Victoria Bylin – Authorview

Victoria Bylin

 Welcome, Victoria!

I am:  Victoria Bylin
My best trait:   Loyalty
My bad habit:   Ugh. It’s kind of gross.  Picking at my dry cuticles. 
Qualities I admire:   Courage.  Endurance in the face of trials.  Generosity.  A good sense of humor.  (I think I just described my husband!)
What I like to read:    Inspirational romance, both contemporary and historical.  My favorite devotional is My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers. I’ll occasionally read Dick Francis, Lawrence Block, Michael Connelly and other “crime” writers. It’s a nice change.
What I write:  Currently: contemporary inspirational romance. In the past: western historicals
What I watch:  Very little, though I’ve gotten hooked on Dancing With The Stars. 
My family:  Married to my husband for 34 years. Two sons, both married.  Two adorable granddaughters–twins!  
My favorite food, snack, or beverage:  Pistachios.
What I love to do:  Write. Chat with friends. Take in the Kentucky skies. 
What I admire:   Blessed are the peacemakers.  
What makes me happy:  Sunrises. 
What makes me sad:  Violence. 
I believe:  I’m a Christian. The story is on my website under “Personal Journey.”  

Victoria Bylin is a romance writer known for her realistic and relatable characters. Her books have finaled in multiple contests, including the Carol Awards, the RITAs, and RT Magazine’s Reviewers Choice Award. A native of California, she and her husband now make their home in Lexington, Kentucky, where their family and their crazy Jack Russell terrier keep them on the go.

Learn more at victoriabylin.com or find her at one of the links below:


Hallee Bridgeman – Authorview

Welcome to Authorview! For the next few months, I’m going to post an interview with a different author every Tuesday. The questions are always the same, but their answers will sometimes be vastly different, and so much fun!
 

Hallee Bridgeman

Welcome, Hallee!

Nickname or “wannabe” name (If you don’t have a nickname, you can choose one you’d like, that tells us a little bit about who you are): I was Hallee the Homemaker for years. Now I transition between Hallee the Homemaker and Hallee the Storyteller. And Mom.
I am: Blessed in ways I cannot even express.
My best trait: I quickly analyze and come to solutions to problems.
My bad habit: I interrupt people. Because I’ve already quickly analyzed what they’re going to say. (see above)
Qualities I admire: Honesty. Integrity. Cleverness.
What I like to read: Cookbooks. The older the better. I have one written in old English. It’s really hard to understand.
What I write: Christian fiction – romance, suspense, historical (WWII).
What I watch: Campy action.
My family: Pretty much rocks. My kids are clever and fun. My husband is my solid rock.
My favorite food, snack, or beverage: Cake. Which leads to other problems considering my sedentary job.
What I love to do: Go to the movies.
What I admire: Heroes – people who risk all for the life or liberty of others.
What makes me happy: Feeding my family and friends.
What makes me sad: The helplessness in poverty.

I believe: That I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.


Hallee Bridgeman is a best-selling Christian author who writes action-packed romantic suspense focusing on realistic characters who face real world problems. Her work has been described as everything from refreshing to heart-stopping exciting and edgy.

An Army brat turned Floridian, Hallee finally settled in central Kentucky with her family so that she could enjoy the beautiful changing of the seasons. She enjoys the roller-coaster ride thrills that life with a National Guard husband, a teenaged daughter, and two elementary aged sons delivers.
A prolific writer, when she’s not penning novels, she blogs about all things cooking and homemaking at Hallee the Homemaker(tm) (http://www.halleethehomemaker.com). Her passion for cooking spurred her to launch a whole food, real food “Parody” cookbook series. In addition to nutritious, Biblically grounded recipes, readers will find that each cookbook also confronts some controversial aspect of secular pop culture.

Hallee is a member of the Published Author Network (PAN) of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) where she serves as a long time board member in the Faith, Hope, & Love chapter. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the American Christian Writers (ACW) as well as being a member of Novelists, Inc. (NINC).

