Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Secret Sisters BOOK WINNER ANNOUNCED - WANTED - Worst Date Stories. You might win a copy of "Summer in Paris"

The winner of Tristi Pinkston's book, Secret Sisters, is . . . Miss Breeze! If you will post a comment to this blog announcement to verify that you are you, then email me at your book will be sent to you. CONGRATULATIONS!

ALSO . . .

My good friend Amie Dame Aycock is writing a book and is looking for stories about bad dating experiences to include in her book. If you've had a bad date and you're willing to share it, your story could end up in Amie's book and you might win a copy of my newest release, Summer in Paris.

To share your story you can either:

1 - write it as a comment to this blog
2 - email it directly to Michele at
3 - post it to Michele's Facebook pageHERE

Can't wait to read about those dates! You can change the names to protect the innocent.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Interview with Daron Fraley, Review and Book Giveaway of "The Thorn"

Daron Fraley was born in Powell, Wyoming, but doesn’t consider himself a cowboy. Living in France for a couple of years provided him the opportunity to hone his cooking skills and to become addicted to good food and chocolate. Apart from his loving family, teaching and writing are his two most favorite things in the world. A classic computer geek, he still likes to fish and camp, makes a mean apple or pumpkin pie from scratch, and once fixed a gas clothes dryer using photocopier parts. With all of his interests in music, art, the sciences, and religion (especially religion), he would have been quite comfortable living during the Renaissance. Having toured chilly castles while in France, he is glad he didn’t live during that time. “The Thorn” is his first novel.

After ten total years in the wonderful state of Indiana, Daron, his wife Jennifer, and their six children once again live in the beautiful Rockies, close to friends and family in Wyoming and Utah.

The Thorn, book one of The Chronicles of Gan:

Three tribes are at war on the planet Gan, unaware that the sign of Christ’s birth on an unknown world—Earth—is about to appear in the heavens. During a bloody skirmish with Gideonite troops, Jonathan of Daniel spares Pekah, a young enemy soldier, gaining his trust forever. These two distant brothers from estranged tribes covenant with each other to end the war being waged by a self-proclaimed emperor, and soon discover the intentions of a far more dangerous foe named Rezon—a sinister general bent on ruling those he can bring into subjection and destroying all others. In the end, Pekah’s selfless bravery is the means by which all the tribes are united. But there are dissenters, and Rezon escapes a well-deserved fate. When the promised heavenly signs appear, will there be peace at last, or will the malefactors once again threaten the safety of them all?

My review of The Thorn
"The Thorn" by first-time author Daron D. Fraley is a story that blends a mixture of history and religious beliefs as viewed through the eyes of people living on the planet known as Gan. I have often wondered about the people and places that are referred to as “other sheep I have, not of this fold” and Fraley creates a wonderfully detailed story around this premise.

Gan is inhabited by three tribes who battle for the right to rule. Fraley’s characters and world have been painted with such detail and finesse that the reader will become lost in the story and feel transported to another place and time. I appreciated that the world was similar to Earth and everything that happened could happen in our world. For me, that heightened the believability factor and pulled me into the story without hesitation.

I grew up watching war movies with my father, who fought in the Korean War, and have an interest in battles and war strategies. Fraley did a superb job of staging the war, even down to the details of weapons, particularly the sword which Jonathan used called, The Thorn. Again, Fraley’s use of details layered the story with textures that made it rich and gave it depth. Including symbolism like stones that glowed with light when rubbed reminded me of elements found in the scriptures.

“The Thorn” will touch readers in different ways and especially those who appreciate and enjoy seeing the scriptures brought to life through fiction. I enjoyed this book thoroughly and look forward to Book Two.

I had a chance to meet Daron a few weeks ago and enjoyed getting to know him and feel the great passion he has for writing and for his stories. Here's my interview with him.

M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Daron: I suppose that occurred when I went to a book signing to meet James Dashner and Shannon Hale. It was the first time I had ever had a real, live, published author sign a book. I discovered that authors are cool people! Who wouldn't want to be cool like that—to be able to meet people with a smile on your face and a pen in your hand?

