Archive for the ‘Q&A’ Category

Author Forum: How Do You Choose a Book Title?

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This is the fifth of a multi-part series by guest blogger Ivy Cheng tapping into the expertise of several seasoned Ambassador authors. The first post offered tips on dealing with writer’s block. The second post covered the influence other writers can have on your work, the third discussed managing a writing schedule within a busy life and last week’s post provided insight into starting a book project.

Although we always say never judge a book by its cover, it cannot be denied that first impressions are important. When you pick up a book, the first thing you see is a book’s title and cover. It is important to find a title that grabs the reader’s attention, makes an impact, and also reflect the book itself. That is a lot of expectations heaped on just a few words.

 

Juana M9781620202913-e1414700233650ikels – Author of Choosing Him All Over Again 

I was so honored to be a guest on Elisabeth Elliot’s radio program in 1997. We had begun a writing correspondence and she mentored me through her letters. She asked me to come on her program and tell our story. After we finished taping 3 days worth of programs, she said, “Juana, you know you are going to have to write a book. Call it, “Don’t Dump Him.” I was so busy with 4 young children, and my fourth child was born totally blind and partially deaf. Twelve years went by as I was a dyed-in-the-wool stay-at-home-mother and found motherhood absolutely a calling and delightful (nothing will ever surpass it, no book—no accomplishment—nothing. I left a six-figure income with Xerox in sales to teach my children at home. When we stopped home-schooling after 13 years, I began the manuscript entitling it, you guessed it, “Don’t Dump Him.” After I was blessed with an agent, we still kept the title the same as she shopped for publishers. We decided to reverse the title to make it a more positive statement flipping it to, “Choosing Him All Over Again.”  I’m glad we offer that alternative title, and in the end my publisher chose it. That honored my husband too, for he never liked, “Don’t Dump Him!”

 

From Driftwood to SapphireKathy Howard – Author of From Dishes to Snow and From Driftwood to Sapphire

That’s funny you should ask, because I have no process. Though they are not all published yet, by God’s goodness, I have written three books. All three were different when it came to finding a title. From Dishes to Snow was originally titled ‘The Little Red House,’ but that didn’t pop. Not until I was reworking a scene at the end of the book and the words just came out, did I realize that those words needed to be on the front cover as well. From Driftwood to Sapphire’s title came in the middle of writing it. I knew I wanted the sequel to have the same type of title, so I intentionally thought of driftwood and sapphire and did my best to work it into the story. The third novel’s title came before the first word was typed. Since it has not yet been published, I’ll keep its name a mystery for now. 😉 So, the process for creating a title? For me, there is none. The title shows up on its own time table.

Grace in the Middle

Wendy Duke – Author of Grace in the Middle

Choosing a title is definitely tricky.  I wanted the title to convey the message of the story, but also connect a stranger  to the story when he / she picks it up off of a shelf in a bookstore. I’m drawn to bold titles, lyrical titles, and memorable titles.  You want people to remember the name of the book when they talk about it or share it with others. And the title and cover have to tie so closely together; a strong or intriguing title with a cover equally as strong and intriguing is a powerful draw.

 

An9781620202692-197x306drea Rodgers –Author of The 20th Christmas

I always find that coming up with a title is one of the hardest parts of writing a book, what was your process for creating a title?

I really have no one to credit for my titles except God! Every other title I’ve come up with in my life was a struggle (and really terrible titles, haha), but The 20th Christmas were the words I saw when I opened my eyes after having the dream. A similar situation happened with Caged Dove–I was walking around my house with the laundry basket and that title just came to me. When I looked up Scripture about doves, I had chills–Psalm 55:6 fits my book to a T. I knew there was no better way to begin Caged Dove than with that Bible verse!

 

 

 

Are you ready to start writing your own book? Go and comment on our Facebook page and tell us all about it!

 

Author Forum: How Do You Start Writing a Book?

