Category Archives: authors

Farewell to the Christian Writers Guild

Mentoring with the Christian Writers Guild

Christian Writers GuildI began mentoring the Guild several years ago, starting with the Pages program for kids when it was first introduced. I was thrilled to be included, and as a former teacher I loved that it gave me the chance to teach again. Over the years the Guild asked me to include Squires (for teens), several of the short adult courses, and in the last year the adult courses referred to as Apprentice and Journeyman Fiction. I also did a couple of critiques, attended the Writing for the Soul conference to take appointments as a mentor, and judged the first round of The First Novel Contest for several years. Besides my students, which I enjoyed walking through these courses, I met other mentors and employees of the Guild that I count among my friends. Wonderful people.

Jerry JenkinsJerry Jenkins

I heard Jerry relate his reasons for buying the Guild in 2001 many times at conferences and meetings we had in Colorado. He believed (and I’m sure he still does) that Christian writers ought be just as good or better than mainstream writers. We should represent Christ by writing with excellence. And to this end he wanted to train Christian writers and the Guild was the way to do that, a means to give back. He gave of his time and his resources. If anyone thinks it was a money maker, they’re wrong.

Anyone who has witnessed his “thick-skinned critiques” understands how much he cared about teaching writers. He even chose carefully each mentor and employee of the Guild. But as time marched on, he wanted to focus on his family and his own novel writing. The time had come to close the doors. Some have reported that he did this “suddenly” but that’s not true. The man doesn’t make impulsive decisions. Not that I’ve witnessed anyway. It was a process.

One thing I learned over the years about the man is that he’s a perfectionist, but a kind one. Did you know he wears an atomic watch so that he’ll always know the exact time? When we had mentor meetings he used it to make sure we started each session on time. So it makes sense that he is now personally making sure the students and members currently enrolled in the Guild finish and receive all they’ve been promised. And the mentors still get paid for the work they have left to do. He is honorable. Make no mistake.

Endings and Beginnings

I hate saying good-bye to an organization that has done so much so well. But an ending creates the opportunity for something else to commence. I am open to that. I’ll be mentoring in other ways, including offering short critiques that interested writers can sign up for right here on my site. But I’m still just a wee bit sad.

What endings have you experienced that ended up opening new doors? Please share!

Loving Books That Read to Me!

Audiobooks to Love

Audiobooks, a blog post by Cindy Thomson

Photo by Sascha Kohlmann

I get my reading done in several ways. I’m not one of those that proclaim ebooks as the only way to go these days or one of those who insist on having a real paper book in their hands. I do it all, including audio, because they each offer their own conveniences. Long car trips call for audiobooks, especially if I’m driving. But I also like to listen while I do the laundry or clean the house or take a walk. You would be surprised how much time there is to read if you take advantage of every opportunity.

Narrators, the Good and the Bad

The quality of audiobooks vary, but I get mine from the library so I don’t mind giving up on them if I don’t care for either the book itself or the narration. Recently I gave up on one because I liked neither. The narrator was so sing-song sweet it made me nauseous. I dislike when the narrator swallows loudly on tape or forgets which character he is voicing and gets it mixed up. Just my own personal pet peeves.

The All-Girl FillingHowever, some are wonderful. Like Fannie Flagg. Oh. My. Goodness. You have to listen to her and her southern drawl. Another author narrator I thought did an excellent job is James Rubart. Some folks just have the voice for it. (Not me!)

I have listened to enough Irish books that I began to recognize the narrator. She has just enough Irish lilt to her voice to add flavor but not so much that we Americans can’t understand her. Her name is Sile Bermingham (Sile is pronounced Sheila.) She narrated Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd and some Maeve Binchy books.

I think Adam Verner does a wonderful job with Stephen Lawhead’s novels. He’s done other work too, but Lawhead is my experience with him. Nice, non irritating voice. Want to have a listen?

Top Honors: My Favorite Narration So Far

Goes to….

The Help by Kathryn Stockett.The Help Different voices for different characters. It was like listening to a play. Of course, it’s a wonderful book as well.

What’s your favorite audiobook?

4 Reasons I Love Book Festivals

Cindy Thomson, Sandy Hart, Books by the Banks

Me with friend and fellow author Sandy Hart who came to see me at Books By The Banks in Cincinnati.

1. A Book Festival is About Readers

It’s not about the authors, regardless of how it might seem. Book festivals are an opportunity for readers to meet authors and ask questions. And boy do readers have questions. I absolutely love that! Everything from why did you write this book to what did you learn while researching this story?

2. It’s a Celebration of Books!

Everyone comes to learn, to gather, to shop for gifts, and they are all there because of books! Children’s books, young adult books, fiction, non fiction, art books, illustrated books, wee books and heavy coffee table books. Librarians, artists, and writers. It’s an atmosphere charged with creativity.