Since published authors are published because they wrote something worth publishing and a publisher's editor has assisted to clean up the manuscript (this sentence would never make it through editing), I need to start at the beginning. For me, that journey started in High School. An avid reader in my teens, I took a creative writing class. That class changed my life because it unveiled a talent which I didn't know I had. The creative urge to express myself through the written word has been with me ever since. A good English teacher can do wonders, can't they?

M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?

Daron: It took me a long time to finish my first book, mostly because I didn't know how to get from the initial idea to a finished plot with a great ending. I was writing purely for enjoyment, so when life continued to mozy along, I found there were occasional periods when I didn't write a single sentence for months at a time. Sometimes when I would come back to my project, I wasn't sure where the story was going. Research on the internet usually got me going again.

There are some great blogs out there by other writers! I saw that many of them had the same concerns I did. But, they also had a fierce determination to get published. That is when I decided I wanted to finish my book, if it was the last thing I ever did. After I was done, I went through the story with an editor's hat on . . . perhaps it was more like a child's birthday hat—you know, the pointy ones made of cardboard and and elastic string. Once again, the blogs of writers, publishers, editors, and agents came to the rescue.

There are three things which helped me to get the manuscript ready to submit to a publisher:

1. I gave the manuscript to readers, begging them to be critical.

2. I started reading like crazy. As I read other books, I could see areas where mine could be improved.

3. After fixing everything which my readers marked, I sent the manuscript to a freelance editor.

That was the best money I ever spent. After Danyelle Ferguson got done with it, I had so many red marks that it took me two months to fix them all. Let me tell you something: A good editor is worth their weight in gold. Danyelle's good work, and the suggestions from another published author (Marion Jensen, AKA Matthew Buckley), were the two biggest reasons that my manuscript was finally ready for submission.

The second best money I ever spent: I attended a writer's conference. At the LDS Storymakers Conference last spring, I pitched my manuscript to an acquisitions editor at a large regional publisher, and although they didn't take it, I received some great feedback. Just a few weeks later, I submitted to Valor Publishing and was accepted in July. I can honestly say that without the contacts I had made through blogs and the conference, I would not have been successful.

M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?

Daron: Honestly, the editing in preparation for submission was quite discouraging. I don't want it to sound like my manuscript was complete garbage when I started the process, but there were some writing techniques which I needed to improve, and therefore, I went through the manuscript several times. About the 100th time I read the book I was ready to be done. My advice to others: Never give up! It was totally worth the time I invested to make my book the best it could be.

M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?

Daron: Much too haphazard. I really need to get into a schedule!

M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is
good enough to write a book about it?

Daron: Daydreaming. Absolutely. Some people sing in the shower. I tend to have my most creative thoughts when I am doing repetitive things which take no brain power, like taking a shower, brushing my teeth, driving to work, etc. I strongly recommend that anyone wanting to write carries a notebook and pen with them at all times. Except perhaps, into the shower.

One of the short stories I wrote (“WATER”, which you can find on my website under READ), came to me when I should have been paying attention to a power-point presentation at work. I apologize, but the subject was so incredibly dry! And I was tired. My mind started to wander. And then it came to me all at once. I almost couldn't write it down fast enough.

How do I know when it is a good enough idea? Well, if the idea continues to build and I can't stop thinking about it, or if I get all excited about the possibilities in the storyline, it seems to be a fair indication that the idea is a good one.

M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to
have their manuscripts become books in print?

Daron: I think I may have covered this sufficiently, so I will summarize:

1. Have a group of readers who can offer an honest critique. Your mother doesn't count.

2. Get help from a professional editor.

3. LISTEN to what they tell you. Fix everything.

4. Actually submit the manuscript. It does no good in a desk drawer, or sitting on a computer hard drive.

5. Never give up.

M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit
down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline

Daron: My method is a mixture of the two: brainstorm when I have spare moments to think, write like crazy, brainstorm in the process.

M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's
block? If so, how do you deal with it?

Daron: Do you call a period of one and a half years a period of writer's block? Or is that simply a lack of interest? The biggest snag I had in my book was after a scene in the woods where my characters are talking around a campfire. I had no idea how to get them into the city of Ain, how to rescue the damsel in distress, or how to win the war. After that experience, I decided it is far better to plot things out ahead of time with an end goal in mind. I had to decide where I wanted the story to end, and when I did, it helped me to build in the steps to get there.

