Thursday Author Spotlight: Patrick E. Craig

I had the privilege of meeting and working with Patrick last year at the Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference. His first book was recently released from Harvest House. I reviewed it here and really enjoyed it.

Here are a few questions (and answers) from Patrick.

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You are a man who writes Amish fiction and there are very few out there. Why Amish?

In late 2010, I read a blog by Nick Harrison, a senior editor at Harvest House Publishers, whom I had met at the Mt. Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference. Nick said for the first month of 2011 he would accept story ideas, and he liked Amish and quilting stories.

At first I thought, I’m a man and I know nothing about the Amish or quilting, but I felt compelled to go for it anyway. I didn’t realize it at the time, but God had put a wide-open door in front of me. I went for it and sent Nick a one-sheet for a story called “A Quilt For Jenna.”

What happened then?

Nick really liked the story idea and proposed that we consider it for an anthology of short stories. He asked for some sample chapters so I wrote three short ones, thinking that we were working on a short story.

So you were writing short chapters for a short story. How did it become a novel?

The 2011 Mt. Hermon Conference was coming up and I sent the chapters to Steve Laube, a literary agent, for a critique. At the conference, I met with Steve. He asked if the story could be a novel and if I could make a three-book series out of it. I took a deep breath and said that I could. I spoke with Nick, and he also encouraged me to make it into a novel.

So did you get your book deal then or later?

Much later. I left Mt. Hermon in April with a mission—to write two chapters a week and finish by August. I sent the complete manuscript to Nick and Steve on September 15th. Steve contacted me about representing me, and Nick pitched it to the editorial committee at Harvest House. Then three weeks later, I got an e-mail from Nick that said, “It’s a yes!” I signed with Steve, he negotiated the contract, and we were on the way. In a few short months I had gone from knowing nothing about the Amish or quilting to having a three-book deal with Harvest House and a top literary agent to represent me. I’m now working on the second book, “The Road Home.”

What did you learn from this experience?

I learned two things: first—if the Lord opens a door, step through it, and second—you must let the Lord put you in the way of people who can help you. Writer’s conferences are great for that, and Mt. Hermon is one of the best.

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Patrick E. Craig is a lifelong writer and musician who left a successful songwriting and performance career to follow Christ in 1984. He spent twenty-six years as a worship leader, seminar speaker, and pastor. He signed a three-book deal with Harvest House Publishers for his Apple Creek Dreams series. The first book, A Quilt for Jenna, was released February 1, 2013. You can contact Patrick by email at Patrick@patrickecraig.com or on Twitter @patrickecraig.

Woe! It’s Wednesday

I’ve noticed a theme forming for this year. I often take a word or phrase and try to consciously live it throughout the year. I’ve done Kindness, Speaking the Truth in Love, Defy Gravity. In 2013 the word that keeps cropping up is Fearless. Several books have crossed my path on taming fears.

I don’t tend to think of myself as a fearful person. My husband was a cop for nearly thirty years and people often asked me I worried about him and I truthfully said I did not.

I appear fearless. I’ve gone scuba diving and snorkeling. I rode a bike down Haleakala. I drive in San Francisco and LA. I fly.

But I’m coming to realize that fear and worry are not the same thing.

I am afraid of offending people so I tend to keep my opinions to myself until I feel safe.

I am afraid of being hurt.

In a recent writing exercise, I had to write why I was afraid to write the story. As I wrote a lot of reasons why I wasn’t afraid, it became apparent that I was afraid it would be good and then there would be expectations placed on me to do it again. So I’m afraid of success.

I’m afraid of rejection. I’ve talked about that one before, it’s a big one with me.

I’m a collector of quotes for all occasions. My current favorite is from Jillian Michaels, one of The Biggest Loser trainers. She says, “Feel the fear. Do it anyway.”

That’s my goal for this year. Figure out my fears. Acknowledge them. Do something scary anyway.

Woe! It’s Wednesday

I’ve noticed a theme forming for this year. I often take a word or phrase and try to consciously live it throughout the year. I’ve done Kindness, Speaking the Truth in Love, Defy Gravity. In 2013 the word that keeps cropping up is Fearless. Several books have crossed my path on taming fears.

