Ryan M. Phillips Is In Our Author Spotlight!!!

Ryan Phillips Nunez

What’s your name or pen name?

My full name is Ryan Michele Nuñez.  But I write under my maiden name: Ryan M. Phillips.

What are your genres?

I write contemporary Christian fiction, predominately geared toward African-American women.

What have you written?

To date, I have written five novels.  They are:

Saving Grace

After the Fall

Fall from Graceciao bella

Ciao, Bella

I’m in Love with a Church Girl

When did you begin your writing career?

I began writing professionally in 2003 at the age of 21.  But I’ve had a passion and a proclivity for writing for as long as I can remember and have been writing recreationally since childhood.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How do you make time to write?

Oddly, I am both a full-time and a part-time writer.  I am a full-time staff writer for The JESUS Film Project.  I work on my personal writing projects part-time.

What’s your writing process? (Number of days you write per week, a.m. or p.m., specific music you play while writing, or anything else that you feel is a vital part of your creative process.)

I write every day.  Writing is like any other discipline.  As with exercise, you have to make a daily commitment to it in order to see your desired results.  I generally write in the evenings and on the weekends.  If at all possible, I try to work in complete silence; television and music tend to break my train of thought.  And I also prefer to work in a small, closed space with a lot of sunlight.

Do you keep a journal? If so, for how long? Do you find it helpful for your professional writing?

I do keep a journal, but I no longer write daily entries.  During my middle school, high school and college years, I “journaled” religiously.  I think it was cathartic, more than anything.  At this juncture in my life, I only journal as the need arises—maybe to record a dream or to jot down a story idea.  I’m sure it’s helpful for some, but I wouldn’t say it’s an integral part of my writing process.

What’s your inspiration?church girl

Real life is often stranger than fiction, so a lot of my inspiration for characters and storylines come from real people and events.  When I first started reading Christian fiction, I found myself constantly disappointed by the fluffiness of it—unrealistically perfect characters flawlessly navigating themselves through mildly challenging situations.  I am very much inspired by well-written stories in which I can see myself or someone I know struggling, learning, changing and ultimately triumphing.  Those are the stories I try to write.

What kind of legacy do you expect your writing to leave?

I would love it if, one day, others referenced my writing as proof that Christian fiction can be just as entertaining and well-written as mainstream fiction.  Often, the genre sacrifices realness for edification.  But I propose that it is possible to offer both in equal measure.  I would love to pave the way for the next generation to write a different, better brand of inspirational fiction.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

  1. Write!!  I’m always amazed by the number of aspiring writers I meet who admittedly don’t write.
  2. Read.  Read the shampoo bottle, read the cereal box, read books, read magazines, read everything you can get your hands on!  And read out loud, when you can.  Reading helps you get the rhythm of good writing in your ears.
  3. Don’t give up.  Writing professionally is not for the faint of heart.  You will, in all likelihood, get more rejections than you will offers to publish.  But keep pushing forward.  Writing is extremely subjective and what one editor hates, another may absolutely love.  So, if you have a story to tell and you know God has called you to share it with others, hold fast to the knowledge that all things come to pass in His perfect time.

What’s on your bookshelf or in your e-reader library?

A few of my favorite authors are: Emily Giffin, Jennifer Weiner, Jane Green, Sophie Kinsella / Madeleine Wickham, Wally Lamb, Nick Hornby, Jodi Picoult, Jhumpa Lahiri.  If they’ve written it, I’ve read it (or pre-ordered it)!

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on my sixth novel, ‘Till Death Do Us Part.  I also recently started my own publishing company, Freedom Line Publishing.  We will be releasing our first three titles in early 2014.  And we’ll also be accepting manuscripts for consideration starting January 1, 2014.

Latest release and book blurb?

My latest novel, I’m in Love with a Church Girl came out in October 2013.  It’s based on the major motion picture of the same name, starring Ja Rule and Adrienne Bailon.  While it’s not my story, I had a great time adapting the screenplay into a novel.  It’s the true life story of the producer, Galley Molina—a drug dealer turned born-again believer and pastor.

How can we purchase your work?

You can purchase my novels anywhere books are sold.—Amazon.com, BN.com, Walmart, Books-A-Million, etc.

How can we stay in touch with you?

Website: www.ryanmphillips.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ryanmphillipsbooks

Freedom Line Publishing: www.freedomlinebooks.com (starting January 1, 2014)

Read sample chapters of all of Ryan’s books here. You won’t be disappointed!

Sunshine Blogger Award!!!!!