M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?

Daron: I rarely listen to music. Noisy children or the television distract me. I prefer the quiet.

M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?

Daron: I read. I read in multiple genres. I also read in the scriptures—some of the best story ideas have come to me while pondering a story found in the scriptures. I assume that is because of the type of stories I have been writing.

M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?

Daron: Wow. That is a hard question. I can't choose a single person, however. As a group, LDS Storymakers and the writers who attend their conference—those folks are my heroes. I could not have gotten to this point without them.

M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?

Daron: Yes, but my critique group has changed a little. It started out as a group of friends, then changed to a group of more serious writers. Both have been helpful.

M.B.: Which of your books is your favorite, and why?

Daron: All one of them, of course.

M.B.: Any final words you would like to share

Daron: I came across this just today! “All generalizations are false, including this one.” - Mark Twain (I sure hope Mark Twain actually said this . . . if I find out later it was really Samuel Clemens, I will be embarrassed).

Please don't take my lightheartedness as being a sign that my book is a comedy. I will leave you with this very serious thought:

What if people living on another planet, one of God's other creations, are waiting for Christ to come visit them?

M.B.: Wow, I love that. So, where can our readers go to find your books and order them?

Daron: “The Thorn”, book one in the series “The Chronicles of Gan”, can be pre-ordered at In a few weeks the book will also be available on my own website through an Amazon link ( ) and through most book stores. Please come to my website and click on “DARON” to find my contact information. If you would like to follow me on facebook, twitter, goodreads, or send me a note by email, you will find the links you need on that page.

1 vote - Follow this blog.
1 vote - Follow Daron's blog.
2 votes - post this contest and interview/review on your blog.
1 vote - Follow Michele on Facebook
1 vote - Follow Daron on Facebook

Good Luck! Winners announced soon.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Interview with Kim Job AND BOOK GIVEAWAY

It is such a pleasure to spotlight author, Kimberly Job, on my blog. Not only is she a beautiful and talented woman, she has an incredible presence about her and this is reflected in her writing.

Kimberly Job was born in Utah, the middle of three children, and the only girl. She graduated from Utah Valley University with a degree in Business Management which later proved useful as she ran a successful small business. She and her husband, Scott, have a combined family of ten children--seven boys and three girls. Kimberly loves being a mom and feels that raising exceptional children is her most valuable mission in this life.

Many times while growing up, escaping into the pages of a book created a safe haven from difficulties in her own life. Her writing reflects the many personal experiences she has gone through and offers insight on difficult issues from a refreshing gospel perspective.

In addition to writing, she is an avid reader and scrapbooker. She loves to cook, play with her children, snuggle with her husband and will never tire of learning new things.
The day Stephanie Roberts met Jared Wakefield, she didn't realize they'd met before. Running from an abusive marriage and trying to safeguard her children, she turns to Jared for support, but he needs more from her than she might be capable of giving. With her abusive husband looming in her past, the difficulties they must overcome to be together seem insurmountable.

Is it possible for love to conquer all? I'll Know You By Heart is a timeless romance that explores the possibility that relationships span the entire realm of eternity. A story about abuse, hardship, and betrayal, it is ultimately a story about the healing power of everlasting true love.

Price: $16.95
Publisher: Valor Publishing Group, LLC (March 16, 2010)
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Binding: Trade Paperback
Pages: 275
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1-935546-13-9
Product Dimensions: 6 x 9 inches

Order I'll Know You by Heart HERE

Kimberly writes with power and passion, as she shares the story of Stephanie, a victim of an abusive husband, and her fight to survive and reclaim her life.

On the back of the book you can read my endorsement:
"A story of pain, survival, and love, I'll Know You by Heart is a deeply emotional journey of one woman's determination to save herself and her family from a life of abuse and fear. Kimberly Job writes with power and honesty, allowing us to care deeply about the characters, but still giving us hope for a happy ending."

This book will touch readers hearts and warm their souls as they follow Stephanie's path from the chains of abuse to the joy of everlasting love.