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This is the fourth of a multi-part series by guest blogger Ivy Cheng tapping into the expertise of several seasoned Ambassador authors. The first post offered tips on dealing with writer’s block. The second post covered the influence other writers can have on your work and the third discussed managing a writing schedule within a busy life.

I once had a friend who told me “everyone has a story, but not all of them can write it.” I think this is a very true statement. Everyone is unique in their own way, and everyone has a story to tell. However, not everyone has the time, patience, or skill to write their story. The ability to write an entire book requires intense devotion. It is a daunting task to sit in front of a blank screen and start writing a book. And so, we ask some of our authors what was the spark that made them write those first few words.

 

Juana M9781620202913-e1414700233650ikels – Author of Choosing Him All Over Again 

The short answer is it was a call from God. By that I mean, that I knew to write it was to be obedient to what He wanted me to do. Knowing that it was God’s will for my life with my husband’s full blessing gave me strength and endurance when the going got rough—and it did get rough. It took me a year and half to write the rough draft, another year and a half to get a Christian agent, then another two years to get a Christian publisher, and finally one year before I held the book in my hand. When the book finally arrived, I will never forget my husband’s prayer with me. We held the book in our hands, and he prayed that if one person could be brought closer to Christ or have a stronger marriage—just one person more complete in all the will of God—it would be worth it. So beautiful to hear the man that I left all those years ago to pray over Choosing Him All Over Again.

From Driftwood to SapphireKathy Howard – Author of From Dishes to Snow and From Driftwood to Sapphire

From Dishes to Snow was written after we decided to homeschool our girls. I wanted to do something that would share Jesus and hopefully make enough money to pay for the kids’ curriculum. I prayed over every writing day, never knowing what the characters would do or say. I had no idea what the plot would be, only that I wanted to use my family’s mountain house as the setting. As a child, I remember hiking, daydreaming about different stories involving our precious mountain. In 2013/2014, I was given the chance to daydream again, only this time, others were privy to those dreams as the story came alive on paper.

Grace in the Middle

Wendy Duke – Author of Grace in the Middle

Encouragement from other people motivated me highly, but I also just had a deep conviction that our story of pain and struggle could help someone else in their own difficult circumstances. I had flashbacks of sitting in doctors’ waiting rooms, alone and scared, and decided to write our story to help encourage people in the same shoes. This has been my greatest desire for this book: to help struggling families deal with the difficulties of having a child with an illness or other traumatic circumstances. King Solomon said our words have the power of life and death, and I wanted to use mine to speak life over people who need to hear life and light and hope.

 

 

An9781620202692-197x306drea Rodgers –Author of The 20th Christmas

My first book, The 20th Christmas, came to me in a dream. I’ve been writing stories since childhood and that had never happened to me before–but I started scribbling down what I remembered and a month later the manuscript was completed! My next book, Cage The Dove (coming this fall), was inspired by real-life events that I went through in junior high, so the story idea has been on my mind for over two decades. God gave me too many signs for me to put it off any longer.

Are you ready to start writing your own book? Go and comment on our Facebook page and tell us all about it!

 

Author Forum: Does Reading Other People’s Work Influence Your Writing Style?

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This is the second of a multi-part series by guest blogger Ivy Cheng tapping into the expertise of several seasoned Ambassador authors. The first post offered tips on dealing with writer’s block.

They say that copycatting is the highest praise because it means that the work is worth copying. Shakespeare’s storylines have been taken and reworked into countless new works, and Hemingway’s different writing style changed the literary world. So it raises the question if our authors are particularly influenced by other authors.

