Today on our blog we are featuring more of Jan Hill's interview. You can read the first part of her interview here. Jan is a great author and we love having her be apart of our team here at BYCT. To read more about Jan or to purchase one of her books click here.
"I was raised on a small farm in Milo, Idaho, the second of seven children. I often define my life in stages because they were pivotal points when I could have chosen very different paths and might not even be here today. When I was five, my mother blamed me for the accident that nearly ended my younger brother’s life and left him handicapped. It was something I never recovered from and made me want to protect and take care of everyone. I never learned how to relax and be a child.
When I was in the third grade, I contracted Rheumatic Fever and spent six months in bed with no one to look after me because my mother was working away from home and my father was in the fields. The illness damaged my heart and I was never able to do anything physically exerting. I couldn’t even take P.E. The next year, my violin teacher molested me, but in those days, children were not believed. They were just left to suffer in silence.
My father died when I was thirteen. I had two more bouts with Rheumatic Fever before I graduated high school, and something associated with one of the outbreaks caused half of my hair to fall out. My mother had a nervous breakdown when I was a senior, and I ended up leaving home, never to return again except for an occasional visit. Being separated from my siblings was probably the most difficult thing I ever went through because I was truly on my own after that.
My beloved grandmother died when I was a freshman in college. I didn’t get married until I was twenty-three and that was not a healthy relationship because I didn’t know how to find one. I suffered numerous miscarriages and was never able to carry a child to term, but I was blessed with two amazing children – a son and a daughter whom I adopted. They have been the greatest joy of my life.
In my thirties, I had an emergency hysterectomy right after losing my last baby. Eight different types of uterine tumors were found, each in a different stage towards malignancy. That plunged me into the darkest depression of my life where I wandered down by the river at night for months wondering why I just couldn’t die. I pleaded to be given the strength to keep it together for my children. That was lovingly granted to me, along with a lot of other insights.
When I was divorced a few years later, I was told by my principal to watch my back because the good people of my home community were out to crucify me even though I had done nothing wrong except remove myself from a very toxic situation that was hurting everyone in it. I had to start over with nothing to fall back on. I have lived with severe bouts of despair, anxiety and a total loss of self-esteem.
All I’ve ever wanted was to be in a loving, committed relationship but that has never happened, and the more I interact with other people, the more I come to understand that few lives are turn out as expected. That’s why I write what I do. I want people to understand that no matter what horrible situation they may find themselves in they are not alone. There are other people who share their pain, and God is always there to lift them when they cannot make it on their own any longer.
The Brylee Hawkins Saga:
As a series, this story has been amazing to write. It started as a way to keep my sanity at school during the last two years when I was a lead witness in a federal court case – something new and terrifying that nearly destroyed my physical and emotional health. I’m not even sure how Brylee came into being. One day she just appeared on paper heading off into an unknown future where the past and the present would collide and where she would be faced with making decisions and coming to terms with things she never dreamed possible.
I loved her from the beginning because she had tenacity and spunk, yet she was terrified of making wrong decisions and hurting other people. She wanted to forgive her father and accept what he’d done because her religious beliefs told her that was the right thing to do, but she was very human and had a great deal of trouble resolving anything. Like so many of us, she got caught up in circular thinking and hoping things would automatically change. It took multiple experiences until she was able to accept that what she had planned for her life might not be what God intended. When she finally let him in and quit trying to retake control, she was given the strength and the courage to accept his will, not hers.
All the other characters were equally as important to me because they faced their own struggles and had diverse ways of dealing with reality. They were like any other family – complex, human and sometimes not very lovable – but I’m very glad I got to know them and hope other people will too. They teach us that family really is everything, and with God at the helm we can accomplish anything.