Here is my interview with Kimberly:

M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Kimberly: I have always loved to read, and thoughts about trying to write something myself occasionally flitted through my mind, but I never really pursued it. In 2008, I met a friend who is an aspiring author. I was fascinated and told him that I’d considered writing. He encouraged me to try.

M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?

Kimberly: It was surprisingly easy. My book, I’ll Know You by Heart, is the first one I’ve written. I was approached by my publisher and told, “We want that book.” A couple members of the acquisitions committee had already read it, so I assume that helped it along the way.

M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?

Kimberly: I did have moments of discouragement. Because I was a brand new writer, I had so much to learn. I would go to my critique group and receive amazing critiques and feedback about my work, but feel like I had nothing to give back. I read lots of books on writing, and soaked up all the information I could find.

M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?

Kimberly: I don’t really have a set writing schedule. I work and have ten kids, so I spend a lot of late nights writing. I’ve recently set a goal for myself to write 1,000 words before I can spend time on the internet participating in the various forms of social networking.

M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is
good enough to write a book about it?

Kimberly: My ideas come from my own personal experiences, and by watching people around me. Even being observant and listening in line at the store is a great way to get story ideas. If I can take an idea and see a beginning, middle, and end, and throw in some conflict along the way, I figure it’s good enough to write a book about.

M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to
have their manuscripts become books in print?

Kimberly: Read, read, read—books in the genre you are interested in writing, books on writing—pretty much anything you can get your hands on. Also, join a critique group. I have learned so much from my critique group. It’s helpful to get critiques on your own writing, but also to hear recommendations for others. It is also motivating and keeps me writing since I know that I have to bring a new chapter to critique group each week.

M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit
down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline

Kimberly: I have done it both ways, but I prefer to have an outline. I don’t necessarily outline fine details, but it keeps me on track and helps me hit the main points along the way. I find when I don’t out outline, I spend a lot more editing time trying to make sure that all the details fit.

M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's
block? If so, how do you deal with it?

Kimberly: I often have moments where my writing seems flat and I don’t like the way my story is going. I figure if I think it is boring, my readers will too. I usually note in my manuscript in capital red letters about what I need to add to the scene later. Then I go to a scene that is more defined in my mind. I find if I take some time away and think about a troublesome spot, I usually come up with something that is much better than the original idea. When I start feeling excited about an idea, I know it’s the right one, and can’t wait to write it.

M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when
you are writing?

Kimberly: Because I have a large family, I’m used to noise and don’t need absolute quiet to write. I have never tried listening to music while I write, but I definitely think it could be helpful since music evokes emotion.

M.B.: Any final words you would like to share?

Kimberly: Writing, like any worthwhile pursuit, takes work. But if you have enough desire, you can accomplish anything you set out to do. I attribute my success to some natural talent, but mostly to my determination to learn all I could about the craft of writing. I read everything about writing that I can get my hands on. Also, try not to listen to the perfectionist in your head who says everything has to be exactly right, and wonders if you’ll ever be good enough. If you stick with it, you will.

M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?

Kimberly: Right now, my book is available for preorder from my publisher. It’s also available on Amazon. Once it’s released it will be available at Barnes and Noble as well as other local bookstores.
Places you can find Kimberly online:

TO WIN A COPY OF I'll Know You by Heart:
Follow this blog, or post that you are a blog follower. 1 entry
Follow Kim's blog, or post that you are a blog follower. 1 entry
Post this interview and book giveaway on your blog. 1 entry
Follow Michele on Facebook, 1 entry
Add Michele's button to your blog. 1 entry
GOOD LUCK! Winners announced May 7th

Friday, April 16, 2010

Interview with Tristi Pinkston and Review of Secret Sisters and . . . GIVEAWAY! Win Tristi's book!

Tristi Pinkston is a stay-at-home mom, homeschooler, media reviewer, obsessive blogger, editor, author, and headless chicken. She's married to her first and only boyfriend, Matt Pinkston, and together they have four adorable children--Caryn, Ammon, Joseph, and Benjamin.