Juana M9781620202913-e1414700233650ikels – Author of Choosing Him All Over Again 

I don’t read other people’s work when I am writing other than looking up a quote I am searching for (I also don’t listen to other testimonies when I am writing).  I am afraid that I will copy their style. But don’t get me wrong. Reading what other people have written had everything to do with my writing. I read aloud to my children for 15 years before I began my book. I will forever be grateful to the excellent writers I met during those years whose detailed descriptions inspired me (a math girl, think of it!) to the point I knew I had to write! I agree with the Psalmist who said, “My heart was hot within me, While I was musing the fire burned; Then I spoke with my tongue…” (Psalm 39:3)

 

From Driftwood to SapphireKathy Howard – Author of From Dishes to Snow and From Driftwood to Sapphire

I am a picky eater and I am a picky reader. I’ve noticed I tend to read authors with similar writing styles to each other. Anything outside of that realm, I have a hard time understanding or staying focused. So, yes, I would have to say I lean towards the writing style that I read, mainly because it keeps my attention. To those who like meatloaf, tuna, and chicken – expository, persuasive, and narrative, I admire you. But to me, I’m just a chicken girl – one meat, one writing style. Hopefully one of these days, I’ll acquire a taste for variety.

 

 

Grace in the MiddleWendy Duke – Author of Grace in the Middle

Yes and no. I definitely feel like reading unique writing styles seems to open up the possibilities, break down limitations. Sometimes I try to write in different “voices” just to stretch my own technique. e.e. cummings taught me to use unexpected words to shake things up.  Harper Lee taught me to pay attention to the subplot, to the stories happening behind the center stage. Other authors such as Anne Lamotte, Donald Miller and Jen Hatmaker have all influenced me over recent years. They have very conversational writing styles, casual and funny.  This seems to be the style that feels most like my own voice, so their writing gives me confidence in my own style.

 

An9781620202692-197x306drea Rodgers –Author of The 20th Christmas

Yes, so I don’t usually read much when I’m working on a manuscript. I feel it’s one or the other for me–either I’m reading or writing because I do a better job of listening to my writing voice when it’s the only one I hear.

 

Have a favorite author or unique writing style? Go and comment on our Facebook page and tell us all about it!

 

 

Author Forum: How Do You Break Writer’s Block?

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This is the first of a multi-part series by guest blogger Ivy Cheng tapping into the expertise of several seasoned Ambassador authors.

Anyone who writes, from poetry to novels, even a school paper, has experienced writer’s block at one point or another. Curious as to how to break writer’s block, we asked a few of our amazing authors here at Ambassador International for their methods of finding their inspiration again.

 

Juana M9781620202913-e1414700233650ikels – Author of Choosing Him All Over Again 

“Some people suffer from writer’s block, but I consistently had to deal with the opposite problem. I had way too much content. As I wrote, story after story would unfold and the average reader doesn’t want to read a book over 400 pages! When my beloved mentor who was an excellent writer suggested that I write my story, she had it right immediately. Her name is Elisabeth Elliot. She said to me, “Juana, some people have the problem of irrigating the desert when they write; you will have the problem of chopping down the jungle.” She was spot on.

Even so, there was a few times I got “stuck.” I found the best thing to do was to put it away, and come back fresh on another day. On occasion I listened to an audio of my story told in front of a live audience. As I listened as if it was someone else’s story, I became re-motivated to go back to the spot where I got stuck and just tell it as if I was talking to one person in the room (and just one person will eventually read it when they hold it in their hand!)”

 

From Driftwood to SapphireKathy Howard – Author of From Dishes to Snow and From Driftwood to Sapphire

When I hit my wall of writer’s block, I find myself putting the manuscript aside for a time. Thankfully, it is usually just a short time, one that I can fill running or playing with the kids for an afternoon. During those less frequent longer times, I push the story out of my head as best I can and live life away from the characters for days or even weeks. Other than normal living, I may read other books or watch movies, stories that show creativity and imagination. When I feel refreshed, I dive back in, headfirst.

 

Grace in the MiddleWendy Duke – Author of Grace in the Middle

I tend to write in spurts: I’ll let thoughts and ideas build for a while, and then spend a few days writing non-stop.  I’m not sure if this is “normal”; it seems to just depend on personality type.  I read several writers’ blogs who carve out a couple of hours each day to write, but I usually need a bigger block of time to really get much on a page.  I’m just not a fast writer, but the more I write, the faster I become.  Reading seems to be the best way to help me generate ideas and be inspired to write. The more I read, the more I seem to want to write.

