Friday, September 24, 2010

Interview with Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen, author of "TRAPPED" and enter to WIN A AUTOGRAPHED COPY of her book!

Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen was born and raised in Rexburg, Idaho. She received her Associates Degree in English from Ricks College and studied writing at Weber State University and Utah State University. Her hobbies are music and reading, and her numerous magazine and internet writing credits include fiction and nonfiction published by The Friend, New Era, Ensign, Guideposts for Kids, Class Act, and She maintains two blogs, and, contributes to a few other blogs, and enjoys teaching about writing and speaking in various venues. An earlier version of her second novel, TRAPPED, won first place in the League of Utah Writers 2009, full-length novel contest.

What the book is about. . .

A forged letter, a golden vial, an ancient curse...

Her expression remained somber, but excitement crept into her voice. "You are the Firstborn She...You must go to them."
"You want me to act as bait?"
"Not bait, Emi. A spy. Our Trojan horse."

When Emi Warrin wakes one night to find a thief in her mother's house, she has no idea the intruder has planted a trap - a mysterious letter that will change her life forever. Lured to the Austrian Alps with Daniel, the man she loves, Emi is thrown into a perilous, mafia-like world of feuding families and a devastating curse that spans generations. As the Firstborn She - the only firstborn female in hundreds of years - only Emi can free her family from the curse that will soon afflict her as well. But for Emi to break the curse, she must delve into evil designs.

As Emi struggles to understand her destiny as the Firstborn She, she learns that everything isn't as it seems and that all choices have consequences. Can Emi break the curse before it's too late?

I enjoyed Ronda's book tremendously. She's a gifted author and storyteller. This book will keep you on the edge of your seat and up all night!

I had a chance to interview Ronda. I learned some interesting things about her and thought you'd enjoy getting to know Ronda better.

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

Ronda: I was in the 6th grade. My teacher was reading S.E. Hinton’s THE OUTSIDERS to the class, and when she reached the section where Johnny urged Ponyboy to stay “gold” I realized I wanted to write "golden” words just as Hinton had. More than that, I wanted those words to encourage the "golden"—the goodness—in others.

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

Ronda: I received my first writing job when I was attending Ricks College. I was a script writer for their classical radio station. Not only did I write the information to be read over the air about the music that was about to be played, but I also got to write some of the advertising promos. It was a really good experience. After I graduated from Ricks College, I attended other college classes and writers conferences, but along the way, I wrote for magazines, especially the LDS church mags.

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

Ronda: First, the drive inside me that says writing is something I must do, but close to it is the knowledge that I’m working to add goodness to the world.

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

Ronda: Like I indicated before, HARD WORK. After that, it was submitting to and being published in magazines. I had small children at the time, so I thought if I wrote short stories and articles I could begin to build my name while I learned my craft. After about 15 years of doing that, I decided I was ready to write a full-length novel. I started by creating a critique group with Josi Kilpack and a few other ladies and buying a book on novel structure. It took me three years to write MISSING, my first novel, and another year and a half to find a publisher. Walnut Springs Press was the third publisher I submitted it to.

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

Ronda: I was discouraged from time to time, but because I was always writing and submitting something, when I received a rejection, I still had hope because I had something else out there. I also received good feedback and a few acceptances along the way.

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

Ronda: I used to believe that my best writing time was from 10 a.m. to noon or so. Now, life is so crazy I write whenever I get the chance, usually in the evening.

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

Ronda: Ideas come from everywhere. I think of them as floating around in the sky, waiting for someone to grab onto them. Sometimes more than one person grabs onto the same idea. In fact, while I was in the submission process with my first novel, MISSING, I came across a website where someone had expressed the idea for a novel that was very similar to MISSING. Even the characters had the same names. I couldn’t believe it! But overall, the book idea I think is good enough to write about is the one that excites me. The “what if” that makes me want to find out what happens next.

M.B.: MISSING is about a young woman who finds and rescues a missing child. What is TRAPPED about?

Ronda: TRAPPED’s about a sheltered, twenty-three-year-old who only wants to get out on her own, but after a series of terrifying events, beginning with waking to find a thief in her home, she learns she must travel to the Austrian Alps and act as a spy within a mafia-like society in order to destroy a horrifying family curse only she can end.

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

Ronda: TRAPPED is the result of two vivid yet very different dreams I had a couple of years ago. The first involved a child caught in a deadly trap and the second portrayed a fantastical scene of sacrifice, complete with character motivations. It ultimately became the basis for TRAPPED’s finale.