Hallee loves coffee, campy action movies, and regular date nights with her husband. Above all else, she loves God with all of her heart, soul, mind, and strength; has been redeemed by the blood of Christ; and relies on the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide her. She prays her work here on earth is a blessing to you and would love to hear from you. You can reach Hallee at hallee@bridgemanfamily.com

Temperance’s Trial
Release date: September 15, 2014
Now available for preorder
Marie Gilbert flees France after the Gestapo arrest her father. In London, Marie is recruited into an experimental all-female cohort dubbed the Virtues, a collection of seven extraordinary women with highly specialized skills.

Known only by her code name, TEMPERANCE, she is trained to operate a wireless radio and returns to her beloved France. As the H-hour to execute a daring mission draws near, Marie plays a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with the unrelenting and merciless young Nazi forces that surround her.


Writerly Connections

I haven’t really gone fishing. Not in the usual sense. 

As a writer, I need to make connections. One of the best ways to do that, is to attend conferences. You meet all sorts of people at writers conferences. Of course you meet lots of writers from the novice to the expert, unpublished, published, multi-published. You meet agents, editors, publishers, teachers, speakers, and everything in between.

I attended my first writers conference in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, several years ago. Excited and more than a little nervous, I walked into a classroom and sat down. After it started, I realized I was in the wrong class, but the speaker was so funny and interesting, I decided to stay. And besides, there was chocolate.

After that, I attended every class she taught. Ginny Smith, author of numerous novels in several genres, became my first “writerly” connection. Ginny encouraged me to keep working. She suggested I join a writing organization that offered critique loops where I could meet other beginning writers and improve my craft.

But most important of all, Ginny became a friend. There were others along the way, who also encouraged me to keep working at my writing. I met Fay Lamb on the main critique loop at ACFW. She encouraged me to form my own group, where I met my long-time crit partner, Amy Blake.

After a while, Amy got busy with home-schooling and other responsibilities, and had to move on. I joined two other small groups and met Nike Chillemi and Jennifer Hallmark. Nike (AKA Crime Fictionista) is a constant encourager, and in return, I get to read her crime/suspense stories in progress. Jennifer and I work together on a blog she started with another of our critique loop members, Christina Rich (Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My!).

As I got to know Fay Lamb better, we discovered so many “odd” coincidences in our lives, we’ve decided we’re long-lost siblings. And yes, “odd” is the correct word. She even named her latest dog “Audrey.” Another weird coincidence, since my middle name is Audrie. By the time many of you read this post, I hope to have met Fay, face-to-face for the first time. Ever. But we have so much in common, will it seem we’ve known each other much longer?

Fay linked me up with Tracy Ruckman of Write Integrity Press. I was invited to contribute to a multi-author novella published this past February–A Dozen Apologies–a humorous “caper” of a romance. Jennifer Hallmark also worked on that novella. What fun we had. I’ll also meet Tracy this weekend. Later this year, Write Integrity Press will publish my novel, Amelia’s Legacy, the first of three in the Legacy Series.

At a local gathering of authors, I met Hallee Bridgeman and her husband, Gregg. Hallee is busy making quite a splash in the Indie publishing market. I had self-published a couple of fantasy-adventure novels several years ago. They lacked “pizazz” — Hallee and Gregg helped me get them spruced up. I’m working on some final details that will (huge sigh of relief) make me proud of those two books. I could not have done this on my own. God knows exactly what we need, and when we need it. Along comes the connection at the precise moment of need.

Are you beginning to see the pattern here? Of connections made over the years, one after another? Though many times, I’ve been tempted to give up, I kept moving forward, and now I’m a published author. I’m still attending conferences, because you still need to make those connections.

I have worldwide connections now, as my connections multiply.

