Friday, March 23, 2018

Interview: Award-winning author Valerie Hansen--and a free book drawing!

Roxanne Rustand here, delighted to share with you an interview by award-winning author Valerie Hansen, whom I have admired for years!  Be sure to leave a comment to be in a drawing for a free copy of her book!

1.     If you had to describe yourself in one sentence, what would you say? Valerie never quits, never gives up, because she leans on her Savior.

2.     What do you do when you’re not writing? Any interesting hobbies? I love to garden and play with my dogs, usually at the same time. Living in AR gives me sufficient rainfall that I actually look like I know what I’m doing when I grow gorgeous flowers.

3.     What was your favorite book as a teen or child?  Has that book informed your writing in any way? I read everything. Literally. I see writers – and readers – as sponges who soak up whatever is available. Another reason why I favor Christian books and cozy mysteries. I don’t want to scare myself!

4.     What is your writing process? Panic. Left to my own devices I’d still write in spurts because I long ago decided I also needed a personal life, but there is nothing like a looming deadline to get me going. At the beginning of a book I explore different angles. Then an editor starts to steer me in the direction she wants me to go. Once I get a firm contract I plod along to about page 150, then catch fire and race to the end. I know how the story ends by then but I need to “see” it.

5.     Tell us two things about yourself that might surprise your readers. I was a late bloomer. My writing career didn’t begin until I was 40 and by that time I had grown children. (I’m still 40, by the way!) I’ve been a vet tech, a Kindergarten aide, a fire department dispatcher, a dog breeder, a shoe store clerk, a 4-H leader, built dulcimers, raised guinea pigs,  taught extension courses in Jr. College, visited every state except Hawaii, taught Sunday School, won top prize on the game show Super Password, been accidentally shot when I dropped an antique gun and am actually a crack shot. When the gun is in my hand. (I used that experience to “shoot” my heroine in Wilderness Courtship, a Love Inspired Historical)   

6.     What genre did you start out writing? Have you changed course? Why or why not? I began with secular romance, progressed to Silhouette Romance by using my game show experience, then moved to Love Inspired when I renewed my faith in the rural Arkansas Ozarks. After that, when LI started a suspense line I was ready. Same thing happened when they branched out into historical. I had a manuscript written and they bought it. “Frontier Courtship” is about the American West and I actually got positive fan mail from a Native American about the way I handled their culture. 

7.     Any other genres you’d like to try? If yes, what and why? Been there, done what I’m comfortable with. It takes longer to write a historical because I insist on correct research and since LI has stopped that line, I will probably stick to mystery/suspense. It’s my fave, anyway.

8.     If you could go back in time and do something differently at the start of your career, what would it be? I’m not sure. If I had started younger there’s no telling where I’d have ended up. I’m happy right where I am, doing what I do.

9.     What is the most important piece of advice you’d like to give to unpublished authors? READ. That’s it. Once I made up my mind what to write, I actually studied published romances, making notes on the strong and weak points and what worked for me and what didn’t. When I began to write it wasn’t easy, but at least my subconscious could help.

10.   Tell us about your book. What drew you to this particular story?  Were there difficult or amusing  aspects to the writing process or your research?  Tell us about your hero and heroine. As many of you may already know, I’ve participated in lots of K-9 continuities. When you’re asked to write a series story you’re dependent upon others as well as editorial input. That makes it harder in some ways and easier in others. This time, with “Bound By Duty” being part of an air force Military K-9 Unit series, I had to put myself into my own version of school to learn a lot about the air force. It was tough. Complicated. And at the same time 7 other authors were doing the same thing. There is a prequel by Terri Reed in this group, 8 regular length novels, then a 2-novella Christmas book that I wrote with Laura Scott.  Whew!  We work hard, make lifelong friends of other authors, pour our hearts and souls into the combined stories and breathe a sigh of relief when it’s all done.

By that time, most of us are vowing we will never, ever do it again. Then we get the call and we say yes. Why? Because we are writers. We have to write. It’s in our being and has to come out. I thank God daily for the opportunities I’ve had and the future I look forward to writing the new stories already contracted for. I’ll be working through 2020, at least, the Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.

Valerie Hansen

BOUND BY DUTY: Canyon Air Force Base, Texas. Her serial killer brother has escaped - but it's single mom Zoe Sullivan who's under suspicion! Sgt. Linc Colson trusts two things; his instincts and his Rottweiler K-9 partner, Star - and certainly not the pretty face he's been assigned to monitor. Linc has done everything to keep Zoe from getting under his skin. Now he must stop those who want to put her six feet under.