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

Ronda: Several things. As far as messages go, I hope readers will realize there is a great deal of goodness inside them that they haven’t yet found, and that we are each capable of destroying/ending the “evil” traditions in our families. Beyond that, I hope the reader enjoys their experience with TRAPPED and is caught by surprise a few times. There are two things I really love: surprising people and touching their hearts. ☺

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 first?

Ronda: Both. I initially gather ideas as they come to me in a notebook, and then I begin to outline the important points of the story. I absolutely have to know my beginning and my ending or I can’t write. However, as I write from point to point, a lot of “waiting to see what happens” takes place.

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?

Ronda: Definitely! And the best way I’ve found to get out of that snag is to take my problem to my critique group and let them help me brainstorm my way out of it. They are wonderful and invaluable!

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

Ronda: I prefer quiet. I can write with other stuff going on, but it’s a much slower process.

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

Ronda: Scriptures, words of wisdom from great thinkers, movies, other books. Oh, and dreams. ☺

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

Ronda: Other than deity, I’d have to say it was Dorla Jenkins, my creative writing teacher at Ricks College. She both taught me important principles and made me believe in my ability to succeed as a writer.

M.B.: What’s your secret to making the characters in your books come to life?

Ronda: I picture someone else, either a real person or a fictional one (like from a movie), who is similar in some way to the characters in my book, and then I imagine them—their actions, their speech patterns, etc.—in my story. For instance, if you’ve seen the old BBC version of Jane Austen’s EMMA, you might recognize a bit of Emma’s father in my character from TRAPPED—Oliver.

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

Ronda: As I mentioned before, I rely on my critique group. We meet weekly, and most of what we do is help each other with story structure.

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

Ronda: I love both TRAPPED and MISSING for different reasons. TRAPPED, in my opinion, is the better written novel and requires more careful reading to “catch” some of the suspense and symbolism, but MISSING hits such an emotional chord in my readers that I can’t help but be grateful I had the opportunity to write it. But the books I’m working on now—are what REALLY excites me at the moment. Perhaps my favorite book will always be the one I’m working on? Only time will tell.

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

Ronda: If you have a dream, whatever it is, go for it. But most of all, hold onto the greatness inside you. The world needs you.

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

Ronda: If you’re an online shopper, the easiest place is to go to my website at because I have direct links there. But you can order them at sites like,, and But for those of you who want to hold the book first, they’re also available in Deseret Book, Seagull, and other LDS bookstores.

To win a copy of Ronda's book:

1 ENTRY - post a comment to this blog post
1 ENTRY - follow my blog
1 ENTRY - vist Ronda's blog and leave a comment
1 ENTRY - follow me on FACEBOOK
1 ENTRY - join my NETWORKED blogs

Winner will be announced October 1st.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Stone Traveler, by Kathi Oram Peterson

Before I talk about the book, let's meet the author, Kathi Oram Peterson. She grew up in the small town of Rigby, Idaho. She says this about growing up in Rigby, "I love my hometown where the drug store still has a soda fountain and where people wave hello to strangers." Just hearing that makes me want to visit. Her road to getting published took "years and years and years," according to Kathi. But along the way she won a few contests, earned her English degree, and finally sold her book, The Forgotten Warrior, in 2008. This young-adult, time-travel was released in January of 2009. Then in late fall of that year her Christmas book, An Angel on Main Street, came out. Her new book, The Stone Traveler, was released in August 2010.

In 2011 she will release a romantic suspense novel. The working title for this book is River Whispers. It’s set in the fictional town of Trailhead, a small town next to a fictional national park that also named Trailhead. The protagonist, hot-tempered, but kind-hearted Regina Bernard, finds a dead man in river willows as she's fishing. Panicked, she immediately searches for the sheriff and tells him. But she didn’t know that the investigation would turn toward her, that someone would try to kill her, or that she’d once again find love with the man who had broken her heart when she was young.

That sounds like my kind of book and I can't wait to get my hands on it. In the meantime, I want to tell you about The Stone Traveler.

From the back of the book:
Sixteen-year-ol Tag can’t believe he’s in this much trouble. He’s not actually a member of the gang known as the Primes—all he did was spray paint some graffiti that caught their attention. In all honesty, every since his dad and brother left, Tag just wants to be alone. And it’s certainly not his fault that the Primes nearly beat up his goofy cousin, Ethan. But his mom is furious about these gang-related activities and insists that Tag spend the whole summer at his grandpa’s lakeside cabin, which is not Tag’s idea of a good time. So he does what any self-respecting teenager would do: run away. But he doesn’t get far before he encounters three strange men carrying an even stranger object— a stone that glows with radiant light as bright as a thousand sparklers.