We cross-publicize, pray for one another, encourage one another in the craft of writing and in life. What greater pleasure is there? So dear reader, are you discouraged, thinking you’ll never make it? Have you done everything possible to improve your craft? Have you put yourself out there? Found and attended local groups and conferences?

Life is a series of connections, both public and private, whatever field or calling is yours. Where you are right now came as a result of some sort of connection.

I thank God for all my connections. I’ve met wonderful people along the way, who took the time to express encouragement to a newbie. I learned from some of the best among them. Never forget, you may be someone else’s most important connection.

“Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” Philippians 2: 2-4, The Message

photo credit: Sifter via photopin cc

Tracy Ruckman, Publisher


Tracy Ruckman is publisher, writer, wife, and mom. She earned her bachelor’s degree in May 2014 and is now pursuing an MFA in Screenwriting. When she’s not working, studying, or writing, she likes to eat, sleep, cook, and explore.
One question I didn’t ask Tracy is, how in the world do you keep up? 
I am so grateful she set aside some time to answer my questions. I hope you enjoy her interview, check out her websites, and please feel free to ask her a question of your own in the comment section of this blog post. I’m sure she’ll be glad to answer.

1.       Why did you decide to start your own publishing company?
In 2009, my husband was forced into early retirement. We knew we needed to do something big and bold, so after lots of prayer and discussion I decided to go back to school. As I enrolled, I realized that the publishing industry had just taken a huge turn, and now was an excellent time for both authors and entrepreneurs. 
2.       How did you begin? (Research? Study? Jump in and learn along the way?)
In 2008, Jeff Gerke had launched Marcher Lord Press, and his publishing model intrigued me. I corresponded with him for a while, asking a lot of questions to determine whether this was something I could do with a different focus. Jeff published sci-fi/fantasy/spec fiction, and I wanted to publish other genres. We first opened Pix-N-Pens publishing, with a focus on evangelical books. Then a manuscript arrived that didn’t have a strong evangelical message, but the story was exceptional. I sent a rejection, although I really didn’t want to send it – I wanted to publish the book! Tim and I talked about it, and I decided to open a second imprint – Write Integrity Press – to have the ability to publish quality books that don’t necessarily have a gospel message, but that are still clean and wholesome. I then contacted the author I’d previously rejected, Jennifer Fromke, and was delighted to learn that her manuscript, Docking, was still available. We changed the title and A Familiar Shore became WIP’s first novel. 
As of this writing, we’ve now published 32 books in print and/or digital formats.
3.       What are some of the obstacles you have encountered?
Where do I begin? LOL! The enemy – satan – does not like our work. We’ve learned to recognize some of the attacks we face – his demons seem to hit all of us, publisher and authors – on a regular basis. From wacky computer issues to household disruptions (busted water lines, blown fuses, leaky roofs, etc) to wayward children to major storms (two tornadoes hit our house four days apart last summer, and there had never been a tornado in our area ever before!), we usually see an increase in life disturbances right before a major book launch. There have been so many, it’s almost become laughable (except for the one being hardest hit), so we call out the prayer warriors and push through.
Marketing has been another obstacle. We have some really excellent books, but getting the word out to more than just the hundreds of thousands of connections we have on Facebook and Twitter is proving to be a challenge. We’ve had some fun events in previous years that have helped generate buzz, but we’re ready for the next level now, so that’s what I’m working toward this summer. We’re still fairly small, and the business isn’t supporting itself yet. So our marketing efforts can’t be too costly – and that just presents the ever-familiar Catch-22 of needing money to make money. 
My health has also posed its own set of problems in the past two years. If anyone had told me that approaching menopause would cause all the problems I’ve had, I might have rethought both school and publishing. But I push through. And thank God for iron supplements, protein bars, and B-12. 
4.       How do you stand out from other small publishers?
I’d like to think it’s because we treat our authors like family. We all work together as a team to market each other, and we pray for, support, and encourage one another. From the reader’s perspective, we may be different because we publish clean and wholesome books. I want readers to know they’re “safe” when reading our books. 
5.       Everyone always likes to share their horror stories, so let’s go another way. What has been your greatest blessing since you started your publishing company?
Watching our authors grow and blossom. I work with some of the finest writers in the industry, and to be a small part in their writing dreams being realized is a huge blessing. I have a deep, deep desire to help them realize even bigger dreams. We’ve just got to get there. 

