Monday, March 30, 2015

Lee Warren Presents On Ramp and a Workshop

Lee Warren, author and freelance editor is one of the founding members of
Lee Warren Author and Freelance Editor 
Wordsowers Christian Writers. His website says he’s a sportswriter, storyteller and a sentimentalist…and he is. When you delve into Lee’s latest book you’ll hear his heartbeat. Lee will share industry terms and other tidbits on Friday night in order to prepare writers Saturday’s conference. Lee will also teach a workshop and be available for interviews. And don’t miss the opportunity to pick up his brand new book—Common Grounds.

Kat:  What prompted you to write and freelance edit full time?

Lee: It wasn’t anything mystical. I just had a strong desire to do so. As somebody who is painfully shy, writing has been my primary means for communicating the way I feel. Once I realized that doing so touched others on occasion, it awakened a desire to do it professionally.
On the editing side, it’s a natural progression for somebody who is trying to make a full-time living in the industry.     

Lee's latest book
Kat: You have a new book coming out soon. I know you have the title. Do you have the subtitle yet? Why did you write this particular book?

Lee: The book is called “Common Grounds” and the subtitle I will probably use is “Contemplations, Confessions and (unexpected) Connections from the Coffee Shop.” A subscriber to my email list sent that idea to me, and I love it.

I wrote this book to see if I was the only one. Am I the only one who is still shy about approaching a woman I am interested in, even though I am forty-eight years old? Am I the only one who just needs to be around people sometimes, even if we don’t have a conversation? Am I the only shy, large person who tries to blend in wherever he goes? 

Deep down, I knew I wasn’t the only one in any of these cases, but knowing something and feeling it are two different things. As such, I believe this book will resonate with people who have similar questions about their own insecurities and struggles.

I visited thirty coffee shops to find out the answers to those questions, and more.
For the Guys 
I wrote about what I observed and experienced. If I’ve done the math correctly, I spent $136.42 on coffee and a few donuts, which is a small price to pay for the commonality I felt between the patrons, baristas, and myself. And standing on common ground gave me strength in the most unexpected of ways.

Kat: Several Wordsowers participated in NationalNovel Writing Month. We met
in a restaurant and spent time together. Share why you think NaNoWriMo is valuable and why you encourage other authors to get involved?

Lee: Writing groups, email lists, and conferences are great. But in my experience, too many of us who want to write spend most of our free time thinking or talking about writing, rather than actually sitting down and producing content.

Buy for Christmas Now
Participating in NaNoWriMo is a commitment to produce 50,000 words in 30 days. The time for talking about writing is over at that point. Early in the process, you learn the necessity of creating a production schedule. If you don’t, then you will not write 1,667 words in a day (the average you must maintain). At the end of the month, you will have established a writing habit that should carry forward into the next month, and beyond.

Once you have established that habit, you can produce a great deal of content. Even if you only wrote for one hour a day, averaging 800 words per hour, it would only take you 100 days to write the first draft of an 80,000-word novel, or 63 days to write the first draft of a 50,000-word non-fiction book. All of us can write for an hour a day, but it starts by building that habit into our schedule. Participating in NaNoWriMo is a great way to do that.

Kat:  You usually write non-fiction and work at editing, but recently you have invested more time in novel writing? Do you find writing fiction relaxing, fun, or challenging.

Lee: Fiction is more difficult for me to write, though, than nonfiction. My
Great Devotions 
thinking is more linear than creative, so nonfiction is more natural for me. Producing great fiction requires the ability to complete a believable story arc with memorable characters, and since neither happens in a linear fashion, I struggle through that process. I suspect that I’m a “seat of the pants” novelist for this very reason. For nonfiction, I’m a strict outliner.  

Kat: Any other thoughts you want to add?

I look forward to meeting new attendees at the conference, as well as catching up with old friends. If you feel a bit lost in the publishing maze, make sure you sign up for an appointment to see me. I’d love to walk you through it.

One more thing ... as I make a transition from traditional publishing to indie publishing, I’m looking to engage with my readers, and prospective readers, more than ever. My plan is to offer them the best deals on my books going forward.