 

An9781620202692-197x306drea Rodgers –Author of The 20th Christmas

I take breaks–but that means doing something else creative.  I find that reading, watching a movie, or listening to music  often inspire me so then I can return to my manuscript and  the words flow easier and better. I’ve never been stuck on  what to write about–writer’s block to me is more about not  being able to get the right words out or have the story flow in  the best direction.

 

Do you have your own tips for breaking writer’s block? Go and comment on our Facebook page with your methods!

 

Welcome to the Team: Lynsie Crespo

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Ambassador is excited to announce the addition of Lynsie Crespo to our team! Lynsie will be focusing on social media, marketing and sales. Have you noticed those cool “Meet Us Monday” posts on Facebook? Or have you checked out the new Ambassador Instagram page? Yes, Lynsie is the one that makes us all look so good. Born and raised in New Jersey, Lynsie decided to take a risk, quit her job, and moved to South Carolina two years ago.  She always had a passion for fashion and that’s what led Lynsie to creating Similar Styles, a fashion blog to prove to the world that you can dress in high end fashion without having to pay a similar price. While fashion blogging, Lynsie also discovered that she also has a passion for social media. When she is not interacting online, Lynsie is a Thrift Stylist for Miracle Hill Thrift Stores. She also loves singing and playing guitar. Connect with Lynsie on instagram @lynsie84 or as Similar Styles on Facebook and Instagram.

LynsieIf your life had a theme song what would it be?

Thrift Shop by Lindsey Stirling & Tyler Ward. This song makes me laugh! For those of you that know me I’m always up for a good laugh… and thrifting. I am always up for thrifting.

Who’s your social media idol?

There are so many! I’ll narrow it down by saying fashion instabloggers. They are all an inspiration to me. 

If you could visit anywhere in the world– where would you go?
Bora Bora & Hawaii! 
What’s social media outlet do you spend the most time on?Lynsie Crespo
Instagram.
Share your best tip for making your social media profile stand out.
I’m a visual person so to me it’s all about the pictures! Make sure they are good quality and don’t be afraid to use filters! Just make sure you use the right ones to compliment your photo. 

Five Things About Author Amy Fleming

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pic of me lightLearn more about your favorite Ambassador authors with our “Five Things” series. Author Amy Fleming wrote the recently released book A Little Irish Love Story, available now. Here are Amy’s “five things”:

Maybe I write so many scenes with people eating or preparing foods because I have a hole in my heart that microwaved tofu created. Kitchens are my favorite settings in my books even though no one in my family ever entered them. I grew up in a health-nut family, but no one knew how to cook!  In fact, I had to delete about 25 references to strawberry muffins in my last book. I should probably not write on an empty stomach…

I often dream stories before writing them. I have always been a very vivid dreamer and even dream sequentially- sometimes for months on end with the same storyline! I remember things vividly when I wake up. The hero of my book is also a dreamer like me.

The crazy people in my family became a rich resource for my characters. From Aunt Mim’s love of “bluing” her hair to Grandpa’s obsession with the “Little People” who constantly took his glasses, there was always something to laugh about. When writing a serious story like A Little Irish Love Story, I like to pump in those quirky, adorable moments that have amused me.

An angel took my mom’s picture in Rome. She was walking around the ruins at midday and a band of men surrounded her! Just as they were about to attack her, a man in all white appeared out of no where. He calmly asked to take my mother’s picture. He took her picture, handed her back her camera and vanished! The men were so scared they ran away. We still have that picture. If you look closely, a very similar scene is in my book.

My great-grandparent’s love story inspired my new book. My Great Grandpa became my hero very early on in life. He helped build the Titanic in Belfast! His wife had a stroke right after they got married and he had to care for her his entire life. He told me one day, “Taking care of her was the greatest honor God has ever given me.” I wanted to honor him by making him the hero of A Little Irish Love Story so I used his name and his personality for the main character.