Thanks, Tracy! 
You can find more information about Tracy Ruckman and her companies at these websites:

Pix-N-Pens Publishing – www.PixNPens.com
Write Integrity Press – www.WriteIntegrity.com

A Writer’s Life–In Pursuit of Dreams–Ann Gabhart


Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.–Harriet Tubman

I’m finishing out the month of March and my “Dreams” theme with a writer who continually inspires me to dream. She makes it look easy, but I know it’s not. It’s hard work and she’s never been afraid of that. Every time I’ve been privileged to hear her speak, I know dreams can come true. They may not be the big, overblown dreams that garner the media’s attention, but I never wanted to be a meteor. I want to be the twinkling star that lasts. Kind of like Ann Gabhart.

1.   Would you consider yourself a dreamer?

Ann: There are so many ways to be a dreamer. You can be a dreamy dreamer and maybe walk around in a fog all the time. You can be a focused dreamer and fix your eyes on a goal in that dream and reach for the stars. Or you can be a Walter Mitty type dreamer and just have fun imagining adventures.
Probably, over the years, I’ve been all those types of dreamers. I certainly dreamed of being a writer when I was a kid and imagined my stories finding their way into readers’ hands. Then, as I got older, I tried to figure out ways to make those dreams come true. My dreams became my goals. I didn’t just say someday I want to be a writer. I wanted to be a published writer right then. It took a few years of working toward that dream, but I did see it come to reality. I’m still dreaming now. I think it’s important to keep dreaming. And of course, I think I’ve always been the Walter Mitty type and enjoyed living in my dreams and turning them into stories. 
 

2.   Daydreams or night dreams? How else do you come up with ideas? 

Ann: I do dream at night and did a pile of daydreaming when I was a kid. I don’t daydream as much now unless you count writing fiction as a working daydream. I often dream elaborate adventures when I’m sleeping, but even though I can remember that the dreams were very involved, the actual happenings in the dreams vanish once I open my eyes and get out of bed. A few times, when something has jerked me out of sleep in the middle of a vivid dream, I’ve wanted to hit a pause button so I can rejoin the dream when I go back to sleep. That never happens. I just plunge into a whole new dream.
That question about coming up with ideas can be answered in dozens of ways because ideas come from so many sources. Everything a writer experiences, remembers, reads about, or imagines can inspire an idea. Even other people’s memories can be the idea instigator as my mother’s stories of growing up during the Depression years were the idea beginnings for my book, Angel Sister. That story led to my other Rosey Corner books, Small Town Girl and Love Comes Home (releasing in July). On the other hand, my own memories of growing up in a small rural town were the inspiration for my 1960’s setting in my Heart of Hollyhill books, Scent of Lilacs, Orchard of Hope and Summer of Joy. Then my Shaker books were inspired by the Shaker village near my house and the many historical accounts I’ve read of their Society.
Research can light a creative fire and make ideas spring up in my mind. That’s how Words Spoken True came about. When I read about the dramatic events in 1855 Louisville, I wanted to drop my characters down into that era and see what happened next. And then, of course, sometimes I just dream up an idea with no idea of where in the world it came from. Wes and his Jupiter stories in the Heart of Hollyhill series were like that. He just showed up in Scent of Lilacs. A gift, but who knows from where? Jupiter perhaps?  
 