 (I’m going to offer the Kindle version of “Common Grounds” for .99 cents to my email list for a limited time), as well as to offer giveaways. The way to be eligible is to join my free email list:

Interview by Kat Crawford, one of the Wordsowers Christian Writer's Leadership Team. Lovin' the opportunity to share in the lives with other writers.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Mary Connealy Author of Romantic Comedy with Cowboys

If you haven’t read a Mary Connealy cowboy romance you're missing out. In years past I read the books not knowing the author. Now I just love to crawl in bed with my kindle, saddle up and have fun with Mary’s characters. I smile, laugh out loud and sometimes cry. Each book is a great adventure. Check her blog for actual photos of a sod houses with horses on the roof and more.... 
You won’t want to miss her workshop.
Kat: Tell us about you and your family:
Mary: I live on a farm/ranch in northeast Nebraska. My husband and I are high school sweethearts who just celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary. And we live ten miles from where I grew up and three miles from where he did.
We live in the bluffs along the Missouri River and we run cattle on the land too steep to grow crops and farm the land that’s nice enough to lay flat instead of stand on end. I call my husband My Cowboy on Facebook but it’s more correct to call him a cattleman, as we don’t
have those cool horses, chaps, lassoes and such that cowboys in the western part of the states have. But he needed a fun nickname so I came up with My Cowboy
We have four grown daughters. Two married, a third engaged with a June wedding coming up. I have three beautiful grandchildren with one daughter and a second is expecting her first child in August.
Kat: How many books have you published?
Mary: You know, I’m sort of losing count. Seriously. I’ve done some Indy pubbed books and quite a few novellas lately, in addition to my traditionally published books. The count is getting away from me. I think my 38th and 39th books are the two indy pubbed novellas coming in April which will make my June release my 40th book.
I could be off a few. I think I’ve published maybe…13 novellas in the last three years. It’s gotten way out of hand! 
Kat: When did you decide to write and why did you choose cowboy romance?
Mary: I wrote for ten years before I got my first book published and on that day when I got my first contract, I have 20 finished books on my computer. Those books were mostly all romance and all Christian, but beyond that…I wrote everything and anything that appealed to me. Contemporary sweet, contemporary police procedurals, romantic suspense, even a gothic. And
I wrote historical westerns.
After I received my first contract I sold (not counting the very first one) I sold seven books before I had to write one. And since then of those twenty books I’ve sold 14, I think. Some I’ve cut to novella length. So I didn’t really ‘choose’ the cowboy romances but I think I found my voice in them, which is why they sold. 
Kat: Did you have anything embarrassing or humorous happen to you while writing a book, meeting an editor or agent? 
Mary: I remember one of the most fun times I ever had with an agent. The American Christian Fiction Writers conference has, as part of the conference fee, a meeting with an agent and a meeting with an editor. You’re guaranteed two. So my second conference I already had an agent. (I’m on my third and have finally got a really good one!) But my agent wasn’t at conference—I’d just barely signed with that one shortly before conference, and I’d yet to sell a book.
So I got to choose an agent and I had all these books to sell and no real idea how to proceed. I’d made up FOUR versions of a book list. One targeting Love Inspired Harlequin, One targeting Barbour Heartsong, (where I made me first sale too, that year at conference.) One listing all my historicals and one listing the romantic suspense. And I had a meeting with an editor and wasn’t sure just how to proceed.
So I went to the agent appointment and I sat down with this extremely nice lady that I still know, and said, “Wendy (Lawton) I already have an agent but he’s not here and I get an appointment and you’re the lucky girl. I need advice.” Then I dragged out all my one sheets and said, “Who do I talk to. What do I show? Is this a testimony to hard work and commitment or is it a towering symbol of failure.”
Well, we just started talking and I think she was sort of relieved to NOT have someone pitching to her for one precious 15 minute spell and she gave me lots of advice and we talked our heads off the whole time. It was great fun.
Kat: I know you are working on a new series this summer. How and why did you choose to write 12 bride stories and how do you develop such different characters for each book?
Mary: I’ve written one book in the 12 Brides of Christmas series and one book in the 12 Brides
of Summer series. So there are 12 authors working together. These are some of the 13 novellas I’ve written in the last few years.
When I was writing for Barbour Publishing they had me writing four full length books (90-100,000 words) a year. I could keep up with that pace mainly because I had so many books already written. But it was starting to scare me. Then I got a good agent and a great offer from Bethany House but they only wanted two books a year.
I think a comfortable pace is probably three books. So now I’ve got all this time on my hands and I worry that I’ll accidentally make a friend or get a hobby and mess up my whole life. So the novellas are filling in the holes in my spare time and writing some of them for Barbour Publishing is fun because I love those folks and I don’t forget that they gave me my first chance.
Kat: Do you have a special program that helps track the color of the eyes and hair?
Mary: I make notes at the top of the manuscript with details like that. ages, eye color, names and jobs of minor characters (those are the hardest to keep track of). By the time I’m done with a book I might have several pages worth of notes.
I’ve tried creating spread sheets but then I make a change in the book and forget to update the spread sheet and then I don’t know which is right or if I changed it in the book or not, so that’s confusing.
Kat: Do you have a special prayer request?
Mary: For my family and my presentation. 