SunshineI got my first blogging award y’all! I’m very pleased indeed. Sometimes when you’re a blogger it can pretty much seem as though you are talking to yourself. I don’t have a problem with that. In fact, sometimes I answer back lol. Still, it’s ice to know somebody is paying attention. Anyway, I’ve received a Sunshine Blogger Award from my cyber friend Quanie Miller of Quanie Talks Writing. Check out her blog here for great blogging information, author features and all around fun! The Sunshine Blogging Award is passed on by bloggers to other bloggers who “positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” One part of accepting the award is answering questions about yourself, which is great because I am one of my favorite subjects. So here goes!

When did you start your blog and why?

I started my blog on October 16, 2013. I’m a newbie! You can read my very first post here.

Was there ever a time you thought about giving your blog up? Why or why not?

I have not thought about giving up yet. I’m new to the blogging game though, so I’m sure that day will come. When it does, I plan to ignore it. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

If you could give any word of advice to writers/bloggers, what would it be?

Write about what you are interested in and what you would like to know more about it. Blogging is a big commitment and it requires a lot of research. If you are interested in your subject matter, it becomes so much easier. I love learning and sharing and I hope I can eventually use my blog to build a community of writers encouraging and motivating each other.

What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?

I have a hair obsession. It monopolizes a great deal of my time. As soon as I finish this post I am perusing YouTube for inspiration on what kind of ‘doo’ I want for Thanksgiving.

If you lived your life without fear what’s the one thing you would do?

Go camping; it seems so peaceful and inspiring. But I’m terrified of animals. Which is weird because they LOVE me. It makes for some very uncomfortable situations.

What advice would you give to a younger you?

Pursue your passion of writing with all your heart. Don’t wait and don’t let everyday life distract you. Oh, and stop trying to pretend you’re normal. It’s overrated.

Let’s say your life is a movie and you had to write the log line. What would it be?

Wow, this is a hard one. I guess it would be, “Is She For Real?” I’m a bit of a hot mess. I’m never bored though.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning?

Hit the snooze button. I am sooooo not a morning person.

What’s your favorite inspirational quote?

“What other people think of me is none of my business.” Words I live by.

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Martin Luther King Jr. because he impacted the world in such a way that my very destiny as an African-American woman was forever changed before I was even born.

Thanks for reading y’all. Now that you know a little about me, I’d love to get to know you better as well! If you had to write the tag line for your life as a movie, what would it be?

St. Jude’s ‘Give Thanks’ Walk Re-Cap

This past weekend I froze for a great cause: St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital’s annual ‘Give Thanks’ walk. It was cold. It was rainy. It was windy. It was also fun! Along with a few hundred other ‘Mempians’ my family and I walked 3 miles for a great cause. Well…they did. I cheated just a little. More on that later.

First let me tell you a little about St. Jude’s:

The mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay. Source

That’s right. If a family can’t afford to pay, they can still get state of the art treatment at St. Jude’s. How amazing is that? I can only imagine how stressful caring for an ill child is in and of itself. Adding financial strain to the mix just seems like cruel and unusual punishment. I am so grateful that places like St. Jude’s exist. It was so worth freezing for a couple of hours.

Sooooooo on the day of the ‘Give Thanks’ walk me, my sister, my aunt and a couple of my cousins braved the 30 degree weather all bundled up and raring to go. That didn’t last long. Especially for me. I’m still a California girl at heart and me, plus cold weather, equals a VERY unhappy camper. So I’ll let you all in on a little secret: about 40 minutes into the walk we turned the bend and I caught sight of my sister’s car. Just sitting there. Calling me into its warmth. My eyes were watering, my ears were aching from the wind continuously blowing my hoodie off, and my feet were numb. Needless to say I took a little detour and spent 15 glorious minutes in the car defrosting. By the time my sister came back around I gleefully joined her in time to cheer my way across the finish line and pose for a few misleading photos. Don’t judge me! My donation still counted. Any-who, check out a few pics from my walk of shame.

Even though the walk is over, you can still donate here if you like. Be blessed!

st judes walk signstartAviary Photo_130298178645673219Aviary Photo_130298178915843555Aunt excitedGroup shot at starttarget cheerleadersAviary Photo_130298184123067360Aviary Photo_130298183905712275Aviary Photo_130298184570121936

You Are Beautiful!!!!

Get ready to go on an emotional ride with Mike Young as he delivers a passionate and exceedingly powerful message via the art of spoken word from a spiritual perspective. You are all beautiful!

Did this poem speak to your heart? I LOVE hearing from my readers! Please feel free to comment below.

Deanna Lynn Sletten Is In Our Author Spotlight!

Deanna 1 2013

What’s your name or pen name?

I write under my real name – Deanna Lynn Sletten.

What are your genres?

