Interview: Liz Johnson

When you walk into a bookstore, you make a beeline for what section?

Oh, man! This is tough! I guess it depends on the day. I love the Christian fiction section, and I always make it there. But I also love to check out what’s new in YA and general literature. I usually do a stroll through the whole store if I can.

Favorite place to write: Usually at a coffee shop or restaurant. I like to write while I’m getting dinner or during my lunch break at work.

Go-to writing snack or drink: Diet Dr. Pepper is ALWAYS my drink of choice. 🙂

What does your writing nook look like?  I have a comfy writing chair in my library, but it’s recently been overrun by moose. But when I clear it out, it’s the perfect writing nook.

Something you must do or have to write: The right keyboard. I’m very particular about the keyboard on my computer, so if I have the wrong one, I just can’t seem to get words down and have to handwrite them.

Favorite (doesn’t that word just make you cringe?) writer resource: The Emotion Thesaurus by Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman.

What book is currently on your nightstand? Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischoff and The Story of With by Allen Arnold and Story by Robert McKee (along with about 40 others).

Hard copy, e-reader, audio book: All of the above, and usually at the same time. I do love a good audio book for a road trip. And my general impatience makes getting books on my e-reader as soon as they release a delight.

What was the inspiration behind A Sparkle of Silver? My dad and I visited Hearst Castle in California, and I was fascinated by the opulence of the estate. I mean, who needs gold-plated swimming pool tiles? But Hearst had them. They also didn’t seem to make him very happy. And I started thinking about what it would look like for an outsider to that kind of wealth staying in a home like that.

Favorite part of writing A Sparkle of Silver: Discovering the ending! I had a loose idea of how it would end, but right up until I wrote it, I didn’t know who Millie’s great-grandfather was. She searches the whole book for her true family, and I didn’t know until I wrote the words who it was going to be. It was a fun moment of discovery.

Hardest part of writing A Sparkle of Silver: Finding the right language for a journal from 1929. I was constantly checking words and researching contractions to see if they were commonly used during that time period.

If A Sparkle of Silver was turned into a movie, who would you cast as the leads? I always envisioned Ben—the history professor—as Tom Hiddleston and Millie—the weary waitress/actress—as Elizabeth Olsen.

What is next? I’m working on revisions for the follow up book, A Glitter of Gold, which should release next summer. I’m also working on what I affectionately call my “super-secret project,” which I hope to release soon too.

About the Story:

Ninety years ago, Millie Sullivan’s great-grandmother was a guest at banker Howard Dawkins’ palatial estate on the shore of St. Simons Island, Georgia. Now, Millie plays a 1920s-era guest during tours of the same manor. But when her grandmother suggests that there is a lost diary containing the location of a hidden treasure on the estate, along with the true identity of Millie’s great-grandfather, Millie sets out to find the truth of her heritage–and the fortune that might be hers. When security guard Ben Thornton discovers her snooping in the estate’s private library, he threatens to have her fired. But her story seems almost too ludicrous to be fiction, and her offer to split the treasure is too tempting to pass up . . .

Connect with Liz through her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Interview: Sarah Monzon

When you walk into a bookstore, you make a beeline for what section?

Christian fiction, of course! I have to go visit my friends. ❤

Favorite place to write:

At the gym on a stationary bike with my iPad.

Go-to writing snack or drink:

Water. For editing though, it’s usually chocolate and coffee.


What does your writing nook look like?

What book is currently on your nightstand?

I’m in the middle of rereading the Age of Faith series by Tamara Leigh.

Hard copy, e-reader, audio book:

I actually prefer an e-reader. It fits perfectly in my purse, which means I can carry around more than one book with me at a time and I won’t be ruining any covers with crumbs and sticky things from kid’s snacks. Also, I can hold it with one hand (and considering I usually have one or more children on or around me, this is a big deal).

What was the inspiration behind Literarily for Keeps?

The cover. No joke, I saw the art and thought to myself how great a cover it would make and that I just had to write a story for it.

Favorite part of writing Literarily for Keeps:

The rough draft. It’s always my favorite part of writing.

Hardest part of writing Literarily for Keeps:

Waiting for edits back from my editor and the first reviews from early readers. I am always so nervous about how my stories will be received.

What is next?

There is one more bookish-type novellas planned titled Novelly Upon a Time. It will be Harper’s story.

