Friday, March 31, 2017

Author Interview with Lauren Brandenburg & Book Giveaway!

Hey y'all! Today we're getting to know fellow author, speaker, and educator, Lauren Brandenburg! 

Lauren will be giving a copy of her latest release "Orlo the Created". Be sure to enter to win below!

Welcome Lauren!

Lauren is a speaker and advocate for home education, as well as author of the middle-grade series The Books of the Gardener and creative writing curriculum, The Engaged Writer. Her novels are recognized as a “Top Safe Read” and “Top Read Aloud” for young readers in the homeschool community. She is active in ACFW and Masterpiece Ministries. Lauren and her husband, Jamie, live in Nashville, Tennessee with their two children.

Tell us about your latest novel, writing project etc and any personal inspiration behind it.

Oh, how I would love to give you all the details! But as it is currently being shopped, I think it wise to hold off a bit. I will say that it is an adult contemporary and probably my most favorite piece I have ever written. There are glimpses of my own story in the midst of massive financial loss, sprinkled with some larger than life characters, a lovely town, and a flea market . . . and macaroons. Yes, macaroons are very important!

Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

Happy to share! I am currently cleaning up my fifth children’s novel—Orlo: The Burdened, outlining the sixth in the series—Orlo: The Chosen, and brainstorming the follow-up to my adult contemporary (it’s my happy place).

What is your favorite scripture and why?

Philippians 4:8 - Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

When I am afraid or worried, the Father reminds me to think on what is true—it has helped me through many dark moments. Recently, the idea of dwelling on things that are lovely has consumed me in such a fun, calming way. I have found peace in thinking on the lovely, finding the joy in simplicity, and looking beyond that which is not glorifying to our Father. Think lovely thoughts!

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them? (ie I can’t stand to fold socks. Torture!)

Folding! I am 100% guilty of leaving clothes in the dryer and running it multiple times until I finally feel like folding them. I’ve also been known to stuff said clean dry clothes in a laundry basket then three days later-ish have to put them back in the dryer for fluffing and wrinkle releasing. Oh, and the words “Have you checked in the dryer?” have come out of my mouth on multiple occasions as my kiddos search for martial arts uniforms, socks, undies, etc. (The dryer just now buzzed as I am typing this! LOL It’s a first round dry, but since there are wet items in the washer, into the basket the dry clothes will go!)

Are you a veteran or do you have someone in your family that served in the Military? Tell us a little bit about your service or their service; it’s our way of honoring you/them. 

I’ve always told people that I grew up I a military family even though my dad was unable to directly serve. My brother currently serves in the Navy, my grandfather served in the Army during WWII, my uncle is a retired Army Ranger, and my other uncle serves in the National Guard. As a young child my dad contracted hystoplasmosis  (my entire childhood I was forbidden to pick up a feather or play in our attic because of it). The illness left my dad’s lungs so scarred that on an x-ray it appeared that he once had tuberculosis. Because of the scarring, my dad was not permitted to actively serve our country in the armed forces. However, he raised me to honor our leaders, respect our military, and respect our country’s flag—I’d say he served his country well.

If you could switch genres in your writing, in which genre would you choose to write your next novel?
(Click image to purchase)
I thought that I would always write for children. I had accepted it as my identity and envisioned many book signings chatting with young fans. Not once did I see myself writing for adults, but then . . . But then I shared a wild idea with my agent. She encouraged me to get it on paper and test-drive it before several publishing houses. Along the way, I think I found myself. I had many real conversations with the Father about who I was trying to be and the design he actually had in mind. So a genre switch . . . how about Children’s Speculative to Adult Humorous Duel Timeline! I’ll finish my children’s series, but I have a feeling I will land somewhere else.

Let’s play a game of favorites! Feel free to elaborate.

Favorite Dessert: Chocolate. Oh wait, I should be more specific . . . Chocolate Cake (unless it is winter and then a cozy cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate will do the trick). But if it is my birthday, Red Velvet Cake (It’s really chocolate cake dyed red with a unique cream cheese icing, so it counts as chocolate, right?)

Favorite Restaurant: Banana Leaf Modern Thai in Cincinnati! (BEST CURRY EVER!)

Favorite Branch of the Military (I won’t judge you if say anything other than Army) : Navy (Shout out to my baby brother!)

Favorite Genre of Music: Alternative (Is that still a genre?) My daughter and I are on a Twenty-One Pilots kick right now! Rumors that make it okay to listen to this band: One of them was homeschooled. One was a youth pastor. Their music has Christian overtones.

Favorite Subject in School: English (I have no fun comments on this, just English.)

Connect with Lauren:

Email –

Amazon (Orlo: The Created) -

 We've had such a great time getting to know Lauren! Enter to win a copy of "Orlo the Created" below!

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Friday, March 24, 2017

Breathing on Her Own: Lessons from My Firstborn "Bookchild"

Today we welcome Author, and Speaker, Rebecca Waters! Rebecca has valuable insight to share, and a FREE COPY OF HER NOVEL, Breathing on Her Own. Rebecca, thank you for joining us today!