I don’t tend to think of myself as a fearful person. My husband was a cop for nearly thirty years and people often asked me I worried about him and I truthfully said I did not.

I appear fearless. I’ve gone scuba diving and snorkeling. I rode a bike down Haleakala. I drive in San Francisco and LA. I fly.

But I’m coming to realize that fear and worry are not the same thing.

I am afraid of offending people so I tend to keep my opinions to myself until I feel safe.

I am afraid of being hurt.

In a recent writing exercise, I had to write why I was afraid to write the story. As I wrote a lot of reasons why I wasn’t afraid, it became apparent that I was afraid it would be good and then there would be expectations placed on me to do it again. So I’m afraid of success.

I’m afraid of rejection. I’ve talked about that one before, it’s a big one with me.

I’m a collector of quotes for all occasions. My current favorite is from Jillian Michaels, one of The Biggest Loser trainers. She says, “Feel the fear. Do it anyway.”

That’s my goal for this year. Figure out my fears. Acknowledge them. Do something scary anyway.

Book Talk Tuesday: Still Life

A friend recommended Louise Penny’s series set in Quebec. Still Life is the first and it was cheap on Kindle so I splurged and bought it and read it on a recent car trip. 

I enjoyed it.

Inspector Armand Gamache is called to a village in rural Montreal where an inoffensive retired teacher has been found dead. At first it appears Jane Neal died from a hunting accident but why didn’t the hunter report it? Clara Morrow, Jane’s best friend, is distraught and her husband feels helpless. As the Inspector spends time in Three Pines and gets to know the residents, he sees there is much more to the village than it appears on the surface.

The book is well written, although Penny breaks one of the of the hard and fast “rules” of writing. We’re in multiple points of view throughout the book, often in two or three different heads in the same scene. This doesn’t typically bother me, but I know some readers hate that and I did find it jarring a few times and had to look back to be sure when I thought I’d been in someone else’s head in the previous paragraph.

I’m so backed up with books waiting to be read that I probably won’t seek out the next in the series, but if it were offered to me, I’d put it on my stack.

Book Talk Tuesday: Three Sisters

I’m a newcomer to Susan Mallery’s books but that just gives me more of her backlist to look forward to reading.

Three SistersAndi Gordon was jilted at the altar and in response she did the first impulsive thing in her life: she picked up stakes and moved to Blackberry Island off the coast of Seattle. She buys a worn down house on a cul-de-sac. Her house sits between two others. A perfectly restored home and one with more whimsy.

Artist Boston King thought she and her high school sweetheart husband were going to be together forever. They probably would be, except for the heartbreak that has torn them apart. Each is so wounded they may never find their way through the grief, much less back to each other.

Deanna Phillips confronts her husband about an assumed affair. She discovers that her marriage is in much more trouble than she ever suspected. And it has nothing to do with another woman. Deanna has worked hard to have the perfect family, the perfect marriage, and the perfect home. How will she survive if anyone finds out her life is a sham?

Each of the three women on the street needs a new beginning. Along the way they find each other and the life they are meant to live.

I really enjoyed Three Sisters. It was more women’s fiction that romance, although there’s plenty of that too. In fact, I need to caution my blog readers, there was a bit more sex than in the books I usually recommend, just FYI. Not a lot, but it was there and fairly graphic, although nowhere near pornographic. Okay? Okay.

Anyway, there was humor, heart, and real life. I believed these women could be living on an island, making margaritas, and encouraging each other. None of them pretend to have all the answers. Or any answers. But that’s what made them likeable and made me root for them.

I loved this one. My mountain of To Be Read books is so massive, I’ll likely never see the bottom of it, but I’ll definitely seek out another Blackberry Island novel by Susan Mallery. Anyone who enjoys Kristan Higgins, Jill Shalvis, or Susan Wigg’s Lakeshore Chronicles series will love this one.

Woe! It’s Wednesday

We’re back from Portland and we had a lovely time.

Yes, it rained.  DSC01007

But it didn’t slow us down at all.

I did worry a bit about being disappointed but I wasn’t.