         Valerie Hansen’s basic nature is to enjoy every day to the fullest – and try to not take herself too seriously. She married her high school sweetheart and they raised two great kids before leaving California to pursue their dreams of a rural lifestyle on an old, eighty acre farm in the Arkansas Ozarks.
         So far, Valerie has over 50 books to her credit.  Besides doing extensive research, she has plenty of interesting experiences to draw upon. Ready? Veterinary assistant, teacher’s aide, volunteer
fire department dispatcher, Emergency Medical Technician, bank worker, professional artist, store clerk, bookkeeper, 4-H leader, Sunday school teacher, gospel singer/songwriter, winning quiz show contestant, dog trainer, college extension-class instructor, and antique restorer. She’s built dulcimers and a psaltery, laid bricks and tile, designed stained-glass windows, roofed a house, decorated store windows for the holidays, helped pour cement, raised fancy guinea pigs and finches, driven a long-haul moving van, and was once the proud owner of twenty-three Newfoundland dogs at one time. Don’t try that at home! Although she has written for all three Love Inspired lines, her main focus is on mystery and suspense.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Suspense Sisters Welcomes Johnnie Alexander

by Patricia Bradley

Today I want to welcome Johnnie Alexander to The Suspense Sisters! I "met" Johnnie in 2010 through the ACFW Critique groups and we've been friends ever since. I will admit to being a little envious of her lyrical writing--I get so caught up in her stories, I've been known to burn the beans.  
So without further ado, heeeerres Johnnie!

Tell us three things about yourself that might surprise your readers.
  1. I can seldom eat the last bite of any sandwich.
  2. On not one but two occasions I accidentally took medication meant for my dog.
  3. Last October, my sister and I traveled around Europe by train without a plan. (And it was so much fun!)

What genre did you start out writing? Have you changed course? Why or why not?
My debut novel, Where Treasure Hides, is historical fiction, and that genre touches a deep place in my heart. But when God opened the door to writing a contemporary romance series, I jumped headfirst into that opportunity. I jumped again when the door opened to writing two cozy mysteries and an Amish romance.
Genre-jumping may go against the conventional wisdom, yet I felt God’s promise to set my feet in a spacious place while I waited for my first contract. I didn’t expect that to mean multiple genres, but I’ve loved the challenges.

I’m more of a seat-of-the-pants writer than a plotter, but the cozy mystery publisher requires a chapter summary as part of the proposal. Through that process, I learned that plotting didn’t mean the characters still wouldn’t surprise me with their antics. The summary also helps the actual writing go much faster.
Any other genres you’d like to try? If yes, what and why?
Great question. My pet project has a dual timeline, one set during WWII and the other set in the mid-1990s. I’m excited about getting it out into the world. I’d also like to write something whimsical. Though at this moment I don’t have a clue what I mean by that.
If you could go back in time and do something differently at the start of your career, what would it be?
I would have written fiction instead of just reading about writing fiction. Fear paralyzed me for too many years.
What is the most important thing you’d like readers to take away from your books?
We don’t have to be defined by our pasts but can smile at the future God provides for us.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you’d like to give to unpublished authors?
Three Cs: join a critique group, enter contests, attend conferences.
Thanks, Johnnie, for a very interesting interview!
And guess what?? One lucky commenter will win a copy of Where Treasure Hides. (Print copy for US addresses and digital elsewhere) 
Comment Question: Johnnie talks about fear paralyzing her. Have you ever let fear keep you from doing something you wanted to? OR Have you ever taken medicine meant for your pet?
Johnnie Alexander imagines heart-tugging stories in multiple genres wherever she happens to be at the moment. Her CBA best-selling and award-winning debut novel, Where Treasure Hides, has been translated into Dutch and Norwegian.
She’s also the author of the Misty Willow Series: Where She BelongsWhen Hope Arrives, and What Hope Remembers. Since talking about writing is so much fun, Johnnie hosts Novelists Unwind, which features videotaped interviews with inspirational authors, and Writers Chat, a weekly online show. She also teaches at writers conferences and for Serious Writer Academy.

Johnnie serves on the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference Executive Committee. She is a founding member and past president of both the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Memphis and Central Florida chapters.
Sharing Johnnie’s vagabond life are Griff, her happy-go-lucky collie, and Rugby, her raccoon-treeing papillon. Connect with her on her website, her Facebook Author Page, Twitter, GoodReads, and her Amazon Author Page.

Artist Alison Schuyler spends her time working in her family’s renowned art gallery, determined to avoid the curse that has followed the Schuyler clan from the Netherlands to America and back again.

She’s certain that true love will only lead to tragedy—that is, until a chance meeting at Waterloo station brings Ian Devlin into her life. Drawn to the bold and compassionate British Army captain, Alison begins to question her fear of love as World War II breaks out, separating the two and drawing each into their own battles.

While Ian fights for freedom on the battlefield, Alison works with the Dutch Underground to find a safe haven for Jewish children and priceless pieces of art alike.

But safety is a luxury war does not allow. As time, war, and human will struggle to keep them apart, will Alison and Ian have the faith to fight for their love, or is it their fate to be separated forever?

Purchase Links:
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