Hardest and easiest things about writing:
The easiest and most fun is allowing my mind to wander wherever my characters want to go. I don’t mind where they take me because I can always figure out the omissions later like what prompted the experience, who else might be involved, or how it will eventually turn out. I just sit back and enjoy the journey whether they’re doing something mundane like I do most of the time, or are off having an adventure I will only be able to picture in my mind. That’s the wonderful thing about imagination – I can still be young and can enjoy everything I missed out on – if only vicariously. I love rereading parts of the story and wondering where it came from because it’s so different from any occurrence or emotion I’ve ever had, at least consciously.
The hardest part is all the rewriting and editing so the story flows and makes sense to someone other than me. I treat each word individually and try to decide if it’s worth keeping. Some writers can’t bear to give up anything on the printed page, but I’m not like that. If it doesn’t work or something would sound better, I’m perfectly happy to erase words or entire paragraphs. It’s hard and tedious work, and most of the time it takes far longer for me than writing the original manuscript. It’s the part where I wonder if I really want to do it, or if I’d rather just play around with ideas for the rest of my life.
My books are like my children. I want to enjoy them, and I don’t want anyone else to ridicule or censure, but sometimes it just has to be done. That’s what brings growth and understanding. It’s the most difficult part of any life experience, but it can be the most rewarding because it can show us just how far we’ve come.
Thoughts on writing a book series:
I never thought I’d actually write a series. All of the books I’d written in the past had been easily concluded in about 350 pages. Brylee’s story was originally one very long book. When it was accepted for publication, Andre told me that since it was so extensive it could easily be made into four books. That was an impressive idea but I never imagined it would eventually turn into seven books. I worked for several months making the breaks in the story like he suggested. That meant adding a little more to each portion so it would be the necessary length, but it also gave me time to explore each character in more depth and add interesting tidbits about their lives that would help move the rest of the story along and give them more depth. The last three books were a real joy to write. I completed the first draft of all of them in less than six months. That meant working some really lengthy days – up to seventeen hours in front of the computer. The characters told me what they wanted to say, and the conclusion was just the ending to part of their story. There are still many things Brylee, Jake, LeAnn, the twins and both Trevor and Jackie could say. I never know when one of them might move me to action again. All of the characters in the series have become dear friends, even the ones I didn’t like, and I’d like to know what happened to them. Maybe someday I’ll find out.
That said, I love writing series now and have started on a new one that will be at least five books in length. When that is completed, I plan on taking all of my earlier books and combining them into an ongoing series under an umbrella title since they touch on so many important issues that are relevant today like the inability to have children, the loss of a spouse, divorce, abuse, peer pressure, career choice, overcoming incredible odds, staying the true course, trying to make righteous decisions in a fallen world and many other things. It will be fun visiting those characters again and finding out what they’ve learned.
Best Books and Blogs of 2017
Recapping at the end of each year is a great way for us to see what our readers and followers like. As much as we like writing about things we enjoy, we are more fulfilled when are readers are happy too! We wanted to highlight our top three blogs this year and our three best selling books in the bookshop.
#1 3 Gerunds That Change Literature
This was our number one viewed blog for 2017. One of our main goals for 2017 was to keep things positive. So writing a blog post on our tagline seemed perfect for this trend.
#2 The Structurer or The Explorer
This was one of our favorite blogs to write. Understanding where you are on the scale as a writer helps the writing process go more smoothly and clears your mind for imagination and creativity.
#3 Ten Mistakes That Prevent Writers from Being Authors
Our most viewed blog posts always seemed to offer something valuable to our readers. This year we are going to continue to giving tips and advice for those who are looking to get published!
Best Books of 2017
Fulfilling a promise to her fiancé, Brylee Hawkins, must travel back to where she was born, the Australian outback, and forgive her father for what she knows as an unforgivable sin. Yet when she arrives, as memories flood back, she begins to learn the truth about what really happened, exposing old secrets, including the family she never knew.
Based on the premise that the current generation is made up of newly-evolved humans, Preparing the Millennial Parent takes the stand that traditional parenting styles of parenting will be generally unsuccessful in achieving the parenting goals of parents and care-givers. With that understood it offers a comprehensive and unique view to parenting in orderly and purpose driven steps.
