Guess a Quote (6.16.14)

Question MarkThis has been a fun, unique week here on Leah’s Bookshelf. The Help Me Name “Little Friend” post and Relationship Themed To-Read List were both new-to-the-blog type posts. I enjoyed trying something new, and I hope you did too. (Did you?) As I prepare to outline and write a new book, I’m also making plans to include all of you in that process. No, I won’t be constantly updating you on my word count or sharing writing tips. This is a blog for readers after all. Instead I’m hoping to let you get acquainted with the characters through some fun games, surveys, and more. It’s all still in the planning stages. Help Me Name “Little Friend” was the first step, though. If you already voted, be sure to leave a comment so you get credit for it. If you haven’t already voted, please do so. And invite your friends vote, too!

Last week’s quote came from Heidi, by Johanna Spyri. Since the books we read were translated from the original German text, different editions read a little differently. Morgan Huneke, Ella, and Hanna R. guessed it right despite that added challenge. Fun fact about this book. I misread the authors name as “Johann” instead of “Johanna” for most of my life. When someone referred to the author as “her”, I was shocked! 🙂

Here’s a real “flash from the past” for this week’s quote. Those with young siblings may have an advantage with this one.

“I think I will sit on it a little while longer,” said the duck, “as I have sat so long already, a few days will be nothing.”

Happy Guessing!

Help Me Name “Little Friend”!

Help Me Name Little Friend*This Survey Is Now Ended, visit Meet Suhana for results
I think most of you know that I’m a writer. If you were unaware of this fact, I invite you to read my short story, Saving Memories. I’m wrapping up final edits on my previous book, Counted Worthy, and getting ready to launch into outlining my next book, Shadow Mission. I have a slight problem, though. I can’t decide on a name for one of my favorite characters! Can you help me pick a name for “Little Friend”? You can read more about her on the form below. If you’d like some pictures to help, she has her own board on Pinterest. Thanks so much!

P.S. Leave a comment to tell me which name you picked and why! 🙂

Check it Out! Stories for God’s Glory with New Vendor

Stories for God's Glory-Adventure My long time readers may remember reading about Stories for God’s Glory (SfGG) in the past. For newer readers, SfGG is a writing curriculum I authored. It’s designed to teach Jr. High students how to write quality fiction (you can learn more here –> StoriesForGodsGlory.com). It’s been carried by Schoolhouse Publisher for a few years now, and I’ve taken it to two homeschool conventions myself. Now I’m excited to announce that another vendor is carrying the curriculum!

Stories for God’s Glory
carried by
Finding Christ Through Fiction

Finding Christ Through Fiction is both an online store and homeschool convention vendor. Please check out SfGG on their website and share the news with your friends!

Author Interview: Hannah Mills

Hannah MillsHi everyone! Sorry to be a bit late with today’s post. I had a lot of school to do and didn’t turn on the computer because I didn’t want to get distracted. Anyway, here’s an interview with author Hannah Mills, who also happens to be a good friend of mine. Enjoy!

What gave you the idea for Plague of Darkness?
The idea came from the character of Teague. I liked him so much that before I was even halfway through “Called”, I decided that I simply had to explore Teague’s backstory and give him his own book.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Honestly, I think the most difficult part about the writing of this book was keeping it consistent with what he shared of his past in Called. If you can avoid writing books out-of-order, do! It’s a lot harder than one would realize.

What is one personal lesson you learned from writing this book?
Strength of will. I’ve always been a stubborn person, but Teague has a stronger will than I do, and helped me realize how strong and resilient one can be under incredible pressures.

What have been the pros and cons of self-publishing?
The biggest pro has been getting to do my own cover designs. The cons are that right now, I don’t have the know-how or time to really market my books.

Are you working on any new books?
Yes! I am currently working on Hosanna House, a contemporary novel. It’s going through a lot of editing after placing 2nd in a novel contest. I’m really excited about it, and can’t wait to share it with the world.

Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?
Readers, have high standards. Don’t settle for poor writing. Some amazing books are out there, and well worth your time. Writers, keep reading– and read high quality fiction and non-fiction. If you are not a good reader, chances are you won’t be a good writer. And also, be patient with yourself. It’s neat to look back at my old writings and see how much I’ve improved. It just takes time, practice, and a willingness to learn.

Thanks for the interview Hannah!

Most Popular Posts of 2012

header.jpgRachelle Gardner, The author of an agent blog I follow, just published a post telling readers what her most popular blog posts were over the past year. It sounded like a good idea to me, so I figured I’d do the same. Here are the five posts that were viewed most this past year.

I hope you’ll enjoy reviewing the year as much as I did.

Author Interview: Molly Evangeline

Molly EvangelineLast Friday I reviewed The Pirate Daughter’s Promise. If you haven’t already done so, go comment on that post for your chance to win a free copy of the book. Today, author Molly Evangeline is here for an interview. Please join me in welcoming her.

What gave you the idea for The Pirate Daughter’s Promise?
All I used to write were horse stories until I saw The Fellowship of the Ring as a teenager. That was the first step that started me in the direction of writing action/adventure type stories. A year later, I saw the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie for my fifteenth birthday and fell in love with the idea of pirates and sailing. The plot for The Pirate Daughter’s Promise developed shortly after that.

How long did it take for you to write this book?
I wrote the first three or four chapters as the story was developing, but hit a snag and set it aside for about three years. My love for pirate stories resurfaced again with the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie so I pulled the story back out. Once I got into it, I wrote the remaining chapters in about two and a half weeks.

Tell us about your self-publishing experience. What has been the best and hardest thing about self-publishing?
It took a long time to really settle into self/indie publishing. When I first chose to self-publish The Pirate Daughter’s Promise it was because I had no idea how to get into traditional publishing and I was impatient. Now it’s a decided choice, and I don’t think I’d ever choose traditional publishing even if it was offered to me. The best thing about it is the control and the potential to actually make a living off it. I am a very do-it-yourself type of person. I typically spend over a year actually writing a book, and when I put that much effort into something, I want to see it to the end so I know I’ll be 100% happy with it. And the fact is, if you’re trying to do this as your job, indie publishing is much more profitable than traditional publishing, but it all depends on your ability to market and sell books. That’s where the hardest part comes in. Marketing is something you have to work very hard at, especially if it’s not something you’re good at. It takes a lot of time and effort that you would much rather spend on the actual writing process. But, if you’re doing what you love, it’s all worth it in the end.

What person has influenced your writing the most?
Definitely my mom. She is a writer too, and if she had not been writing while I was young, I may never have tried it myself. It was also her decision to homeschool me that played a huge part in where I am now. All that extra time I had to devote to writing, and imagining, and improving my skills was invaluable. A homeschool lifestyle also gave me the DIY attitude I needed to pursue self-publishing and setting up my own indie publishing company. I also have to point to J.R.R. Tolkien as the second most influential person in my writing. Discovering The Lord of the Rings when I was thirteen was a turning point for me. That’s the first time I realized writing was what I wanted to do with my life, and his stories still have a huge effect on what I like to write today.

Are you working on any new stories?
I am right in the middle of writing a new young adult fantasy series called Ilyon Chronicles. It’s the biggest project I’ve ever undertaken. It will be six books (unless something drastic happens along the way and a seventh book pops up). I started the first book, which turned out to be the longest book I’ve ever written, in June 2011, and I am now just about finished with book two. It’s set in a medieval/ancient Rome type setting with a tyrannical government and dealing with some issues we have now in modern society, so it’s full of action/adventure as well as many spiritual, emotional, and physical struggles. I’ve never been so close to or related so much to my characters as I have this group. I’m only a third of the way through the series and I’ve already laughed and cried and experienced incredible highs and lows with them.

Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?
I am beyond excited to share Ilyon Chronicles. I have a ton of work to do before that can happen, but every day I’m working hard to get there. There’s something special about this story. The things God has been showing me and the way He’s guiding me through all the little details is amazing. This story is so far above anything I’ve ever done before, and I can hardly wait to see what readers think and what God does with it. I’ve already set up a website for it, http://www.ilyonchronicles.com, and have an active Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/ilyonchronicles. I try to keep it updated often with where I am in writing the series, and occasionally post little snippets of the story.

Thanks for the interview, Molly! Readers, do you have thoughts or questions about anything Molly said?

Author Interview: Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Why did you choose tell “Jefferson’s Sons” through the eyes of three characters?
This was mostly a decision based on structure. As I did the research for this book, the time frame kept expanding. I could see how the world in which Beverly spent his early years, at Monticello during the relative stillness of Jefferson’s Presidency, was very different from that in which Maddy grew up, after Jefferson’s retirement, when visitors flocked to the farm. I wanted to contrast those differences. But I also really, really, wanted to tell what I saw as the natural end of the story–that horrifying auction after Jefferson’s death–and, by that point, Beverly is long gone, and Maddy fully grown. Peter Fossett actually left a written account of his childhood at Monticello, a terrific first-person source for those final years. To start where I wanted to start, I had to be in Beverly’s voice–he’s really the only one old enough to carry the story–and at the end, I had to be in Peter’s voice, as he’s the only one left.

Theoretically I could have stayed with just those two, but there’s another problem: I wanted this book to reach middle school audiences. To do that, I have to keep a certain level of innocence in the discourse. Some of the topics we cover would be viewed and discussed very differently by adult narrators, and the minute I slide into an adult point-of-view I run the danger of losing of either being untruthful to the history, or writing something inappropriate for a fifth-grader to read. When I split the narrative three ways, so that each voice begins at around age 7 and continues into early teens (a bit younger for Peter), I could cover the ground I wanted to cover, and still write the book I wanted to write.

Please note that if this hadn’t been based so strongly on historical facts I wouldn’t have done it this way. If it were straight fiction–I was making all this up–I’d have used one narrator and a much shorter time frame. Easier on everyone. But the biggest strength of the book is that is very much based on fact.

Do you have a favorite scene in this book?
Hmm. I’d have to go with the ending–very hard to write, and it’s certainly not the happiest scene, but I was really pleased with how I got it in the end. I think it has a rhythm that suits the action.

What was one of the most unexpected facts or stories you uncovered while researching for “Jefferson’s Sons”?
There are simply tons of good stories, many of which couldn’t make it into the book. For example, Joe Fossett’s older brother Daniel, who is very briefly mentioned as having been sold away why Joe was a small boy, actually bought Wormley Hughes at the auction. He bought him for a dollar and gave him his freedom. Where Daniel had been living and how he gained his own freedom are completely unknown–from a historical point of view, he appears, then disappears again.

Part way through my research, the historians at Monticello found evidence that Patsy Fossett gained her freedom as an adult–she comes up in Census records in 1830, in Cincinnati, which is where many of the Fossetts were living, including Joe and Edith. Prior to a few years ago, she was “lost” from a historical point of view–no one knew what had happened to her.

Do you have plans for another historical fiction?
I’m in the middle of a book set in England during World War II. It features wholly fictional characters, more like my book Weaver’s Daughter than Jefferson’s Sons.

What advice would you give to a person trying to become a fiction writer?
Read everything you can. Especially read writers you admire. Write, but don’t be too eager for publication–publication is really hard, and rejection is really discouraging, and at the start you just need to write for yourself, nobody else. Forget “write what you know.” Write what you want to read.

Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?
I’m really pleased at how many people are reading and responding to Jefferson’s Sons. It’s been a really good journey. Thanks for inviting me onto your blog, and for caring about my book.

Thank you for joining us on this blog! I’m looking forward to reading your new books in the future.

Visit Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s Website
Read More Author Interviews

Author Interview with Rick Barry

I am so excited that Rick Barry, author of Gunner’s Run, (click here for my book review of Gunner’s Run) is here to answer a few questions about Gunner’s Run and writing. If you haven’t already read Gunner’s Run, I encourage you to think about doing so. Enjoy the interview!