About the Story:

Literature professor Ashleigh Darmody never imagined her life would turn into a classic trope, but that’s exactly what happens when her sister Claire calls with a bizarre request–quickly find a fake husband. Backstory is a powerful thing, and Ashleigh’s has plenty of shadows, but is her past so shady that it requires an elaborate scheme to ensure Claire’s prospective father-in-law, renowned TV evangelist Ken Abrams, will give her his blessing to marry his son?
Already divorced from a man who turned out to be other than he claimed, Ashleigh now has to pretend to be blissfully married to a stranger for the next five days. But when the lines of fiction and reality blur with each tick of the clock, could a temporary deal turn into something for keeps?

Connect with Sarah through her website, Facebook, or Instagram.

Interview: Alexis Goring

When you walk into a bookstore you make a beeline for what section?

When I walk into a bookstore, I head for the Christian Fiction section first because I like to check out inspirational fiction and nonfiction stories and fill up on those first.

Favorite place to write: My room by the double windows because of the beautiful rays of sunlight during the daytime and rich dark blue at night.

Go-to writing snack or drink: Chocolate chip cookies or a slice of chocolate fudge cake

What does your writing nook look like?

My writing nook features a comfortable computer desk station as the base with shelves that are overflowing with books!

Something you must do or have to write:

Music! I listen to my playlist on YouTube. My list consists of movie soundtracks and favorite songs by some of my favorite music artists in the genres of Contemporary Christian/Gospel/Pop/Country music.

Favorite (doesn’t that word just make you cringe) writer resource:

The Christian Writers Market Guide (book)

What book is currently on your nightstand?

You’re Gonna Love Me by Robin Lee Hatcher

Hard copy, e-reader, audio book:

It’s a toss-up between paperback copies and my Kindle books because while I love to hold the actual book in my hands and flip through the pages, it’s so much easier to store multiple digital books on my Kindle. Carrying around more than one book is troublesome but with e-books, I can carry around hundreds of books (literally) that do not weigh anything because they’re stored in my Kindle which itself is very lightweight. I love it!

What was the inspiration behind Love in Pictures?

My love for wedding photography, Italy, Journalism and romance stories all are the inspiration behind my story, Love in Pictures!

Favorite part of writing Love in Pictures: Creating the characters!

Hardest part of writing Love in Pictures: Writing about sensitive topics that many people of color go through but mainstream society feels uncomfortable talking about in real-life.

If Love in Pictures was turned into a movie, who would you cast as the leads?

I’d like to cast Katerina Graham as Michelle Hadley and Drew Van Acker as Logan Emerson BUT I’d like to give new actors who are bubbling over with untapped talent, a chance. So if there are new actors who are excellent, I’d go for it especially if their looks were similar to my book cover models.

Check out my storyboard on Pinterest for story related scenery and details!

What is next?

My next book is about a formerly fat pastry chef who is now considered one fine brother by all the ladies. However, he cannot commit to any of his adoring female fans because his heart is set on the one girl who he loved from afar in high school. He was too shy to ask her out on a date back then and now, he is afraid that he’ll never see her again. What he does not know is that she grew up to be a food writer and her magazine office is located down the block from his bakery.

About the Story:

Wedding photographer Michelle Hadley has a passion for diversity and believes that love comes in all colors. So, she’s working hard to convince editors to feature her clients’ images on the covers of the mainstream bridal and wedding magazines.

Despite having a career that focuses on celebrating forever love, Michelle has never actually been in a romantic relationship, and she’s not looking for love, until she meets the one man she cannot forget.

Since his fiancée broke his heart, Logan Emerson’s focus has been on his career. He’s won awards for his work as a print journalist and dreams of greater success on television as a broadcast journalist. But his personal struggle presents many challenges that might prevent his dreams from coming true.

Michelle doesn’t date often, and since his heartbreak, Logan has shied away from the dating scene. But something about Michelle awakens Logan’s desire to love again.

Connect with the Alexis through her Website, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and “God is Love” blog.

Interview: Davalynn Spencer

When you walk into a bookstore, you make a beeline for what section? I head for the Christian section and look for romance or suspense – historical romance, contemporary suspense.

Favorite place to write: In the summer I write from my office with a great window-view of birds at the feeder and deer out front. In the winter, I write from my laptop in front of the wood stove. Glass window there too, so I can see the flames. Guess I’m a visual kind of person!