Tag doesn’t steal the stone—not exactly. He feels like he is supposed to take it. But he doesn’t expect the stone to transport him through space and time to a place he’s never seen before—a place that looks an awful lot like the ancient lands described in the Book of Mormon. And he definitely doesn’t expect to join Sabirah, the entrancing daughter of Samuel the Lamanite, on a quest to rescue her father and brother from the evil King Jacob. And he absolutely doesn’t expect to be captured by Jacob’s minions and prepared as a sacrifice to the evil idol of the city. But just as Tag faces his death, a terrible storm begins to break, and the ground cracks into jagged pieces. And he’s not sure which event will impact his life more: his captor’s knife coming at his body, the violent tempest sweeping the land . . . or the men who later appear, glowing even more brightly than the traveler’s stone.

This story is geared toward a YA audience, but I guarantee that adults will love it just as much. Kathi is a very visual writer and her stories really come to life. She knows how to balance just the right amount of description, action and dialogue to create a well-paced story that keeps your interest from the very first page.
In The Stone Traveler we meet Tag who is struggling to make sense out of things that have happened in his life, challenges that have caused him to doubt his faith in God.

His mom sends him to live with his grandfather and cousin for the summer in hopes that he will make changes in his life and turn away from friends and activities that keep getting him into trouble. But Tag has other plans. He devises a plan to runaway and meets a stranger while he's scoping out the bus departure times. Brushing off the meeting he continues with his plans and sneaks out of his grandfather's house only to get caught in a downpour. Luckily he finds shelter in a rundown cabin and is startled when three men come inside, one of the, the man he met the day before while looking at the bus schedule.

Quickly his world turns upside and he finds himself smack dab in the middle of the Book of Mormon, with a girl named Sabirah, who claims she's been waiting for him. Her father, Samuel prophesied that a wayfarer would come to help her when she needed him most.

Thus begins Tag's journey into the Book of Mormon. But his experience goes beyond wars and evil King's and false idols. It is here that he finds the answers to his questions, and peace to his soul.

This is a beautiful story that makes the scriptures come alive and will bring hours of enjoyment.

Congratulations Kathi!

To read more about Kathi and her books go HERE.


*I do not receive any money for my posts. I do however receive the review products at no charge to evaluate and express my opinion.*

Monday, September 6, 2010

WINNER OF $50.00 VISA gift card giveaway announced!



The winner needs to email me at micheleabell at gmail dot com to confirm.

Thanks to all of you who supported the contest and worked so hard to qualify. I will do another contest in April when my next book is released, so keep following and again, thank you!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Angela Morrison, author of Taken by Storm

Poet and novelist, Angela Morrison, writes heartfelt YA love stories. She is the author of TAKEN BY STORM (Penguin/Razorbill 2009), it’s newly release sequel, UNBROKEN CONNECTION (2011), and SING ME TO SLEEP (Penguin/Razorbill 2010). She graduated from Brigham Young University and holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She grew up in Eastern Washington on the wheat farm where TAKEN BY STORM is set. After over a decade abroad in Canada, Switzerland and Singapore, she and her family are happily settled in Mesa, AZ. Angela enjoys speaking to writers and readers of all ages about her craft. She's visited almost 50 schools since TAKEN BY STORM’s release where she involves students in her creative process as they search for the perfect teen heroine and . . . the guy. She has four children--mostly grown up--and the most remarkable grandson in the universe.

I was able to interview this super cool lady and found out some fascinating things out about her that I think you'd enjoy. Here is my interview with Angela:

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

Angela: First grade. In kindergarten I wanted to be a vet and have a hundred cats. Then I learned how to write. Probably a good thing, because I outgrew the cat thing when they started attacking me. Word to the wise, don’t make sudden movements around a sleeping Tom cat.

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

Angela: I have a bachelor of arts in English from Brigham Young University and a Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. I’ve been writing full-time since I graduated in 2004.

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

Angela: I am miserable when I’m not doing it. To me writing is a vocation. I feel powerfully that this is what I should be doing. When readers write and say my books touched them in a special way, it makes all the hard work, self-doubt, and frustration worth it. I was passionate about writing before I had readers. Now, that feeling is even stronger.