What was the most unexpected fact or story you uncovered while researching for “Gunner’s Run”?

Looking back, I believe the most unexpected fact I discovered in my research concerned traitors who aided the Nazis voluntarily, particularly in Belgium. I had been to Belgium before, but obviously not during World War II. So I had never realized how some Belgians quickly tried to get in good with the victorious Nazi invaders by helping them and spying for them and turning in citizens who secretly resisted the invasion. This is the fact that led me to create the character Henri, who at first befriends Jim Yoder, but later imprisons him in order to turn him over to the Nazi regime for a reward.


What message would you like readers to take away from “Gunner’s Run”?

I will word this answer carefully, because I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone who hasn’t read the book yet. However, you can say that Jim Yoder never viewed himself as a hero and at the beginning of the story really had no interest in God whatsoever. He thought he was in pretty good control of his life. But when reality strikes and he finds himself alone, away from all his friends, and on the run behind German lines, he realizes he really is not the captain of his own fate, that he could be shot and killed any moment. That’s when he begins recalling everything that he ever learned about God and begins to trust in Him instead of himself.

What advice would you give to a person trying to become a fiction writer?

This is a terrific question, but it’s also one that could fill up a whole book by itself. Today’s fiction writers face a lot of competition, so in order to rise above the mass of mediocre writing being done out there, I would give several starter tips:

1. Read–a lot! And I don’t mean short, frivolous stuff. Especially read books in the genre you want to write someday, and you’ll be filling your brain with good plots, good background information, good examples of grammar, etc. Even without taking a course in writing, people who read widely greatly expand their literary and historical horizons. At the same time, though, be discerning in what you read. Many novelists fill their stories with illicit relationships, vulgar language, and other unseemly details not fitting for the brain of a wholesome person. If you feed your brain unclean images and stories, you can pollute your thinking. I’m a Christian writer, and I don’t want to feed on literature that describes intricate details of things that God despises.

2. Pay attention to good English. Learn the right way to punctuate. Study how quality writers use punctuation marks. Master proper spelling. If you depend on your computer’s spell-checker to get the spelling and punctuation correct, then you are headed for trouble. Very often your computer will not understand what you’re trying to spell when you write plain or plane, affect or effect, insure or ensure, etc. Words and punctuation form the writer’s toolbox. Master the use of your tools just as a carpenter masters his tools, and just as the surgeon learns how to use his surgical instruments.

3. Develop a thick skin. Most writers will sooner or later ask someone else to read their manuscript and provide feedback. However, many, many of these people don’t really want honest feedback. Instead they want praise, and they will bristle when others point out errors or weaknesses. If you want to improve, take criticism in stride. If someone points out a problem, don’t get defensive or angry. Instead, objectively consider the statement and see how you can make your work better. Also, if someone praises your work, that’s nice, but it’s not helpful. Thank them for the compliment but still press them and say, “But how can I make it better?”

4. Subscribe to magazines specifically for writers. Good examples are The Writer, Writer’s Digest, and Christian Communicator.

5. You can learns tons of information about the publishing world today by reading the blogs of well-known Christian literary agents. I particularly recommend the blogs of the Steve Laube Literary Agency (http://stevelaube.com/blog/) and the blog of the Books & Such Agency (http://www.booksandsuch.biz/blog/). These agencies provide truly valuable information and professional insight on their blogs, and it’s free! (You can even comment or ask questions, and the agents will answer your questions, so these are terrific learning tools.)

Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?

Technology is changing, and the whole world is changing, but people still love a good story. The power of story is tremendous regardless of whether it comes as a book, or on a Nook, or on some other device. The author who can weave a good story can lead the brains of readers to places and times they’ve never personally experienced. If the story causes that reader to become a better person as a result of your words, then that is truly rewarding.

You can visit Mr. Barry at his own blog by clicking here.