“The Union of Brothers” is a fictionalized account of my great grandfather's life, his service in the Civil War and his struggle to make it home. Firman Kirk was a nineteen year old lumberman in the Mountains of Central Pennsylvania when he was recruited to join the 1st Rifles, 13th Reserves, 42nd.Regiment of the newly formed Pennsylvania Reserve Corp. This unit is more commonly known as the "Bucktails." He meets a young woman, Ophelia, on the eve of his departure for army training at Camp Curtin. She becomes his foundation of strength when he doubts the chances of his living through battles from Antietam Creek, Gettysburg and through other historic battles far from home. His survival of Andersonville prison rest with a lock of hair from Ophelia, whom he hopes to marry after the war, sent in a previous letter. How did he survive? How did their love endure the many battles? This historical fiction novel will keep you turning pages.
Stop Wanting and Start Doing
With the new year coming around the corner many of us take this time to reevaluate ourselves. We first look at the things we accomplished but we usually get stuck on what we didn't. How can we end the year saying "I did" more than "I wanted to do?" One of our favorite blogs "Goins, Writer" wrote a inspiring post on this subject which we posted along with our bog today. Jeff says we need more action in our words to reach our goals. You can read his thoughts here.
This year we suggest you use SMART goals to determine what things will be at the top of your to-do list.
If your goal is to finish a novel in a year... make sure you set smaller goals that help you achieve the overall goal. This keeps your goals specific and helps keep you on track. There are many ways to measure goals but we suggest getting a goal journal. Keeping track of your goals by a journal forces you to revisit your goals and see your progress or no progress. You can decide to track daily, weekly, or monthly. It doesn't matter how you measure your progress but it matters that you do. By measuring you are holding yourself accountable to your "wants." Achievable is probably them most important of the SMART goals. If you don't set a goal that is achievable you might as throw in the white towel January 1st. You know your limits and what you can actually accomplish. Don't get caught up in the "wants" that reality won't allow you to finish. By creating a year plan this can help you keep your goals in reach. Result-focused goals are important because it helps us grow. If we set a goal that doesn't get anything done then what is the point? Set goals that push you to become a better you. By keeping your goals "SMART" you are one step closer to saying "I DID."
If you haven't had a chance to read our WINTER WONDERLAND promotion you can do so here! Happy Holidays!
Book Reviews, Giveaways and More...
Life Is What It's Called Book Review:
"Brylee Hawkins left home five years ago when she felt her father did something unforgivable. Her new fiancè wants her to make peace with her father and fix their broken relationship before they make wedding plans. Brylee goes home to the Australian Outback to find more conflict than she could ever imagine and a tangled web of lies.
I found The Brylee Hawkins Saga: Secrets filled with drama as Brylee Hawkins returns home to find home not quite as she expected. Layers and layers of secrets and lies unfold as the story progresses. Brylee was a likeable character and it was interesting to see her outward reaction and her inward thoughts to various situations. The characters in this book are in nowise perfect and the foreshadowing not always trustworthy, which made the book seem realistic and kept me guessing. I also enjoyed the descriptions of the Australian Outback. To find out more about Secrets, click here.
The publisher, Books You Can Trust, has generously allowed me to giveaway an ebook version of Secrets.The giveaway on this blog post will run through rafflecopter until December 20, 2017 at 12 am. The giveaway is open to US residents only and 18+. The winner will be notified via email and will have 24 hours to respond."
Don't forget our Winter Wonderland Promotion. Happy Holidays fellow book lovers! (Click the link for the book promotion)
How Reading Improves Your Body and Mind
Are you one of those countless people who don’t make regular reading a priority? You are mostly likely missing out. This info-graphic provided by The Expert Editor might just inspire you to add another New Year resolution to your list!