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

Angela: Cue the Beattles—“The Long and Winding Road.” It took me three and a half long hard years of rejection after I completed by MFA to finally land a contract with Razorbill. I got a lot of encouragement—one publisher read four different drafts of TAKEN BY STORM before she turned it down for good. I met my editor, Lexa Hillyer, at a SCBWI in an beautiful abbey north of Paris. We were living in Switzerland at the time. I had a 20 minute conference with her—went home and rewrote the first chapter so she’d fall in love with Michael. And it worked. She requested the full. A month later I’d signed with Penguin’s teen imprint, Razorbill, for two books.

I published two YA novels with them—TAKEN BY STORM and SING ME TO SLEEP. When Lexa left Razorbill to start her own company, my sequel to TAKEN BY STORM, UNBROKEN CONNECTION got stranded. So I just released it as an ebook for Kindle, and we’re planning a paperback release, too.

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

Angela: Yup. Every rejection hurts. It was especially tough when I rewrote the entire novel in a different voice for one editor and she still didn’t like it. I rewrote it again for her. Still a “no.” At that point, my book was broken. I couldn’t recognize it. I sat back and asked myself, “What do I want this novel to be? How do I want it shaped? What voices? What scenes?” That’s when I decided to collage TAKEN BY STORM. I’d already come up with Michael’s dive logs—and felt they were the best thing I had. I took out all of the internet chats and put them back in as dive log transcripts. Leesie’s voice was still a problem. I tried writing a few of the scenes she narrated as poems. She was always a poet. Voila. That worked.

I think it’s important to mourn rejections and setbacks. They are a loss and painful like anything else. But use them—glean what you can from the experience and get back to work.

Lexa left Razorbill a few days before my second novel, SING ME TO SLEEP, released. That was really tough. I think I’m still working through that. SING ME TO SLEEP no longer had a champion in the company and they turned down the sequel to TAKEN BY STORM. It helped to have readers and bloggers who begged me to find a way to bring them the rest of Michael and Leesie’s story. My most devoted fans downloaded UNBROKEN CONNECTION as soon as it went live and stayed up all night reading it.

All I can really do is put my trust in a power much wiser than I am and follow where that leads.

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

Angela: I try to write full-time. But I’m rotten at multi-tasking, so if I’m in the middle of a project everything else falls apart. If I’m doing PR or trying to be a mom or look after paying bills and stuff like that, I can’t write.

Ideally, I wake up with scenes playing in my head, grab my lap desk and scribble until my hand hurts and the dialogue runs dry. I soak in the tub, drink some OJ, and stumble to my desk where I type up the roughs scenes, revising as I go until I glance at the clock and realize I’m 20 minutes late again to pick up my son.

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

Angela: When I’m writing a novel, it feels like a tidal wave hit my life. It takes everything I’ve ever done, known, read, listened to, imagined, dreamed, learned, questioned, feared or got excited about, breaks it up into a thousand pieces, and leaves it scattered all over the sand when it withdraws. I have to wander around and pick up the pieces trying to fashion them into the mosaic of my story.

If an idea sticks with me, keeps coming back, haunts me, I have to write about it. I don’t know if it’s “good enough.” Wouldn’t it be nice to have that magic formula? I don’t think anyone really knows what readers will be dying for next. Thousands and thousands of us are huddling over our computer trying hard to create that.

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

Angela: With my first book, TAKEN BY STORM, my husband and I were scuba diving off the coast of Cozumel when we heard that a hurricane had hit just to the south of us in Belize the evening before. A boat full of divers got caught and most of them perished. I kept thinking, what if a teenage boy was on that boat, his parents died, but he survived. Where would he go? What would he do? And who would love him? I decided to send him to my home town in Eastern Washington, make him live with his Gram in my grandmother’s old house, send him to my old high school, and give the only Mormon girl in town a huge crush on him.

My daughter sang with a competitive girl’s choir when we lived in London, Ontario. I got to travel to festivals with them, and always wanted to set a novel in that unique world. When I had to come up with an entirely new concept for my second novel with Razorbill, I turned backed to that setting. I’d never had a strong story to put there, but something tragic had recently happened to one of my daughter’s best friend’s in their world famous young men’s choir. That gave me a story that took hold of me and didn’t let go until it was slicked up and revised and sent off to my editor. I had a lot of help from unseen hands as I wrote that book. I’m grateful I was blessed with that experience. It’s one I will always cherish.