Go-to writing snack or drink: Coffee

What does your writing nook look like? Half the room is writing, half is music. I play on my church’s worship team. I love maps, images of running horses, and hunky cowboys (Can you see my hunky cowboy board?). On the wall that faces my desk is the great window plus framed covers from all my books (10) and a small banner with a Winston Churchill quote: “Never, never, never, never, never give up.”

Something you must do or have to write: Coffee

Favorite (doesn’t that word just make you cringe) writer resource: There are truly too many to name. The top of my desk and two bookcase shelves are nothing but resources. However, in the writing of others I find gold nuggets of time-period vernacular or vivid descriptions that enable me to “see” a setting and put it into my own words. I write Western romance, therefore I read what I like to write: stories with laughter, danger, grace, and love.

What book is currently on your nightstand? An old book by deceased Western author and cartoonist, Stan Lynde. The book is Careless Creek. Lynde takes me away to another time and place – isn’t that why we read fiction? Lynde is not a romance writer, but he sure knows how to tell a tale.

Hard copy, e-reader, audio book: All three.

What was the inspiration behind The Miracle Tree? In the back of the book you’ll find an interesting tidbit that germinated this story, so I don’t want to give anything away. But I will say that this story simmered in my heart for five or six years, and I became wrapped up in the lives of Laura and Eli.

Favorite part of writing The Miracle Tree: By far, the favorite part of writing this book, or any other, is when a reader contacts me to tell me a particular phrase or scene resonated with them and encouraged them in their own life. The power of story is what drives me to write, and when I see that same power striking a match in someone’s life, I somehow come full circle.

Hardest part of writing The Miracle Tree: The hardest part was ending it. Not the ending, but saying good-bye to the story, to Laura and Eli. I know them better than I know most flesh-and-blood people!

Photo credit: Pinterest

If The Miracle Tree was turned into a movie, who would you cast as the leads?  I have an image of Eli on my Miracle Tree Pinterest page. I know most people will think the guy is Chris Pratt, but I’m telling you, it’s Eli Hawthorne III. Seriously. As far as Laura Bell goes, this is going to sound crazy, but the girl on the book cover – whoever she is – is my vision for Laura.

What is next? I’m looking forward to the November release of my historical Christmas novella, Snow Angel.

Anything else you would like to share? I’m the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters. For years my husband hauled several comedy-animal acts when we rodeoed. One year during the bull riding at the Estes Park Night Rodeo (Colorado) he was gunned down by a bull that broke his ribs and tore off his ear. We were under contract for the rest of the week, so after my husband was patched up and released by the surgeon, I finished out the week doing the acts in his place, dressed in his clothes. I didn’t fight bulls, though. Another bullfighter took care of that. My mama didn’t raise no fool.

About the Story:

Laura Bell needs a second chance, not a new romance. Home to heal and start over, she finds the neighbor boy she once idolized is a sharp-edged former Marine with secret wounds of his own. Eli Hawthorne’s prayers are finally answered when Laura returns, but he’s half a man now, and his scars may be too much for her. Laura and Eli can fill the empty places in each other’s heart if pride doesn’t keep him from trusting God and fear doesn’t blind her to the miracle of the boy she left behind.

Connect with Davalynn through her Website, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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Interview: Rachel McMillan

When you walk into a bookstore, you make a beeline for what section?  It really depends on what I am in the mood for. I do read a lot of historical mysteries, so if there is a new installment in a series that I follow, I am eager to get it.   I also really love literary and historical fiction. And YA! And the Starbucks (if there is one attached LOL)

Favorite place to write:  My neighbourhood Starbucks here in Toronto. Although I do frequent different coffee shops and pubs depending on my mood. But I love to take my laptop out in the world.

Go-to writing snack or drink: Tea. Americanos. Popcorn.

Something you must do or have to write: I cannot write a place I don’t know well.  So while planning and writing Murder at the Flamingo, it was essential for me to spend as much time as possible in Boston on research trips, walking and getting to know the city from Hamish and Reggie’s point of view.

Favorite (doesn’t that word just make you cringe) writer resource:  This might be a cop-out but reading. And not just research books or books in my genre. I learn something from every book I read.

What book is currently on your nightstand? I am currently reading the second in the Verity Kent series by Anna Lee Huber, Treacherous is the Night and loving it. (e-galley, it doesn’t officially release until the fall).