Kat: If you want to know more about Mary and her books, check out her website. 
Interview by Lionhearted Kat, one of the Wordsowers Leadership Team.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Laree Lindburg with EMoon Publishing

Laree Lindburg arrived at the Wordsowers monthly meeting sometime in 2006.
Laree Lindburg of EMoon Publishing
She attended our critique group and several of our monthly meetings over the years…especially when we met at Shadow Lake, closer to her home. Wordsowers is excited about Laree holding her marketing debut for Emoon Publishing at our conference. Look for the EMoon booth.

Kat: In a few sentences tell us about you, family and background of Emoon Publishing:

Laree: My husband, Tyler, and I have been married for almost 14 yrs. We have four children--three boys, one girl. Writing is a process I have enjoyed from a young age and have dabbled in contest entries along the way. After college, I began to pursue my "creative side" more actively. I practiced by penning children's lit, articles, short stories and devotions a number of which went on to be published.

Later I worked on a children's book. I attended a writer's conference in 2006. There, I signed with a literary agent. He convinced me to write a Christian non-fiction work I had on my heart. He marketed the non-fiction work to publishing houses, but all reported back a major void—no platform. The book is still not published, but the literary agent and I became friends. He hooked me up with edits, rewrites and a ghost writing job through his firm. I’m thankful for the experience gained.

Published by EMoon
Two years after signing with the lit agent, he started a small publishing company--Electric Moon. He hired me as the eBook formatter/publisher. Several years later, ownership of eMoon transferred to DustJacket Press in Oklahoma—my identity remained glued to eMoon as its manager. Emoon is still serving as DJ's eBook specialist. In 2014 I acquired ownership of eMoon. And now here we are!

Since the time of eMoon's birth, I have formatted and/or published 80+ books for digital publication. An irreplaceable experience in the publishing world. 

Kat: Question: What is your number one goal in becoming a publishing company?

Laree: To produce satisfied authors, publish quality written work and glorify the Lord.

Kat: Why is your publishing company different than others? Do you hire freelance editors? How do you develop a book cover?

Laree: As authors and writers ourselves, we contemplated and prayed about what we would want in a publishing house. Our conclusion: EMoon gives RIGHTS and ROYALTIES back to the author. We do ask the authors to maintain our name as publisher and allow us to use your book for marketing our business. Even though the author maintains rights and royalties, and eMoon may incur monetary loss in the long run, our goal is to not penalize the author for this gift by passing on the cost. As a result, we offer fair and competitive pricing on all our services.

Published by EMoon February 2015
Down the road, eMoon plans to offer marketing, begin an online bookstore (through our website), host writer's contests and produce Electric Moon imprint books.  

Four team members, other than myself are employed at eMoon: a typesetter, cover creator (graphics designer), paper publisher, editors, writers and electronic publishers. To keep up with the trends, we are pleased to offer EPUB and MOBI files of your book—the author can then sell as downloads directly off their website.

At this time, we do not have a need for freelance editors. Our cover designers create sole front covers (for eBooks) and front, spine, backs (for paperbacks). We are able to use an image you own the rights to or use our own stock images and creations. 

Emoon does desire to show integrity in what it chooses to publish, therefore, we do not publish erotic materials and reserve the right to deny any manuscript. If a work comes across our desks needing editorial "clean up" we will suggest this as mandatory before we will consider publishing.

Kat: How are you marketing Electric Moon Publishing?

Laree: You can find "EMoon Publishing," on Facebook "Electric Moon Publishing," and on Twitter—EmoonPubber. Mostly, we want to be known by word-of-mouth. Those verbal affirmations from pleased authors are the best marketing available! 

Special note from Kat: EMoon Publishing About us page is sure to scroll down and read about the team and their quirks. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Author Cheryl St.John

Writer's Digest author Cheryl St.John shares her workshop,"A Story is Feelings: Trigger Emotion in Your Reader" 
at the 2015 Wordsowers Writers Conference.

Cheryl St.John is the author of over forty Harlequin and Silhouette books. Her first book, RAIN SHADOW was nominated for RWA’s RITA for Best First Book, by Romantic Times for Best Western Historical, and by Affaire de Coeur readers as Best American Historical Romance.

In describing her stories of second chances and redemption, readers and reviewers use words like, “emotional punch, hometown feel, core values, believable characters and real life situations.

Jeanie: Cheryl, you've written over fifty published books, and received multiple Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Awards and four RITA nominations. You've taught writing on both local and national levels.