Learn more about Amy and enjoy her new book A Little Irish love Story. Thank you Amy for sharing your “five things” with us!

Watch the Author Hangout with Andrew Davis

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Ambassador International partnered with Gospel eBooks for an Author Hangout featuring Andrew Davis. Andy answered questions about his new book An Infinite Journey: Growing Toward Christlikeness. He covered topics including Christian maturity, discipleship and even scripture memorization. Andy provided practical tips for becoming more like Christ. If you missed the hangout, you can watch the video now:

For a limited time you can purchase An Infinite Journey for the Kindle at a discounted price.

Five Things About Author Steve Whigham

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Steve WhighamLearn more about your favorite Ambassador authors with our “Five Things” series. Author Steve Whigham wrote the recently released book Eclipse of Faith: When Doubt Overwhelms Religious Belief, available now. Here are Steve’s “five things”:

  1. I have spoken on this subject on three continents already. I’m amazed at how many people struggle with doubt. Most do not feel confident enough — or free enough — to discuss their doubt with others. I know how they feel. I went through the same struggle myself, which I wrote about in my book. You just don’t want to vocalize your doubt about faith just in case it may alienate people you are very close to.
  2. I love music. I’ve been playing piano, drums and guitar for many years now. I’ve played in all kinds of bands, even orchestras: classical, opera, jazz, rock, blues, folk, and even a bit of country. Whenever I need to relax and decompress, all it takes is a few minutes behind the keyboard and I’m renewed. There is something special about music. The crazy thing is, I can’t sing on tune. I can play instruments. I just can’t sing.
  3. You just never know who is embroiled in doubt. I met a bright, young Christian leader just a couple weeks ago. He’s struggling with his faith in profound ways. From the outside he looks all put together — a model 20-something actively leading Bible studies, church functions, etc. He just doesn’t know what he truly believes any more. And he was scared to admit it. I got to talk witEclipse of Faithh him for a couple hours over coffee and give him tools to deal with his doubt. When we finished, he looked so relieved. I’m praying for the joy of his faith to return to him soon.
  4. I got to talk to a former Captain of the Soviet Air Force in Odessa, Ukraine a couple years back while there on business. He must have been at least 80 years old. He clapped his boot heels together and saluted me with pride. He spoke no English. I spoke only rudimentary Russian. But we both spoke enough German to have a pleasant conversation. He is a follower of Christ now and attends an active church right in the heart of Odessa. His eyes danced with joy. That day, I got to experience history folding down upon itself and reveal the human stories behind the dry accounts of history. When you get past the stereotypes, how much alike we all are!
  5. I have to admit it, I’m a reading geek. I can’t get enough reading time in. I’ve got so many books I’m currently reading encompassing so many subjects: history, politics, philosophy, arts, science, cooking, fiction, autobiographies, business, theology, technology, and the list goes on. I should be more focused — but maybe not. I’m an eclectic reader and I think it gives me a broader perspective. It sure makes entertaining dinner conversation!

Learn more about Steve and his struggle with doubt in his new book Eclipse of Faith. Thank you Steve for sharing your “five things” with us!

Flash Sale: Two Books, One Common Theme

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The book of Mark tells of a woman who, despite suffering great personal pain and tragedy, never lost her love for Jesus Christ. This story has inspired many struggling with personal suffering, including two great authors from Ambassador International, both of whom wrote books about this biblical story.

Despite drawing from the same source, these two authors definitely didn’t write the same book. Cynthia Goyang wrote Just One Touch, which tells the fictional account of a woman similarly maintaining her love for Jesus through hardship. Elizabeth Johnson, in her book Touching the Hem, tells of her personal struggle with illness, and how she never lost her faith because of it.

All this week (Aug. 1-7), you can pick up both of these books in one of our great deals! Own both books, with shipping included, for just $16.00 in our flash sale. You can also get either Just One Touch or Touching the Hem for the Kindle for just $2.99!

Though one is fiction and the other is nonfiction, there is a common thread running through both: keeping faith in God even when times are hard. These two books will deepen your understanding of biblical suffering and how one woman in the Bible is a great example to Christians.