3. I Get Away From My Desk

Cindy Thomson at Books By The Banks in Cincinnati

I was asked to describe myself in one word.

Writing is for the most part a solitary undertaking. Getting out and talking to readers energizes me for the long hours ahead. If I know who I’m writing for, that people are actually enjoying my tales, I feel better about getting writer’s cramp and drinking so much tea while I work. (Well, okay, indulging in so much chocolate too. It’s a necessity.)

4. New Readers are Introduced to My Characters

It’s hard to get noticed these days in the vast ocean of books out there. Going to a book festival enables me to say, hey, here are some new stories you might want to try, to people who might not otherwise run across them. It’s marketing, yes, but for me it’s mostly sharing. Some are not interested, and that’s fine. At least we got to exchange smiles.

What About You? Have you been to a book festival? Which one? What did you like about it? If not, would you consider it sometime? (Just Google book festivals in your area or ask your local librarian where they are.)

If I Won…

awardAnd the Winner is…

Last weekend the annual ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference was held in St. Louis. If you write Christian fiction, you’re probably a member. If you read Christian fiction chances are some of your favorite authors were in attendance. It’s become the premier conference for Christian fiction. I’ve been several times (didn’t go this year) and the gala (which I keep calling the awards banquet because really that’s what it is) is an incredible celebration of Christian fiction.

ACFW Award Categories

The Genesis: Recognizing great unpublished fiction in various categories. (For a list of winners go here.)

Lifetime Achievement Award: This year awarded to novelist Robin Lee Hatcher.

Agent of the Year: This year my very own agent won, Chip MacGregor!

Editor of the Year: Vicki Crumpton, Revell

Mentor of the Year: Martha Rogers

Volunteer of the Year: Julie Klassen

The Carol Awards: Awarded to outstanding novels in various categories.

For the list of winners, go here.

If I Won

Books by Cindy Thomson

Books I’ve written or contributed to.

I’ve never been nominated. By the time I joined ACFW I was already published so not eligible for the Genesis. My novels have not been nominated or even entered. But that hasn’t stopped me from thinking about what I might say should one of my books ever be considered for an honor like this. There is usually not time for an Academy Awards-type speech, so this might not even be possible. But…, just for grins, here’s my acceptance speech. (I would probably change it a million times, so consider this a first draft!)

Being Thankful for Words

Like most people who stand up here, I never expected to win. Well, “I” really didn’t win anything. The award is for the book you saw blown up larger than life on the video screen. It’s the words inside the cover that somehow managed to speak to readers, sometimes in ways I never expected. It’s the characters who speak words that readers experienced as either something they would also say or something they need to hear. It’s the fictional dream that I first dreamt and then shared with my fellow authors and early readers. Their feedback turned my fictional dream into something I could then present to my agent and my editors, who dreamt it too, but not exactly in the form I presented to them. They added, changed, and developed it–keeping my original but making it better. What won today is the dream that each reader who opens the book grasps based on his or her own perceptions and experiences. That is not something I could create and make happen. It’s a book miracle that could only come from the hand of God. Not scripture, but story. Everyone has one, everyone can relate to one. I’m thankful for the words that came. Thank you for celebrating the power of story!

Writer’s World Blog Tour

The Writer’s World Blog Tour Continues!

Fellow Tyndale author Cathy Gohlke invited me to join this blog tour. Several authors around the web will be answering the same questions. Below you’ll find my answers, but before I get to that, you should get to know Cathy and check out her books. I recommend them! Besides being a sister author over at Tyndale, she’s a wonderful weaver of tales. (At the end you can find out who I invited to continue the tour.)

Cathy Gohlke is the two-time Christy Award-winning author of the critically acclaimed novels Saving Amelie, Band of Sisters, Promise Me This (listed by Library Journal as one of the best books of 2012), William Henry is a Fine Name, and I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires (listed by Library Journal as one of the best books of 2008), which also won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Award.

When not traipsing the hills and dales of historic sites in search of a story, Cathy and her husband divide their time between Northern Virginia and the Jersey Shore, thrilled with the new-every-morning joys of grandparenting.
Visit her online at www.cathygohlke.com and on FB at CathyGohlkeBooks.

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And now my part of the Writer’s World Blog Tour

What are you working on?


I’ve been busy promoting my latest release Annie’s Stories all summer. But now I’m beginning to get back to writing. I’m hoping to make some major progress on book three of the series (no publication date is set yet.) This book will feature an Italian immigrant who finds herself suddenly in need of a place to live because her Italian family can longer keep her due to a family secret that is threatening to take away her mother’s mental well-being. The male protagonist is a vaudeville pianist dreaming of being a concert musician and his sidekick is an adorable mutt everyone thinks looks just like the Victor dog on the record labels.