How did you get started?              

Cheryl: The first story I ever wrote was called The Pink Dress. I stapled the pages into a book and drew a cover. I don’t remember how old I was. Maybe eleven. 

Many years later, I wrote a short story, submitted it, and received a rejection from Redbook magazine. I was fourteen and I still have the story and the rejection slip. 

I still remember the feeling of rejection and disappointment when I received it.

My first complete novel was titled The Rebel. I’m actually too embarrassed to tell you what it was about. I was sixteen.

I wrote in notebooks for years while my children were growing up, and I started a couple of books that way.

Jeanie: In your book, Writing With Emotion, Tension, and Conflict, you share techniques to add spark to  characters, plots and dialogue. In your opinion and given today's market, how much does that factor into sales?

Cheryl: A story is feelings. If you want to engage readers in your stories, your characters and their plights must hook into the reader's emotions.  We read fiction to feel something, be it fear, excitement, amusement, all from the relative safety of our armchairs.  

If we want to hook a reader, we must make him care. To make him care, we must learn the things that trigger our own emotions and utilize them effectively.  One we've made the reader feel engaged, they will confidently buy our next book.

Jeanie: What tips would you give to other aspiring romance authors, looking to be published?

  1. Believe in yourself. There will be times when no one else believes in you, so you have to draw on and draw out the writer inside. 
  2. Study your craft. Study. Study. 
  3.  Read. Read. Read. 
  4.  Network and find a writing group.

Jeanie: How can we pray for you?

Cheryl: My prayer each year is for God to show me how I can glorify Him with the gifts and abilities He's given me. 

"Lord, help me encourage others to be everything You've called them to be and to receive the fullness of life You offer them." 

(John 10:10 - "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." )

Jeanie: Cheryl, thanks for chatting with us.

You can connect with Cheryl on her website, Facebook page, blogGoodreads, and in person  at the 2015 Wordsowers Writers Conference.

Monday, March 9, 2015

CWAHM Founder Jill Hart

Jill Hart, founder of the popular Christian work-at-home website,, speaks to audiences around the country on faith, business and leadership topics. She's written for Focus on the Family's Thriving Family, In Touch Magazine, P31 Woman, and across the web on sites like She's authored several books, including Do Life Different and So You Want To Be a Work-at-Home Mom.

At the 2015 Wordsowers Christian Writers Conference Jill presents her workshop:

 Writing as a Business - Creating a Plan for Success. Tax tips, ideas for planning your writing business and using your time efficiently.

Jeanie: Many writers, myself included, focus on the excitement of having our submissions purchased without thinking about the IRS's cut. Will your workshop cover any record-keeping strategies for tax time? 

Jill: Yes, I'll share some of my experiences in dealing with the IRS and tax issues. I am certainly not a tax professional or expert, though, so any specific tax related questions should be directed to an accountant or tax preparer. 

What I can offer, however, is 15 years of experience in how I've handled tax and bookkeeping issues. And I'll be sharing stories of what NOT to do, so others can learn from my mistakes and not repeat them.

Jeanie: What are some highlights of your workshop?

Jill: We'll be covering some basic principles of how to treat your writing as a business. To be successful as a writer you need to not only your writing, you need to know how to handle the "back end" of things as well - things like tracking expenses and which expenses are deductible. 

Writers also need to be aware of when they must pay taxes on their writing - the income threshold that makes them accountable to the IRS. Especially as Christian writers we want to be sure to run our businesses ethically and above reproach.

Jeanie: With CWAHM, writing, speaking, video blogs, and radio spots you have a full plate. How do you maintain a balance between your spiritual life, family, and business?

Jill: I'm not sure that balance is truly attainable. It seems to me that there is always one area of my life getting less time than the others, and that "one area" is continually changing.

I've learned that it's more important to be aware of where you're at in each of the areas you mentioned (spiritual life, family and business) and willing to maintain a flexible attitude. I'm constantly bopping back and forth between each area, taking stock of how things are going and making changes accordingly. I think it's a life-long journey, but I fully believe it's worth it!

Jeanie:  How can we pray for you? 

Jill: I would love for you to pray for me as I prepare to speak. I've also recently started graduate school to pursue my Master's in Counseling (a life-long dream of mine), so I would covet your prayers as my brain re-learns what it's like to be a student. And, for my husband and kids, as they lovingly give me some extra time during this season to prepare for speaking engagements and go to school. I am blessed!


Follow these links to learn more about Jill, her CWAHM business, and her books.

And, of course, meet her in person at the 2015 Wordsowers Christian Writers Conference.