Tristi is a regularly featured presenter at the annual LDStorymakers Writers Conference and enjoys helping others learn how to fine-tune their writing skills. She also gives presentations on literacy, the Hole in the Rock pioneers, and the importance of honoring the talents you've been given.

Tristi is the author of three historical fiction novels and one contemporary mystery. "Secret Sisters" is her first novel with Valor Publishing Group.

"I was thoroughly enthralled and captivated by the characters in this book. Over-the-top and completely lovable, Ida Mae and her counselors/co-horts resort to any means to magnify their callings. I laughed out loud in places and had a hard time putting this book down. I'm so excited that there are four more books to come!" Michele Ashman Bell

If you don't believe me, here are what other people are saying about Secret Sisters. . .

"Pinkston has created a vivid assortment of over-the-top, multi-dimensional characters, while carefully adding enough depth to endear them to the reader. The plot is pure whimsy with an unexpected twist at the end that will keep you scratching your head until the final page-turn. Pinkston has done a fine job of hitting the comedy and drama buttons while tugging on the heartstrings as well." - L.C. Lewis

"While Secret Sisters does include a mystery, it is not the focus of the story. The zany antics of Ida Mae and her cohorts will keep you laughing throughout the entire book. Tristi also includes some real life lessons throughout the book. I finished the story feeling uplifted and happier, and I think you will too. It's a quick, entertaining read, and I highly recommend it. It's definitely going on my shelf of books to keep and read again and again." - Kimberly Job

"Tristi's books are always a treat and I'm guaranteed a good read. This is the first fiction/mystery of Tristi's that I've read. She's an accomplished writer of historical fiction and those will continue to be among my favorite books. I'm not usually a fan of mysteries, but this light and amusing story provided me with an enjoyable few hours." - Karen Clark

"I have to admit that even though I've served in a few Relief Society presidencies, I've never taken my job quite this seriously. We could all learn a thing or two. Putting aside all the illegal acts Ida Mae and her presidency participated in, they really did know how to serve and watch out for the women in their stewardship. I feel a new motivation to personally maximize my own calling." - Kimberly Coates

I had a chance to interview Tristi about her new book. Here's what she had to say.

M.B.: You seem to have a real affinity for these characters. Are they based on someone you know? What is it that makes them so lovable?

Tristi: They're based on themselves. These little ladies popped into my head perfectly formed, with all their own personality quirks and their ways of looking at the world, and all I've done is sit and listen to them. I think it's their "realness" that makes them so lovable.

MB: What's next for these three ladies? Have you got a sequel in the works?

Tristi: "Secret Sisters" is the first in a series of five, so there will be four sequels. The titles are: "Ida Mae Rides Again" (August 2010) "She Wore a Yellow Girdle" (March 2011) "Targets in Ties" (August 2011) and "...And Something Blue" (March 2012)

M.B.: I'm sure I'm not the only one that wants to know this, but, you get more done in a day than any ten people I know. How many hours of sleep do you get a night?

Tristi: Not very many. :) I should make a New Year's Resolution ... but it's not New Year's.

M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Tristi: I wrote a little story when I was five years old, about a dog named Sue who wanted to be a ballerina. I loved how I could “see” the story in my mind while I was writing it, like peeking into another world through a window. I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t want to write – it came with me, I guess.

M.B.: What is your writing and educational background?

Tristi: I was homeschooled through high school, and then took some writing courses through BYU Independent Study on the college level. I’m very much a self-taught person. My parents handed me books, I read ‘em, and then I started finding my own books to read and do to this day. Any subject I find interesting, I’ll read about. As to my writing background, I’ve been writing pretty much my whole life, from depressing poetry to failed attempts at fantasy until I finally found the two genres that match me – historical fiction and cozy mysteries.

M.B.: What makes you passionate about writing?

Tristi: I feel the most like myself when I’m writing. It keeps me grounded and centered. If I go for too long without it, I start to have withdrawals. Sometimes I shake. Not really … but it feels like it.

M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?

Tristi: I sent it in to one publisher who liked it and asked for a rewrite. I sent it in again, and they had it for over a year before deciding it wasn’t a romance. Huh? I never told them it was a romance. It was a historical fiction. But they decided to reject it because it wasn’t romantic enough to be a romance. Okay …

Then I sent it to another publisher, not knowing that they would ask for some money to help fund the printing. They loved it, but I didn’t have the money.