Photo by: The Sun and Doves via Flickr
After that I’ll be working on a different time period–a story with a contemporary line paired with a historical one that involves the Chicago Cubs in 1946.

Here’s a hint, something that will be an important part of the story:

Photo by: fourth photography via Flickr

And, if I decide I don’t need sleep or a clean house, I hope to put my out-of-print novel Brigid of Ireland out as an ebook along with a sequel I wrote years ago.–I guess these are my long-range plans, God willing!

How does your work differ from others in its genre?

In my Ellis Island series I’ve focused on a historical element that is well-known today: the Brownie camera, the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and the Victor dog and “His Master’s Voice.” I focus on the stories of our ancestors and what their lives (which I try to portray as appropriate to the times they lived it) have to teach us today.

Why do you write what you do?

I’m passionate about history and history’s lessons. I’m always exploring what the past can teach us and I believe God has instructed us to learn from the past and to keep the stories of our ancestors in our hearts as we journey along creating our own life stories.
Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.~Jeremiah 6:16 NIV

How does your writing process work?


The toughest question saved for the end! It really depends on whether or not I have a deadline. When I do, I’m committed to putting in several hours a day writing. When I don’t, no matter what I tell myself, I end up writing less. But basically I write full-time so whenever life events don’t get in the way, I’m in my office writing most days.

Learn more about my books on my “books” page tab above or click here.
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And next week continue the tour with these authors:


My friend Danica Favorite’s debut novel will be out this fall! Danica and I have the same agent and we’ve gotten to know each other at conferences and other events, and we both love tea so of course we hit it off!

A self-professed crazy chicken lady, Danica Favorite loves the adventure of living a creative life. She loves to explore the depths of human nature and follow people on the journey to happily ever after. Though the journey is often bumpy, those bumps are what refine imperfect characters as they live the life God created them for. Oops, that just spoiled the ending of all of Danica’s stories. Then again, getting there is all the fun. Her first book with Love Inspired Historical, Rocky Mountain Dreams, is out in November.

www.danicafavorite.com


Carole Brown and I met at our local Ohio ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) group. She has so much passion for writing and promoting her books in the marketplace that at times it’s difficult for me to try to keep up!

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons? 

http://sunnebnkwrtr.blogspot.com/

The Writing Process Blog Tour With Author Tamera Kraft

My friend Cara Putman asked me to participate in this fun blog tour. There are a few short questions to answer, and I’ve done this over on her blog. Click here.

And now, I’m presenting you the answers to those same questions from my author friend Tamera Kraft. Tamera and I first met at our Ohio ACFW meetings. We both love historical fiction and are history nuts.

Tamera will be giving away a paperback copy of her book Solider’s Heart, U.S. entries only, please. (I loved this story, by the way!)

1.    What am I currently working on?

I’m writing a novella set post WW1 in western Ohio. Vivian is left heartbroken and devastated when her fiancé dies in the Great War and her parents die of influenza, leaving her penniless. Henry, best friend of Vivian’s fiancé, returns from the war determined to rescue her from poverty and make her his wife. He promises her it will be a marriage of convenience until she is ready. After a year, Vivian has grown to love Henry, but doesn’t believe he cares for her. Henry has always loved Vivian but doesn’t know how to express it. When a tornado strikes havoc in their lives, they may lose each other before giving their love and marriage a chance.

2.   How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write Christian historical fiction. Although a lot of my novels and novellas have a strong element of romance, they always have a stronger element of adventure. History is full of intrigue, turmoil, and adventure, and that’s what I like to show in what I write.

3.   Why do I write what I do?

History is where I get my ideas. I’ve thought of writing other types of novels since my tastes are eclectic, but I always find my stories when I’m researching historic events. I always wonder what it would have been like for people living through these times.

4.   How does my writing process work?

Usually I get an idea by reading about an event in history. After researching the event, I get to know the characters in my stories. Then I do some planning, but I don’t do the typical outline. I use the Lindy Hop plot points created by Susan May Warren’s My Book Therapy and insert the main points that need to happen throughout the novel. Then I stew about it for a few weeks until it germinates. After that, I sit down and write the thing. I usually create a playlist of instrumental music that goes with the feeling of the story and play the music while I’m writing. If I get stuck, I’ll go back and edit what I’ve done. Usually I find what is missing or what isn’t working while I do the editing. It will get me back on track.

Visit Tamera online: http://tameralynnkraft.net, Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Tamera-Lynn-Kraft/e/B00H9EW5XU/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Enter to win Soldier’s Heart