Hard copy, e-reader, audio book: I read all forms.  E-copies are easiest for publishers when they would like some promotion or endorsement or a blurb, so I love Netgalley. I also love getting ebooks immediately from my Public Library so that I don’t have to physically get to a library all of the time to have something downloaded. I don’t really like being read to so I haven’t even listened to an audiobook: save for a chapter of Murder at the Flamingo my publisher sent to me! That was a neat experience.

What was the inspiration behind Murder at the Flamingo? I really wanted to have something else in my pocket for my (then) publisher of the Herringford and Watts series and stay within the Herringford and Watts world. I was very curious to see how a kid belonging to Jem Watts and Ray DeLuca would turn out and Hamish just showed up fully formed in my head. I just saw him and heard him immediately and wanting to pursue his life as a young man, that determined the setting of  the 1930s: truth be told, a decade I had never thought of writing in before.

Favorite part of writing Murder at the FlamingoI loved the research. Spending time in Boston and getting to know Hamish and Reggie’s world. I love research: I find it so fascinating. My other favourite part is seeing which character will become my breakout character. There is always one. In this series, it is Nathaniel Reis.  I created him as a way for Reggie and Hamish to get to know the North End — for him to be a bit of a compass; but he just started talking on his own and winnowing his way deeply into the book and as the series progresses he will continue to have a huge role. Love him!   Also, Hamish. Honestly. I mean I have been writing since I was a little kid; but few characters have come to me so fully-formed. I just know him so well. He’s a delight to write.

Hardest part of writing Murder at the Flamingo: I give Hamish DeLuca every one of the symptoms I have suffered from having lived with an anxiety and panic disorder my entire life. Fortunately, at this point, I have the right medication and treatment to be stable and panic attacks are a relative rarity.  But, giving them to Hamish required getting into that headspace again so that I could authentically demonstrate what they felt like. I always found those scenes difficult to write. The other challenge is that I am still learning how to write mystery. I am a historical romance writer who just happened to find luck in adding a mysterious element to her first published series and I have kept pursuing open opportunities in that genre. While I love reading mystery, I always feel like I am catching up.  It is beginning to feel a little more natural; but it remains a challenge.

If Murder at the Flamingo was turned into a movie, who would you cast as the leads?   I always thought that Hamish had a bit of a Ben Whishaw look to him (especially in a vintage series like The Hour); but with a slightly longer nose and big blue eyes. Hamish has to have his mother’s big blue eyes. And, of course, her one dimple. But the ears and Ben Whishaw’s lanky build are totally Hamish, as is the tumbly black hair.  He just needs to look a little more Italian, lol.

Emma Watson would make a fabulous Reggie! Especially with the freckles.

What is next?  Murder in the City of Liberty releases in the Spring and I am so excited for readers to catch up with Reggie and Hamish and see how poorly they are doing at being “just friends.”  I also have the second novella in my Viennese contemporary romance trilogy coming out in September: Rose in Three Quarter Time (this is a marriage of convenience story between a conductor and his first violinist and I so love writing Vienna).

Anything else you would like to share?  While a reader doesn’t need to know the Herringford and Watts books to meet Hamish and Reggie, I have thrown in several Easter eggs for readers who have. For example, a lot of the advice Hamish remembers from his father are actual quotes from the H & W series.

About the Story:

Hamish DeLuca has spent most of his life trying to hide the anxiety that appears at the most inopportune times — including during his first real court case as a new lawyer. Determined to rise above his father’s expectations, Hamish runs away to Boston where his cousin, Luca Valari, is opening a fashionable nightclub in Scollay Square.  When he meets his cousin’s “right hand man,” Reggie, Hamish wonders if his dreams for a more normal life might be at hand. 

Regina “Reggie” Van Buren, heir to a New Haven fortune, has fled fine china, small talk, and the man her parents expect her to marry. Determined to make a life as the self-sufficient city girl she’s seen in her favorite Jean Arthur and Katharine Hepburn pictures, Reggie runs away to Boston, where she finds an easy secretarial job with the suave Luca Valari. But as she and Hamish work together in Luca’s glittering world, they discover a darker side to the smashing Flamingo nightclub.

When a corpse is discovered at the Flamingo, Reggie and Hamish quickly learn there is a vast chasm between the haves and the have-nots in 1937 Boston—and that there’s an underworld that feeds on them both. As Hamish is forced to choose between his conscience and loyalty to his beloved cousin, the unlikely sleuthing duo work to expose a murder before the darkness destroys everything they’ve worked to build. 

Connect with the Rachel through her Website, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.