Then I heard from Granite Publishing, and I went in to meet with them. We signed a contract, and “Nothing to Regret” was born. I also published “Strength to Endure” with them before we parted ways.

M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?

Tristi: Sure, I’ve been discouraged. In fact, after the second publisher told me they needed me to fork over some money, I went to bed and cried for two hours. But then I did what I always do – I got mad, I got out of bed, I went to an all-night Kinko’s and ran off four more copies of the manuscript, and did a mass submission. That’s when I found Granite. If I’d stayed in bed, I might not be a published author today.

Life brings disappointment and discouragement. There’s no way to avoid it. But it’s what we do with that discouragement that makes us or breaks us.

M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?

Tristi: I do most of my writing late at night or on the weekends. Being a busy mom and working for Valor, I fit the writing in wherever I can. But my characters make it easy. I just sit down and open my document, they start to talk, and I just transcribe what they say. They’re great that way.

M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is
good enough to write a book about it?

Tristi: Oh, wow. That could be a whole ‘nother blog post. My ideas have come from a wide variety of sources. “Nothing to Regret” was a dream. “Strength to Endure” came to me in Relief Society. “Season of Sacrifice” was a family history, and “Agent in Old Lace” began off a news story but ended up completely different from the first idea.

M.B.: When did the idea for this book first come to you?

Tristi: It was in the middle of the night, during a conversation with my husband. He was discouraged because a sister in his care as a home teacher felt as though she was being spied on when our stake president asked the home teachers to take stock of how much food storage everyone had. I said, “What if home teachers and visiting teachers really did spy on people?” We sat and talked about it for a good hour and gave ourselves the giggles. By the time I woke up the next morning, the characters were in my brain, ready to tell their story.

M.B.: What do you hope readers will get from this book?

Tristi: I hope they have fun. My first three books are more serious, dealing with moments in history, but I hope “Secret Sisters” makes people laugh and truly enjoy themselves. We need to appreciate life more.

M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit
down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline

Tristi: My historicals were outlined in that I would have a time line in front of me, with the major events of that historical event on it. I would then decide where my character would be at each point in that history. Then I sat down and let it flow. With “Secret Sisters,” though, it’s totally been by the seat of my pants. I let the characters off their leash, and they run with it. Then I go through and make sure all the loose ends are tied up.

M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?

Tristi: I stand up, walk away, and do something else. I can’t try to force it, or it takes even longer to come. Most of my writer’s block comes from being too tired, and so when I rest, it comes back.

M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when
you are writing?

Tristi: I can write through kids and television – I’ve learned to block those sounds out. But I can’t concentrate if there’s contention, so the kids have to be happy. I can’t listen to music at all while I’m writing. I prefer music with lyrics, and I like to sing along, and I can’t write and sing at the same time. Therefore, no music.

M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?

Tristi: If I’m writing a historical, before I ever sit down to write, I do a ton of research. I also watch movies set in that era and get a feel for the clothes, manners, and how things looked back then. Very often, little things I see or read will spark off whole subplots. For “Secret Sisters,” I just wait for the little ladies to start talking. And they do talk … a lot … about everything, and not just their story.

M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?

Tristi: A great many people have come into my life and said a little something or done a little something to shape me into who I am today. I don’t know if I can really narrow it down – they range from grandparents and parents to other authors to readers –but each of them have been so appreciated.

M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?

Tristi: I didn’t use a critique group for my first four novels. I didn’t have access to one at the start, and then I wasn’t sure I could fit one in to my schedule. But right at the same time I started writing “Secret Sisters,” I was invited to join a critique group with Keith Fisher, Heather Justesen, Nichole Giles, and Kimberly Job. I love the friendship and the support, and I love how each person brings a different perspective to the table and they each tell me something different to work on. I wish I’d had them in 2002!

M.B.: Which of your books is your favorite, and why?