If you aren't an avid reader at heart, our suggestion is to start small! Maybe set a goal to read a book every other month for 2018 and then bump it up monthly by 2019. You are mostly likely missing out. Let us help you with your goals and click the link below for a free ebook today. Happy Reading!
Click here to download your FREE ebook and get reading today!
Ten Mistakes That Prevent Writers from Being Authors
Every writer makes mistakes. By eliminating most common mistakes in your novel you will be an author, not just a writer. We accumulated a short list of the Top Ten most common mistakes in writing and what YOU can do to avoid them. Even established authors sometimes find themselves lost over these mistakes. Learn how to find them, changed them and write impeccable stories that will turn heads.
#1: Are you telling or showing?
When you write that a character saw, heard, smelled or felt something… reword it to SHOW what it is the character is seeing, hearing, smelling or feeling.
#2: Overusing “I” in First-Person Narrator
Don’t begin every sentence using “I.” Remember the first mistake? Show, don’t tell.
#3: Too Many Characters
Evaluate how essential your characters are. Do you really need all eleven characters? Is there a way you could combine two or more characters to condense your cast and organize the story? Perhaps call them “the twins” instead of Lucy and Lillian?
#4: Too Much Explaining
Be aware that you aren’t flooding your readers with explanations. Be aware of the reasons why you’re including an individual explanation, and evaluate its value and don’t be nervous to cut it if it’s interrupting the information that’s important to your story. Try not to insult your readers with over explanations.
#5: Not Enough Explaining
Authors know their stories so well they assume the readers do too. Circulate the information throughout different scenes giving readers a full visual of your characters. Show your readers what the narrator already knows. Find a good balance of sharing information. Enough, but not too much.
#6: “Suddenly” Ironic Tendencies
Overusing the word “suddenly” lessens the effect it’s trying to establish. If something is supposed to have a sudden effect then the act itself should show that. If you have to use the word to show its urgent action, then rewrite the paragraph without it.
#7: Opening Lines that Bore to Death
Boring lines fail to draw readers further into the story. It’s that simple. Reevaluate your opening lines to ensure your readers stick around to finish the book.
#8: Irrelevant Scenes
Irrelevant scenes will derail your story. How do we know if your readers will think they are unnecessary? Look for the loose ends in your novel and mentally delete them. This can be hard because sometimes the smaller scenes are the fun scenes to write. You will be doing your novel a favor by getting rid of them.
#9: Complex Plots That Go Too Far
The major pitfall with overly complex plots is that authors fail writing a story that they don’t fully understand themselves. We want our plots to be complex so they challenge our readers but we don’t want to get lost in those ideas. You’ll be able to tell if your plot to too complex if you’re telling more than one story. Pick the story you want to tell and go from there.
#10: Events That Don’t Move the Plot Forward
Sure it would be fun to add a scene you’ve been thinking about for sometime. Does it move the story forward? If so, I say do it! If not, save it for a novel it will. Adding events that don’t move the story forward will derail your readers.
Give Thanks and Be Happy
If you haven't read our Thanksgiving Gift you can! Click the link below for a FREE Ebook of our best seller.
We hope your Thanksgiving is full of family, food, travel and of course reading. In light of giving thanks to all our blessings, we want to give special thanks to books. Read the history on books HERE
Keep your friends and your family close this holiday season, count your many blessings and read lots of books! Check out our online bookshop and gift books this year. Happy Thanksgiving!
How Blogs Increase Sales
The Internet has changed everything in the world of marketing books. Authors can easily create a blog with hopes of increasing readership along with increasing sales, however, the task of doing so can be much more than expected. But why? Many times authors who know how to write go into creating a blog thinking that is all it takes. We are here to tell you, that is just simply not the case. Here are a few things to consider before jumping all into creating and running a blog.
Is blogging right for you?
Do you know how to start a blog?
What style of blog do you like?
How can you market yourself and your blog to gain fans?
How do you turn readers into customers?