We visited Voodoo Donuts, Stumptown Coffee, Caffee Vita, Jake’s Famous Crawfish, Powell’s Books (it’s free to visit, but we spent money in there at a rate of about $100 an hour), Tillamook Cheese in Tillamook, Penner-Ash Winery, Erath Winery, Chateau Ste. Michelle, The Station Pizzeria, Piazza Italia, Mount Hood, Multnomah Falls (above), Horsetail Falls, Pine State Biscuits (below) and Cannon Beach.

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Did you sense a theme?

We do tend to focus on the food when we travel.

God is so gracious. We never got lost (or so lost we couldn’t figure out where we were). We didn’t argue (until the last day after 10 hours of driving so that’s not only understandable but kind of a foregone conclusion). The weather didn’t stop us from doing what we wanted. We ate some amazing food.

We’re ready to go back anytime.

Spotlight Thursday: Victoria Pitts-Caine

I’ve know Vicki Caine for several years now and am thrilled to be able to tell you about her and her books.

Victoria Pitts Caine is a native Californian and lives in the bountiful San Joaquin Valley. Her varied interests include genealogy and exotic gemstone collecting both of which she’s incorporated into her novels. While her genre is inspirational, she likes to refer to herself as a Christian Romance Adventure Novelist.

The author has received recognition in both fiction and nonfiction from: Enduring Romance top 10 picks for 2008, William Saroyan Writing Conference, Byline Magazine, Writer’s Journal Magazine and The Southern California Genealogical Society. Her first novel, Alvarado Gold, was published in 2007.

Victoria is a former staff technician for the environmental sector working in air pollution control. She is the mother of two daughters. Victoria and her husband enjoy travel, church service and emergency radio communications.

Q. Why did you pick Inspirational romance as your genre?

At first, I wanted to write an adventure novel. I didn’t see myself as a romance writer, but I learned quickly if I didn’t have a genre, I wasn’t going anywhere. I added a romance to my first book, Alvarado Gold, AlvaradoGold_wrp467_120and because of my beliefs and preferences in what I read myself, inspirational was the next step.

Q. Who is one of your favorite characters in your books and why?

There is a little bit of “me” in all of my female characters. Addie Brown is about as close to me as any of my heroines since the book is based on a family story of my own. I’m technically Addie in the family breakdown of the six cousins in the book.


Q. How long does it take you to write a book?

It usually takes me about two years. However, I have one on the back burner I haven’t gotten beyond the first chapter. It is written in a style I’m not familiar with and it takes me to a different place that takes considerable thought.

Q. How did you come up with your titles?

Cairo_CoverAlvarado Gold came from the name of the small town near where my family originally settled in Texas. Cairo, which is the next book in the series, follows Addie and Gary on an ill-fated vacation to Egypt. The Tempering Agent is also set in Egypt and is the third in the series. The title for that book came from the agent mixed into clay that gives it strength and stability. Alvarado Gold is available on Amazon and Cairo and The Tempering Agent will be released this year from PRISM BOOK GROUP

 

Q. When did you start writing?

I wrote a story for an adoption magazine years ago and was urged to have it published in a national magazine. When I didn’t get any takers, I set writing aside for another twenty years until I started attending a writing critique group.  TheTemperingAgent_Cover

Q. How hard was it to find a publisher?

I think the real question for me is: was it hard to find the right publisher? I wanted my three books to be with the same house and when I saw that wasn’t going to happen I looked for a long time to find a house to take the other two. I actually was just short of signing a contract when I realized I couldn’t do everything that particular publisher wanted. As they say, good things come to those who wait because my current publisher is awesome.

Q. What’s new with your writing?

LikeaLily_Piits-CaineI’m excited to announce I’ll have an Easter novella coming out next month with PRISM BOOK GROUP. The name of the story is Like a Lily. I don’t have the exact release date but it will be available on their website and Amazon the first part of March.

 

 

 

 

Purchase information:

Like a Lily: http://www.prismbookgroup.com/LikeaLily.html

Alvarado Gold: Amazon.com paperback and Kindle versions

Cairo and The Tempering Agent: http://www.prismbookgroup.com/victoriapittscaine.html

Website: http://vcaine.homestead.com

Blog: http://victoriapitts-caine.blogspot.com

Email: alvaradogold9@gmail.com

Facebook: facebook.com/victoria.pittscaine.5 or: facebook.com/Victoria.Pitts.Caine