Tristi: Each book represents who I was at the time I wrote it, so it’s hard to say. I learned a lot about writing with “Nothing to Regret,” and “Strength to Endure” proved that I wasn’t a one-hit wonder – that I really could be a writer. “Season of Sacrifice” is the most personal to me, because it’s the true story of my ancestors. “Agent in Old Lace” was my first step out of the historical mold, so it was ground-breaking for me in its own way. I would have to say that “Secret Sisters” has brought me the most joy in the writing.

M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to
have their manuscripts become books in print?

Tristi: Keep at it, listen to constructive criticism, and never be afraid to learn and grow. There is no such thing as being the best you can be – it’s a process, and you should never stop reaching and climbing.

M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?

Tristi: You can find all of my books on Just do a search for my name and they’ll all pop up.

MB: What is something about you that no one knows?

Tristi: That's a hard question, because I'm a very open person. The only things I hide are the things that are too personal to share. Let's see ... In 1991, I spent two weeks in Russia and got home about three weeks before the coup.

MB: What's your favorite part of writing and being an author?

Tristi: I really love bringing new worlds and new ideas to life. And when it comes to the Secret Sisters, it's been so much fun to hold on to their apron strings and go along for the ride!

M.B.: Any final words you would like to share?

Tristi: I’m completely awesome and everyone should try to be just like me when they grow up. Or like Michele. Can’t go wrong either way.

Email Tristi
Tristi's Blog: Tristi Pinkston, LDS Author
Tristi's Website:
Valor’s site:
Valor’s blog: (I do a weekly Writing Tip on Tuesdays)


Friday, April 9, 2010

Interview and Giveaway Contest!!! Your chance to win "A Summer in Paris"

Here is the link for a contest to win my new book, "A Summer in Paris."

Check out this awesome web-site:

This is a picture of me with Shauna Chambers, the owner of the book-giveaway blog. She has three awesome blogs:
Trying to Stay Calm!
Seeking Sisterhood
Book Giveaways
And you can go HERE to read my interview on the blog, SUSPENSE BY ANNE.

Interview with Nancy Campbell Allen

It's such a thrill to spotlight Nancy Campbell Allen on my blog today. She is a wonderful person, an amazing writer, and a dear friend. She is smart, witty, fun and genuine. Am I gushing? It's hard not to when talking about Nancy.

Nancy Campbell Allen has been published with Covenant Communications since 1999 when her first book, Love Beyond Time, was released. Three more books soon followed, and then she wrote an award-winning,four-volume Civil War series called Faith of our Fathers, under her initials, N.C. Allen. In 2008, she released Isabelle Webb: Legend of the Jewel. The sequel, tentatively titled, Isabelle Webb: the Pharaoh's Daughter, was just accepted for publication and will be released in January of 2011.

As a young child Nancy lived in or traveled through many of the places featured in her books. She is a graduate of Weber State University and enjoys reading, writing, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. Nancy loves to read, write and run, and her favorite thing ever is to laugh with family and friends.

Here is a complete list of Nancy's books:

* Love Beyond Time
* No Time for Love
* A Time for the Heart
* Echoes
* Faith of our Fathers Vol. 1: A House Divided
* Faith of our Fathers Vol. 2: To Make Men Free
* Faith of our Fathers Vol. 3: Through the Perilous Fight
* Faith of our Fathers Vol. 4: One Nation Under God
* Isabelle Webb: Legend of the Jewel

Here is a little about Nancy's current release, Isabelle Webb: Legend of the Jewel

Former Pinkerton spy Isabelle Webb needs a vacation. The broken leg she suffered while trying to warn President Lincoln of his impending assassination has mended a little, but her grief over his death has not. She and her young charge, Sally Rhodes, have an open itinerary when they board a steamer ship to Bombay. But upon meeting Utah blacksmith James Ashby, the two women opt to join the search for his younger brother Phillip, who’s traveling abroad with the ill-reputed Thaddeus Sparks in search of a mystical treasure. Upon arrival in India, other passengers are also interested in taking up the search. But the seeming good will of some soon turns dark on the streets of Bombay. As murder and kidnapping tears the group apart, James and Isabelle race to uncover the hidden motives and harrowing connections that threaten not only Phillip’s life, but also their own. First in N.C. Allen’s new series, this tale’s cunning characters and twisting plot will wrap you tightly in the action, intrigue, and romance surrounding the Jewel of Zeus.