Style, Content, and Readers
While starting a blog is great, it’s important to focus on what your blog is intended to do. This will help develop a style and help brand you and your books. What are you going to write about? An easy and great way to start writing blog posts is to write on the simple but important things. Who are you? What value do you hold to potential readers? Maybe write an overall FAQ post that will answer frequently asked questions. The reason authors decide to blog and find success really comes down to the dedication of yourself as an author and your book. To find success we have few tips. Get involved in your blogging community. Comment on posts of other similar blogs. Be genuinely interested in the people within your industry. You can also invite other bloggers to be guest on your blog and try engaging on social media. Readers who are interested in your industry will find your blog and enjoy it!
If you haven't download our FREE Ebook we are giving away for the month of November, you can do that here!
6 Steps To Writing Your Best Novel Yet
Writing a novel can be an emotional journey. With the figurative ups and downs in your novel as well as the literal ones you experience writing it. Talking with our authors we have been able to pin point a Six step process that is essential to writing a great novel.
1. Contemplating. Contemplate on your idea. Take notes and understand your main character. Secondary characters will come as you write and may even surprise you. However, you should know your main character and know what it is you want them to accomplish through out the story.
2. Create a Schedule. Writing a novel is made up of two different compartments. One compartment you have complete control over while the other you do not. The first compartment is mostly connected with step one, Creativity in which you have complete and utter control. On the contrary the other crucial compartment in novel writing is called The System. Included in The System category would be editing, formatting, cover design, more editing and so on and so fourth. (If you haven’t yet checked out our publishing services you can do so HERE )
So create a schedule that will help keep your goals on track. If you want to turn your manuscript in within six months you can start by diving the word count by the days you have to write and schedule writing into your calendar. It doesn’t matter how you create a schedule it only matters that you do.
3. Point of View: Who is reading your book? Decide this before diving in because changing the point of view can be not only difficult and timely but confusing enough to where you have a different story all said and done.
4. Plot and Conflict. Now that you understand your main character make a simple outline to help guide the main character through the story. This will lead right to the next step, character development, because conflict will arise as you introduce new characters.
5. Character Development. This process can be long and ever changing. As your novel unwinds so do your characters. Your first draft should be focused on the plot and dialogue making sure your story makes sense and you aren’t getting caught up in details. As you move through that first draft began to make decisions about each of your characters and as you go back as a second draft adding more characterization and details will take your writing from a story to a novel.
6. Starting. Now go back to your small outline you made for plot and conflict and start a scene. It doesn’t even need to be the beginning of the novel but have a clear understanding of what you would like to accomplish in that scene. Some scenes are fillers the give information to the audience while others tackle a bigger issue at hand. Knowing the purpose of the scene will help you stay on the right path during the writing process.
Using these six steps can help you through those ups and downs. Believe it or not next thing you know you’ll have one heck of a story!
P.S. Check out our BookShop for great examples of this 6 Step Process. Our authors are great and their books are better! :) CLICK HERE TO SHOP
Do It Right and "Know" Either Way
The question that has been debated for years...
To write what you know? Or to write what you don’t know?
No matter which way you argue, we believe it is most important to stay true to yourself. Now if that means you feel more confident writing about things that are familiar to you then write that. On the contrary… if you have the desire and the skills to research then roll with it. Whichever you choose, always stay true to yourself.
Side note: Did you know we are giving away a FREE Ebook the ENTIRE month of November? Click Here if you haven't downloaded it yet... Okay, back to the blog.
Reasons To Write What You Know
Reasons why it’s usually better to write what you already know:
Research What You Don’t Know
However, it is still important to check things. Verifying certain facts about the timeline, geography or anything you deem important should be double checked if you have any doubt your readers won’t buy it.
Researching is great break from writing. It can help bring your writing full circle for a perfect solution. Having issues where your story goes next? Do a little research and see if that helps the creative juices flow.
As writers, we have the access (legitimate sources from the internet) to get the facts straight and so we should. Going the extra mile will make your fictitious book REAL to your readers.