I have written two novels in the romance genre and two in women’s fiction/family drama. I’ve also written one that is a middle grade adventure novel. The novel I am currently writing is in the contemporary women’s fiction/family drama genre.

What have you written?

I’ve written five full-length novels so far and am working on my sixth. My latest release is Maggie’s Turn. It’s a family story about a wife and mother of two teenage children who just drives off one day without planning to and goes on an adventure of self-exploration. While she’s away, her husband soon learns how much he’s been taking advantage of her and finds out that what she does for the family is much more important than he’d thought. As the story unfolds, we soon learn why Maggie felt compelled to leave, and what it will take to compel her go home again.

When did you begin your writing career?

I started writing years ago as a freelance writer for parenting magazines. During that time, I also wrote three of my novels. Back then, self-publishing was looked down upon and was also expensive to do, and the only other choice was to find an agent and publisher. After countless rejections, I just put my manuscripts away and moved on. Years later I was once again freelance writing, this time for blogs and websites, when I learned about the new self-publishing phenomenon going on. That’s when I put all my energy into publishing my past novels and writing new ones.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How do you make time to write?

I am lucky enough to be in the position where I can now spend all my time writing and I no longer have to work at a nine-to-five job. I no longer freelance as an article writer either. Of course, this came after years of working outside the home and raising children. But it was worth the wait. Now I can focus completely on my writing and on promotion which is at least fifty percent of a self-published writer’s job. How do I make time to write? I usually write in the evenings and late at night when the house is quiet and there is nothing to interrupt me.

What’s your writing process? (Number of days you write per week, a.m. or p.m., specific music you play while writing, or anything else that you feel is a vital part of your creative process.)

I don’t set a schedule to write, but I do try to write a little every day. I generally write an hour or two in the afternoon and then about two hours at night. I have to have total silence when I write. That way I am able to concentrate completely on the story with no distractions. While I am writing, I picture the story like it is a movie playing out in front of me. Silence allows me to immerse myself into the story.

Do you keep a journal? If so, for how long? Do you find it helpful for your professional writing?

No, I don’t keep a journal. All my free time is spent writing my novels.

What’s your inspiration?

Anything can inspire a story. A line from a movie. A song. Even a conversation I might overhear in a restaurant. I never know when an idea will hit, but when it does, my mind takes off with it.

What kind of legacy do you expect your writing to leave?

I’ve never thought about my writing in terms of a “legacy”. I just hope that people will enjoy my stories for as long as possible.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I would encourage aspiring writers to not give up no matter what others tell you, and finish your novel. Always have an editor, or at the very least, a proofreader, look over your manuscript before publishing. Even if you have perfect language skills, an editor or proofreader will be able to find any small errors or flaws in the story that might make a big difference in your story. You don’t want to receive bad reviews just because you missed a few typos or used the wrong name once in your story. Readers will notice, so be sure to put out the best story possible.

What’s on your bookshelf or in your e-reader library?

I have many, many books in my e-reader to be read right now. I am always looking for new authors to read, so I do download freebies that look interesting or .99 cent deals from indie authors. I have three new ones I can’t wait to read by Melanie Jackson. I also recently bought The Help, and am looking forward to reading it since I loved the movie. Currently, I am reading The Christmas Contract by Jan Romes. I love her books.

What are you currently working on?

I am only a chapter away from finishing up my next novel which is a Contemporary Fiction/Family Drama. It’s the story of a teenaged girl from California who goes to live with the grandfather she’s never met in northern Minnesota after the death of her mother. She doesn’t want to go there and he doesn’t want her there. And the drama ensues. Since this is more of a summer novel, I plan to publish it sometime around March 2014.

Maggie's Turn Amazon w Tagline

Latest release and book blurb?

My latest release is MAGGIE’S TURN. It is a Contemporary Women’s Fiction/Family Drama novel. Here is the book description:

Sometimes you just have to walk away…to rediscover who you are.

Maggie Harrison is a devoted wife and mother, always putting the needs of her family ahead of her own. Then, one day, without planning to, she drives away, leaving behind an indifferent husband and two sulking teenagers. Maggie goes off on a quest of self-exploration, enjoying adventures, meeting new people, and rediscovering her passions. For the first time in years, she dreams about what she wants out of life, and she realizes that her deteriorating marriage can no longer continue as it is. Can she and Andrew repair their floundering relationship, or is their marriage over?

Andrew Harrison likes his life to be in perfect order. He enjoys his work and status in the community, leaving Maggie to take care of everything at home. He knows his marriage isn’t perfect, but after twenty-three years and two kids, whose marriage is? When Maggie leaves without a word, he is forced to start paying more attention to his home life and his almost grown children, and he begins to do a little self-exploration of his own. Slowly, he begins to understand what drove Maggie away, and how important she is in his life. Is it too late to resolve their differences and save their marriage? Or will Andrew lose Maggie forever?