Ambassador International asked both of these authors a few questions. Here is how they responded:

Touching the HemYour books both focus on the story from Mark 5 about the woman who pushed through the crowd in order to touch Jesus’s garment. How can your books complement each other?

Cynthia: I believe both Just One Touch & Touching The Hem, focus on: 1. What life changing things occur during suffering. 2. How a soul is to act/ react in the midst of suffering. 3. How one grows and grows closer to the Lord while suffering. 4. How a believer is used of God while suffering. 5. How one walks in healing (whatever that may entail).

Elizabeth: I loved reading Cynthia’s story, Just One Touch, and seeing through that story how this woman responded correctly to her suffering. Her focus on Christ as the great Healer, her action based on faith, and her persistence in trying to reach Him despite horrible circumstances — these are all part of a biblical response to physical suffering, which I cover in Touching the Hem. The two books complement each other quite nicely, first by seeing biblical truths regarding our response to suffering, then by seeing a depiction of that response from real life.

 

When did you first discover the story told in Mark 5?

Cynthia: I’ve known the story since childhood Bible Study Classes.

Elizabeth: I’ve known this story as long as I can remember, but a few years ago my pastor started preaching a series from the Gospels about “Personal Encounters with Jesus.” When he started teaching about this woman’s encounter with Christ, it was like I was hearing it afresh. It became the inspiration for my book, and the model for my own response to personal physical affliction.

 

just one touchWhy did you feel such a strong connection with this story?

Cynthia: The Woman with the Issue of Blood has always fascinated me. After studying, I found that a person with such a problem would most likely have been shunned by her family, friends and community. She was certainly a person living in an extreme crisis, but like that saying suggests: “Our extremity is God’s opportunity.” I feel a connection with her simply because like the Woman with the Issue of Blood, we each have “Issues” issues that can only be resolved by reaching out, by pushing through with faith-filled determination to touch Jesus Christ the Lord.

Elizabeth: Mark 5 tells us that this woman had spent all she had in search of a cure, yet was nothing bettered, but instead grew worse. I’ve experienced that same struggle in my own journey with chronic illness. Doubtless, I have not faced the utter social rejection or complete financial loss that this woman faced, but I have had severe physical problems – life threatening ones, even – that doctors could not seem to fix or even determine the root causes. It feels hopeless sometimes, as I imagine this woman felt with her ongoing suffering.

 

EJWhy does it stand out to you over other biblical stories of suffering?

Cynthia: All the stories of suffering are quite dramatic but the story of this woman in the midst of such a dire crisis has been for me one of the greatest examples of a soul’s humiliation, sickness, suffering and a soul’s determination, faith and subsequent healing.

Elizabeth: This woman was a social outcast. She had no money or other resources. Her health was almost non-existent. She literally had nothing, except what was internal – her character, her faith, her persistence. Her story is one of poverty to wealth, not monetarily, but spiritually. She reached out in faith that Christ would heal her, and He turned her life completely around by giving her immediate healing, social recognition, and restoration to usefulness. This story, more than most, displays the contrast between our poverty without Christ and our wholeness with Him.

 

CGWhat struggles has this story helped you through in your own life?

Cynthia: This story has helped me to have faith in Christ no matter how dire the circumstance. It has taught me to be quiet in my spirit, to know that He is God! This story has helped  me to truly know:  that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to [His] purpose. Romans 8:28. The Lord can and does use suffering to bring about His purpose. The Lord has an everlasting love and affection for each of his children and desires to see our ultimate healing.

Elizabeth: The story in Mark 5 nudged me into a deeper study of what Scripture says about physical suffering. It has encouraged me, as I’ve reflected on the fellowship of suffering we share with other believers. It has convicted me, as I’ve come to understand the courage and faith expressed in the woman’s actions. And it has comforted me, to see how willingly and completely Christ healed her – and to know that I will someday experience that full healing for myself, at least in heaven!