve ball that had come Johnny’s way so I was compelled to write him his own story. I called it Root Beer & Roadblocks. While Johnny goes through some difficulties I can promise He gets a happily ever after ending. Wanna see your book cover, Johnny? I thought my publisher did an awesome job.

Johnny: Sure. Why not? I look forward to hearing about what journey you took me on. Wow. I like that cover. I remember Tia giving me shades to wear and that stocking cap. She didn’t want me to outshine my cousin, Niko.

Niko: Give it up. She always loved me best anyway.

Johnny: Who? Tia or Susan?

Niko: Well, Tia of course, loved me best. But Susan? Susan, who do you love best?

bassista si esibisce al mare<Susan has left the room> 

Johnny: Obviously me. Had to be me.

Niko: I wouldn’t be so sure about that.

Johnny: Has to be – she saved the best story for last.

Niko: You do realize she’s written other books after this, right? And neither of us are the main characters?

Johnny: No way. Susan? Where did she go? Susan? Come on. You love me best, right?

Note: Burlap to Cashmere was the inspiration for the story – as were the lead singer Steven and his cousin Johnny (although Johnny usually plays guitar he does some keys in this video). You’ll also see Theodore here, their drummer. This is a song from them off their self-titled album where you can see – and hear the amazing vocals. 

 

When a Rejection Bears Fruit

I started writing in 2009. One novel through National Novel Writing Month. Had fun. Kept writing, clueless about all I didn’t know about writing and publishing fiction.

logoIn 2012 I wrote a historical novella A Wisconsin Christmas Blessing. I submitted it to a company called Pelican Book Group who was putting together a Christmas collection of novellas. The submission process resulted in a request for the full manuscript. Naive me – I thought I had it made. I was going to be published.

Not so fast, Susan. 

I got a rejection letter from one of the editors. But I didn’t get just a rejection letter. I received a 1 1/2 page (when I printed it out) email. She said: “I would like to list the most common errors to point out some things  that might help you prepare your manuscript for re-submission.” Six specific areas of growth to be exact. SIX! Talk about humbling.

fragileblessings1-copyDetailed, informative and time-consuming. As disappointed as I was at the rejection, I felt honored at her willingness to help me, a novice writer, grow. I sent her a thank you note for all the time she took to write that email and help me.

prism-new-logoI sat on that story for a few years. Time can often equal growth and wisdom if we let it! After I became an Acquisitions Editor with Prism Book Group another opportunity for a Christmas series of novellas arose so I rewrote my novella using all the tools that this fabulous and compassionate editor had given me. It was contracted, renamed and Fragile Blessings was published in 2015 to great reviews.

Now this is where it gets really weird. Prism Book Group was recently acquired by Pelican Book Group as one of their imprints. This also means that all my published works are now technically Pelican books (under the Prism Book Group imprint). So in essence, Pelican did end up publishing my novella! To be honest, the editor had given me an open door to resubmit that I had never taken her up on. God knew.

So now I will be part of a team of editors who I get to work with, one of whom was integral in helping me grow in my writing. Since that rejection, I’ve published two novellas, a collection of short stories, three novels (and a fourth coming soon) and have seven more books contracted. And another two with my agent.

Here are some of the lessons I learned that hopefully will help others: 

  1. Listen to the feedback you get from rejections. Not all of it will be right – but you can always learn something.
  2. Don’t give up. Maybe that story isn’t the one that’s going to sell, keep writing. Obviously, I didn’t stop at one novella given how many stories I’ve written. Write long, write short. Just don’t quit.
  3. Trust in God’s timing. My story wasn’t ready for publication in 2012 but after some conferences and growth and writing more stories in between, when I went back to that novella, I had better skills to apply to make it publishable.
  4. Don’t burn bridges. Can you imagine if I had sent a scathing note to that editor? She would have told her boss and do you think that woman would have been as eager to bring me on as an editor? It’s a small world in Christian publishing and while yes, we are commanded to forgive, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be trusted with the bigger tasks God might have in store with you down the line.
  5. Relish the new opportunities for growth. That editor is now someone who I’ll be working more closely with now with the books I edit and I hope and anticipate I’ll learn even more on my journey because I hope I never stop improving my stories or my editing for others.
  6. It’s okay to laugh. I am giggling at God’s path that led me here. I never in my wildest dreams would have imagined this journey he’s had me on and the blessings of the people He’s brought in my path. Writing (and editing) is hard. Pouring your soul on paper is not without risk and life itself throws us curveballs all the time. I’m grateful for the people God’s placed in my life to help me get to those next steps.

I’ve kept that editor’s name private for now… she knows who she is and my hope is that you’ll treat every editor you meet, not as your enemy, but as someone who really can help you grow, even when you get a rejection letter.

Oh, and I almost forgot. Fragile Blessings tied for second place as an inspirational short at OKRWA International Digital Awards for 2016. Not too shabby for a story that was initially rejected, right?

How about you, if you write, do you have any stories of things you’ve learned through the “rejection” process?