Tell us about your main character? What actress or actor would you cast to play him or her in a movie about your book?

Maggie is your everyday mother who takes care of all the family’s needs as well as works outside the home. She’s tired, and feels unappreciated. Plus, her marriage is hanging in the balance. All of her dreams have been pushed aside by the needs of her kids and her husband’s dreams. One day she drives away to spend a day doing something she loves and finds she doesn’t – simply can’t – go back until she is able to resolve the problems in her marriage and make changes in her life. What ensues is a road trip of self-discovery as she shares meaningful conversations with her husband and daughter on the phone, trying to fix what went wrong.

I’m not sure which actress would be right for Maggie in a movie. I see Maggie as a real person already, so it’s hard for me to pick an actress who can play her.

How can we purchase your work?

You can view all of my novels at my Website: http://www.deannalsletten.com

Maggie’s Turn can be purchased at:

Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Maggies-Turn-ebook/dp/B00DZVZ1FK

Amazon Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Maggies-Turn-Deanna-Lynn-Sletten/dp/1491277289/

B&N Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/maggies-turn-deanna-lynn-sletten/1117145608?ean=2940148377009

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/maggie-s-turn

How can we stay in touch with you?

My Blog: http://www.deannalynnsletten.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/dsletten

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DeannaLynnSletten

Twitter: @DeannaLSletten

Author Bio

Deanna Lynn Sletten writes women’s fiction and romance novels that dig deeply into the lives of the characters, giving the reader an in-depth look into their hearts and souls. She has also written one middle-grade novel that takes you on the adventure of a lifetime.

Deanna’s romance novel, Memories, was a semifinalist in The Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Books of 2012. Her novel, Sara’s Promise, was a semifinalist in The Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Books of 2013 and a finalist in the 2013 National Indie Excellence Book Awards.

Deanna is married and has two grown children. When not writing, she enjoys walking the wooded trails around her northern Minnesota home with her beautiful Australian Shepherd or relaxing in the boat on the lake in the summer.

OMG, aren’t you just dying to know what kind of adventure awaits Maggie? Find out by getting your copy of “Maggie’s Turn” here!

What We Lost

Violence

No longer divided by the government

We segregate ourselves

Fearing and hating each other

Not only for the shade of our skin

But for the colors of our bandanas

Don’t we all bleed eternal ribbons of red?

Don’t we all grieve vast oceans of blue?

Don’t we all cry salt?

Don’t we all feel pain?

Pain brought on by

Senseless

Ruthless

Wasteful

Killing

Maiming and spirit crushing

And for what?

Momentary fleeting instances of false power

At what cost?

The wailing of rage spilled in the streets

What are we gaining?

Nothing

What have we lost?

Values too vital for these few words

Time that is fluid

Not dissected into Before and After

Only one word can come close to

The Answer

Everything

Correction, maybe two

Life

Aren’t they one and the same?

Has your life been impacted by gang violence? Are you a non-violence advocate? Chime in below!

Thomas Hawk / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

If You Don’t Buy It, No One Else Will

james-i-think-your-covers-blown_l

Last week I had two job interviews in one day. Why I scheduled it that way, I could not tell you. Anyhow, I survived and on the drive home I got to thinking: I just had to sell myself and my capabilities to several people in under an hour each. I say several because one of the interviews consisted of a panel. All of them had copies of my technical resume listing my skills and accomplishments.  However, what I put on paper alone could never guarantee me a job. Interviews are still a vital part of the hiring process because good interaction is what seals the deal. The same is true for professional writing.

Since my whole life revolves around thinking about all things written I started to analyze why it is so important to be able to sell yourself as a writer. Every query letter, every synopsis of your latest novel, every ‘elevator spiel’ is you selling yourself for potential literary gain.  A query letter is a single page informal resume in which you need to hook the reader immediately. What sets your novel apart from the rest? What qualifies you to write about this subject? What is your target demographic? A synopsis is a detailed play by play of each segment or chapter in your book. It needs to be organized and succinct; a clear outline of what happens in your book. And then there is the elevator spiel: giving a brief overview of your book in under two minutes, about the time of an elevator ride.

Because I love you all and because I am learning and sharing as I go, I plan to devote time to detailing each of these aspects of selling yourself in the near future. My first piece of advice in this series is to believe in yourself. Be very well acquainted with what you have to offer and why the ‘buyer’ has got to have it. It’s easy to sell a product you stand behind wholeheartedly.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I got the job.

Photo credit: laverrue / Foter.com / CC BY