Breathing on Her Own: Lessons from My Firstborn "Bookchild"

Publishing that first novel is akin to raising your firstborn child. You do your best, make a few mistakes, and learn along the way.  Now that Breathing on Her Own is a three-year-old, I’m prepared to offer other fledgling parents of books my sage advice.

Lesson 1 Birthing a “Bookchild” Requires Preparation
First time parents want to do this whole baby thing right. Moms exercise and eat healthy. Dads dutifully paint the nursery. The couple reads everything they can about raising children and they spend long hours discussing the child’s name. 

In the same way, writers seeking to be authors need to exercise their writing muscle in order to draft that sweet manuscript. They must purposefully study the craft of writing and nuances of publishing. Writers need to identify their strengths and weaknesses and create a plan to improve as a writer. Choosing the title will emerge as the story unfolds. When I embarked on crafting that first novel, I created a business plan for my writing. I budgeted my time to study writing and publishing and engaged daily in writing exercises.

Lesson 2 Nobody’s “Bookchild” is Perfect
You wrote it. You love it. I get it. However, nobody births a perfect “bookchild.” Even the best of the best authors must revise and edit their work on a constant basis. I worked hard on that first novel to write a compelling story. I was sure I nailed it. When my publisher introduced me to my editor I waited for her to rave about the book. Fortunately, she knew her job was to polish my work not to caress my ego. Working with a professional editor may be painful or even costly. Think of it as putting braces on your child to correct the overbite. Healthy straight teeth improve speech quality, digestion, and physical appearance. A professional edit will allow your voice to be heard. It will give your manuscript the look and feel of a successful book.

Lesson 3 Not Everyone on the Playground Will Choose Your “Bookchild”
Once I decided to become an author I attended a writing conference. I hadn’t finished the first draft of Breathing on Her Own but was very close to the end. I pitched the book to agents and acquisition editors for publishing houses. I practiced what is called an elevator pitch. The first two agents interrupted me about halfway through my pitch. The next one and a couple of the publishers offered a kind word but a firm no. My last appointment was with Eddie Jones of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He listened. He read the chapters I sent him. Two months later I had a contract. Not everyone will choose your book, but it only

takes one.

March 24th marks the third anniversary of the release of Breathing on Her Own. In celebration, my publisher is offering a freecopy of the book today! Grab it now on Amazon.

Are you an aspiring author? I would love to hear from you. How are you spending these months of preparation to birth your own “bookchild?”

Interview with Rebecca: 

1: Tell us about your latest novel, writing project etc and any personal inspiration behind it.

My husband died in a bicycle accident a few months after Breathing on Her Own released. That has been the hardest experience of my life. I put my novels on the back burner. I have a strong following on my blog, A Novel Creation, a background in education, and experience as a speaker. I’m often asked to speak to groups about the writing and publishing process. As a result, I recently published three handbooks for writers: Designing a Business Plan for Your Writing, Marketing You and Your Writing 101, and Writing with E’s. Proceeds from these books go to the Thomas R. Waters Memorial Scholarship for Ergonomics Research set up by the CDC Foundation.

2. What is your favorite scripture and why?

Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, do it heartily as for the Lord and not for men.” I claim this verse in every area of my life. In school I applied it to every assignment, always trying to do my best. Even if I didn’t like the teacher, I wrote the paper for God. What a difference that made! As a young wife I could sometimes feel unappreciated by my husband who tramped across the newly scrubbed kitchen floor with his muddy shoes. But when I scoured the floor for God, my feelings changed. He appreciated what I did. I now apply this to my writing as well. An agent may not like my book, but that’s okay. I didn’t write it for him!

3. I love hearing how God has set people free. There’s so much more to freedom than patriotism. Would you share a time with us when you experienced God’s freedom? 

I love this question. It is interesting to me because of the timing. As I’ve shared, my husband died quite suddenly in 2014. He and I had been married for 43 years. I’ve clung to passages about God’s care for me and that He has a plan for me. It’s been hard.  I relied on Tom for so much. Recently I heard a message about Lot’s wife. I never had much respect for Mrs. Lot. After all, she was told to not look back but did so anyway. She deserved being turned into a pillar of salt, right? Curious. The minister mentioned that aspect of disobedience, but said it wasn’t that she looked back with her eyes. She looked back with her heart. She looked back and longed for a life she couldn’t have. For me, a life I had enjoyed but one that could never be again. Don’t misunderstand. I will never forget Tom. He will always be a part of me, but now I am leaning on God more. I’m seeking His counsel and trusting His judgment more. I’m no longer looking at the plumber and wondering what Tom would do. There is a newfound freedom in that. Knowing that God has my back and He is all-powerful to care for me? Yes, that is true freedom. 


Rebecca Waters’ freelance work has resulted in articles for Chicken Soup for the Soul, the Lookout Magazine, The Christian Communicator, Church Libraries, and Home Health Aide Digest. Prior to publishing her first novel, Breathing on Her Own, Rebecca was a college professor and speaker on the Ohio Writing Project circuit.