3.   What steps do you take to bring your dreams to life?

Ann: If you mean my dream to write and be published, then the steps I took were writing and more writing and never giving up even when I was walking through rejection valley. I just kept writing. I kept trying to tell a better story. I kept bringing characters to life in my imagination. I kept researching for story ideas. And I kept reading to grow my familiarity with words and stories.
The first book I wrote was a gothic romance. That got me the interest of an agent, but she said gothics were a waning genre and why didn’t I write a historical romance? And so I did. I took the step of being willing to try something different. I’ve done that throughout my writing career. I’ve written in several different genres for both adults and kids. When one thing wasn’t working for me, I tried something new.
Now I try to be continually working on a new idea, a new story. And I’m still dreaming about writing a story everybody wants to read and that lands on the New York Times Bestseller list. Wouldn’t that be something? A person needs to dream big and to look forward with new goals.
I love this quote from Michelangelo. “The greatest danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.”
I want to aim high and not limit my dreams.  

4.   Filling in the middle: How do you keep yourself moving forward?

Ann: I’ve always been a goal setter with my writing. In the beginning, it was just to write something every day. When I was a young mother with very little free time, I found that keeping a writing journal helped me stay focused and accountable. Too many days with no entry of time spent writing would make me try harder to find those extra hours needed to move toward my goal of completing a story or whatever project I was writing. Then later, after I began to concentrate on writing novels, I set goals of when I wanted to have the book completed. I made my own deadlines as a way to motivate myself to write and move forward with my stories. That doesn’t mean I’ve always met my goals. Often, I did not. Life happens and there is always something going on to pull you away from your desk when you have a family. But at the same time, I didn’t give up even when time to write was hard to come by. I just set new personal deadlines for my writing goals. Now I have contracts for my books with publisher imposed deadlines that keep my fingers on the keyboard.
While goals and deadlines can help you stay on track, they don’t make the writing any easier. With most every story, I hit what I call the writing doldrums somewhere along the way when I wonder if the story is worth writing. I’ve found I just have to keep plugging along with my writing. Generally, the creative winds will pick back up and I can keep the story going.
Writing can be hard work. That’s something that many people don’t understand. They think writers are doing what they love–and we are–but that doesn’t mean that it’s not work. Getting the story down in the first draft is the hardest part for me. It can be exciting to have a great idea and think about writing a book, but it takes perseverance to see the story through the middle and end.       

 

5.   Do you have any advice for other dreamers?

Ann: Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. (Harriet Tubman)
When you think about what Harriet Tubman did, guiding so many slaves to freedom with danger stalking her every step, then you can get a vision of her dream. Our dreams won’t be like hers. My dream won’t be like yours. But we all have God given talents the Lord wants us to use. He gave us the capacity to dream. He wants us to dream big and use those talents to bring sunshine and joy into the world. While He doesn’t promise pursuing our dreams will be easy, He does promise to always be with us through the good and bad times, and sometimes He blesses us with stories.
So dream big, work hard, pray harder, and never give up.  
“Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in.”(Louise Brown) 
ANN H. GABHART, the author of several bestselling novels, has been called a storyteller, not a bad thing for somebody who never wanted to do anything but write down stories. She’s published twenty-six novels for adults and young adults with more stories on the way. She keeps her keyboard warm out on her Kentucky farm where she lives with her husband, Darrell. They have three children and nine grandchildren.
To find out more about Ann or her books visit www.annhgabhart.com. Check out her blog, One Writer’s Journal, www.annhgabhart.blogspot.com or Jocie’s Heart of Hollyhill blog www.hollyhillbookofthestrange.blogspot.com. You can follow Ann on Facebook, www.facebook.com/AnnGabhart, Twitter, https://twitter.com/AnnHGabhart , or
Pinterest, http://pinterest.com/annhgabhart/.    

Summer of Joy, the third title in the Heart of Hollyhill series is now in stores and available on-line dressed up in a brand new cover. Come visit the 1960s and enjoy some true-to-life family drama, refreshing humor and lovable characters.