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

Angela: I leave that up to the readers. I write about wounded characters trying to find love and grow up. I try to make it as complex and realistic as I can. I think every reader leaves with something different.

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

Angela: The best, best tool is morning pages—as described in THE ARTIST WAY. I brain-dump, scribble whatever comes out—dialogue, plot summaries, character backgrounds. Whatever is up there spills out on the page. I don’t outline. Even when I’ve thought about a story for months—even years—the writing process always surprises me. Those characters have minds of their own. I’ve learned to follow them, throw obstacles in their way, and listen to their hearts and mine.

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?

Angela: Oh, yeah. We all do. When I’ve got a scene I’ve been avoiding—usually something with a lot of powerful emotions in it, I write an “assignment” at the top of a piece of paper (or print out the spot where it fits in), put it beside my bed, and when I wake up in the morning, I have to pick up the page and write it. I tell myself it can be awful. That’s why we revise.

Listening to music helps, too. I pay attention to lyrics more and more. I had to write them for SING ME TO SLEEP, so I actually began studying lyrics.

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

Angela: I listen to music before and after. I do work best in the quiet, but I can write in a house full of people running around doing their thing while I do mine.

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

Angela: I go back to all those pieces a lot. When “what I know” runs dry, I research. Whenever we travel, I take a camera and take lots of pictures. Those help. So does Google Earth, websites—I’ve even used realtor websites to find houses for my characters to live in. I LOVE to visit high schools. I convince the students to tell me all about their schools. That gives me all kinds of inspiration. I also PRAY constantly when I’m working on a project. Spiritual inspiration is no different than artistic inspiration—it all comes from the same Creator.

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

Angela: I fell in love with Louisa Mae Alcott as a little kid. I wanted to be her. Now, I’d like to be Katherine Paterson when I grow up. I learned so much from studying her novels and all the generous articles she’s written for writers. My graduate thesis and lecture was titled, “From Faith to Fiction: Lessons from Katherine Paterson.” She is full of wisdom and freely shares it.

M.B.: What’s your secret to making the character’s in your books come to life?

Angela: I have to hear their voice in my head. I try to scribble that down as it comes out. That makes them real to me. And I try to translate that for my readers.

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

Angela: I never really had a critique group close enough to make it work. I have friends from my MFA program that I swap novels with. They are amazing help. And I love critiquing their work. I’ve just recently joined an ANWA critique group and look forward to that experience.

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

Angela: My favorite novel is still looking for a publisher. It’s inspired by my ancestor’s, The Glovers, Scots coal miners who emigrated to Canada to open mines in Nova Scotia in the early 19th century. It’s told from the viewpoint of their teenage son, Will, who has to leave the lass he loves behind in Scotland. It’s called MY ONLY LOVE and my critiquers tell me it’s my best novel. I adore historical fiction. I hope we find a home for it soon.

M.B.: What is something about yourself people don’t know?

Angela: I wear pink ballet shoes instead of slippers.

M.B.: I wish we had a picture of this. I love that image. What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?

Angela: Anything made out of white chocolate.

M.B.: I'm a white chocolate lover also. In fact, my current obsession is mini-white chocolate-Reeses peanut butter cups. YUMMO! Sorry, back tot he interview. What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?

Angela: Do whatever it takes to professionalize yourself. I know not everyone can go back to school and get an MFA. Not everyone has to. But join writing groups—like SCBWI for children’s and YA writers or ANWAY, go to conferences, take local courses at bookstores, libraries, community colleges or universities. Join online forums. There is so much out there on the internet these days. Study it all. Read tons of published books in the genre you want to publish. And write as much as you possibly can. Don’t ever think your book is done. Keep revising until your editor pries it out of your hands and sends it to the printers. Check out my blog for writers—go to and click on liv2writ.

M.B.: What are you working on now?

Angela: I’m in the middle of releasing UNBROKEN CONNECTION so that’s center stage right now. I’ve got critiques for a time travel novel I’ve turned upside down waiting for me to read. This novel is so different from anything I’ve done before. Think Jane Eyre meets the Terminator in Medieval Europe—but my assassin is WAY hotter than a robot. My latest title for it is SLIPPED.

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

Angela: My new motto is “no” isn’t the end of the road. It’s just an opportunity to explore a new path.

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

Angela: My Penguin titles are available everywhere you like to buy books. UNBROKEN CONNECTION is only available via Amazon’s Kindle at this writing (August 2010). You can find links from my website,