If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it. The setting is rich and interesting and the characters are unforgettable.

Here's my interview with Nancy.

M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Nancy: I’ve always loved to read, and dreamed about being an author when I was a kid. I never dreamed it would become a reality, though. I’m thrilled that it is.

M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?

Nancy: I was so clueless when I pursued publishing. I knew the basics, and I knew enough to get online and do some digging, but I basically made three copies of my manuscript and sent them in to three publishers.

M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?

Nancy: I was discouraged with my first two rejections, but when the book was accepted by the third publisher, it made it all worth it. Also, after I’d submitted, I followed some excellent writing advice, which was to get going right away on my next book.

M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?

Nancy: I have a preschooler at home and baby-sit my 2-year-old nephew, so I try to catch quiet pieces of time during the day when they nap, and the rest of the writing I do is at night or on weekends. I wish I could get up in the morning and write, but it would be jibberish. I’m so not a morning person!

M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is
good enough to write a book about it?

Nancy: I get ideas from all kinds of places. I imagine what kinds of jobs would be cool to have, and then play the “what if” game with it. I also pick settings I like and imagine what could be going on in those places.

M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to
have their manuscripts become books in print?

Nancy: I would say that perseverance pays off. You can’t quit, you have to keep polishing and getting feedback from trusted friends, and then submit, submit, submit. Rewrite, resubmit. Some of the most amazing authors today who are published have endured numerous rejections. You have to hang in there and never give up.

M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit
down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline

Nancy: I brainstorm like crazy. I wouldn’t call it an organized outline, but I first throw down everything I can possibly think of in a “brainstorm” section of a notebook. Every character, every plot line, every possibility. I get new directions for the book from these pages. Once I have all the sloppiness down on paper, then I go through and start to organize it in terms of what should happen first, next, etc. I like to not be too locked into an outline, though. I like having the story take directions of its own.

M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's
block? If so, how do you deal with it?

Nancy: I sit down and write. There have been bad days and good days—sometimes you need to go for a walk or find a different reference book that’ll give you more ideas for your book. For me, though, I have to make myself sit in the chair and do it. My form of “writer’s block” is largely avoidance. Writing is often hard, and it’s way easier to do the dishes or laundry or just leave the house altogether. ;-)

M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when
you are writing?

Nancy: I generally like it quiet, but I’m finding I do like something in the background these days. I’ve been doing “write nights” lately with a friend and fellow author, Josi Kilpack, and she has the radio on quietly in the background. It’s been nice.

M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?

Nancy: I draw inspiration from my research materials. I do a lot of historical fiction, so this helps a lot. I also read stuff for my own enjoyment, and writers to do the craft well are always helpful in terms of making sure I’m doing the “good work in—good work out” philosophy. I’ve heard it said that if you read garbage, you’ll write garbage. I guess we each have to define “garbage” though. One man’s trash…

M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?

Nancy: I credit my parents with instilling such a love of books and reading in me that the writing became a natural extension of that. I’m so grateful I was raised in a house full of books.

M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?

Nancy: I have only just recently joined a critique group and it’s the best thing I’ve done in a long time. It’s good to have the accountability of having new material to share and the comments and suggestions I’ve received have made a HUGE difference in my writing.

M.B.: Which of your books is your favorite, and why?

Nancy: I always say my “next book” is my favorite, because it’s still perfect in my mind. That said, though, I really like my 3rd book, A Time for the Heart, and my current Isabelle Webb series is really fun…then there’s the Civil War series…Wow. It’s too hard to choose!

M.B.: Any final words you would like to share?

Nancy: I’m always touched when people write or email to tell me they’ve liked my books. It’s humbling and gratifying and makes me feel so good! Writing is a lonely business, and as readers we make writing worthwhile. It’s all well and good if I write because I love it, and I do, but if nobody reads it then it’s just me in my own little world with nobody to share it. I love readers!

M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?

Nancy: My books are available wherever LDS books are sold, and up and down the Wasatch Front in Utah, those are plentiful. Online, though, Deseret Book, Seagull Books and Amazon are all good choices. You can also keep up with Nancy on her blog,