Thursday, July 23, 2009







I am delighted this week to interview MaryLu Tyndale. MaryLu's books have garnered 4 and 4 1/2 star reviews from Romantic Times, plus a Christy award nomination for her 2007 release, "The Redemption." Leave a comment to have a chance to win one of MaryLu's books.
Welcome, MaryLu!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, where you live, etc.

Hi Golden, thanks for having me. My husband and I have six children ages 19-29 and we live in San Jose, California. I’ve lived here for 29 years, but I prefer Florida where I grew up and where most of my family still lives. There’s nothing like a tropical beach with the palm trees swaying and the warm waves caressing your feet. My husband is one of those serious, logical rocket scientist types while I’m a crazy emotional writer, but we make it work!

2. Tell us about your call to write in the Christian arena. When you are actually writing, do you have a real sense of God’s presence or is it more “nuts and bolts” writing for you? (I’m not sure either answer is right or wrong.)

Five years ago, God distinctly put on my heart to write a novel about a Christian pirate. I know that sounds crazy, but it was such a strong feeling that I couldn’t ignore it. I had never written a novel for publication before. Yes, that’s right! But I did love to write and had spent many years writing as a hobby. So I wrote that pirate novel and 6 months after I finished it, I got a contract for it to be published. That’s when I knew it was God’s will and God’s hand was on it all along because that never ever happens in the publishing world. When I’m writing, when I’m really into a scene, I feel a strong sense of the Lord’s presence directing me, but when I go back and edit later on, it’s all nuts and bolts!

3. Do you consider yourself a Christian who writes good fiction or a writer who writes good Christian fiction? Definitely a Christian who writes fiction.

Without my identity in Christ and my relationship with Him, there wouldn’t be a reason to write.
4. I’m always interested in the everyday life of a writer. What is your schedule? And what are you usually wearing when you are writing?

I’m a pretty disciplined person and I like to stick to schedules. I suppose that comes from raising so many kids. After I get up, the first thing I do is read my Bible and spend time with the Lord. Without that, I won’t have the strength and wisdom to get through my day. Then I get dressed and tackle my tons of email, deleting the ones I don’t need to read and answering the ones that require a response. I work on my blog and any other marketing tasks I need to do. Then I take a break and get some exercise. I have a stationary bike in my living room that I get on everyday and watch the History channel. I also go up on the trail behind my house and walk for 30 minutes. After that, I eat some lunch and take care of any chores or errands I need to do for the day. The afternoon is my writing time. I usually spend from 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm writing. At 5:00 I make dinner and get ready for the family to come home. Evenings are spent with my husband and kids. I usually wear jeans and a t-shirt all day! That’s one of the perks of this job.

That's interesting to me. My day is the opposite of yours. I, too, start the day reading my Bible and praying, but I write early in the morning. Then marketing and emails in the afternoons, unless there is one from my editor or agent or publicist that needs immediate attention.

5. Name five of your favorite things and five pet peeves.

Five Favs: Jesus, Popcorn, Sunshine, Chocolate, LOST
Five Peeves: Prideful people, Cloudy days, Being late, Traffic Jams, hypocrites

6. When did you first realize that God was real? I’m not asking about your salvation experience, but when God first invaded your consciousness and you realized that He was more than just a religious concept.

About 15 years ago, I dared myself to read the Bible from cover to cover. I had not been following the Lord for several years and had made quite a mess out of my life. I was reading Ezekiel one night and I came to the prophecies about Israel, how God was going to bring them back from all the lands where He scattered them and settle them back in Israel and how Israel would be a land of turmoil and wars until Jesus came again, and I realized that what Ezekiel wrote thousands of years ago was occurring in my lifetime! Something leapt within me, like a door opening or a light switching on and I KNEW that God was real. I felt His presence so strongly I remember looking around the room, fully expecting to see Him standing there. My life has never been the same since.

Wow! That's what we all need isn't it? An genuine encounter with God.

7. Now, tell us about when you came to Jesus and totally committed everything you knew about yourself to everything you knew about Him … where, when, how.

The total complete full surrender that I believe you’re talking about here is something I finally did about 5 years ago. After I became a believer, I still dabbled with the things of the world and still wanted things my way. It took several years for the Lord to humble me and help me toss “self” off the throne of my heart. He brought me to a very dark place in my life where nothing was going right and my prayers were not being answered, but ultimately it was at that place where I finally let go of my self will and put myself completely in God’s hands.

8. What has been your toughest walk of faith?

Believing for the salvation of my prodigal children. Especially when I watch them out in the world doing all the wrong things. But God’s word contains many promises for the children of the righteous, and He has spoken directly to my heart that my kids will be saved. The challenge comes in believing it on a daily basis when everything I see with my natural eye says the opposite.

9. What went into your decision to write in your particular genre/time period?

I love history and have always been drawn to reading historicals and to watching period movies. To me, there’s something so adventurous and romantic about the early colonial period when explorers were finding new lands and people crossed the sea looking for freedom and had to scratch out an existence in the wild new world. Combine that with the fact that I’m a hopeless romantic, a woman who does indeed believe in happy endings, and Historical Romance seemed a perfect fit for me.

10. Do you read the reviews that are written about your book(s)? Do you believe and/or take to heart the reviews that are written about your book(s)?

I would love to say that I don’t read the reviews! I hope to some day have the strength to resist reading reviews. Reviews do one of two things. The good ones pump up my ego, and the bad ones crush my resolve. Both are bad outcomes. Then why can’t I stop reading them?

11. What is the message you hope people gain from reading your book(s)?

God is real. He loves you. He has a plan for you. He is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do! He only asks that you follow Him and believe.

12. What do you like to read? What is in your “stack to be read” right now?

I love to read Historical Romances. Currently, I’m reading Falconer’s Quest by T. Davis Bunn. On my TBR pile, I have The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner, Ransome’s Honor by Kaye Dacus, The Bride Bargain by Kelly Hake.

13. What do you like most about being an author? The least?

I love being home and making my own hours. I was never one who enjoyed punching a clock, so the freedom this career offers me is a definite plus. I also love spending most of my day in a different world. As a child I spent hours daydreaming and now I get to do it for money! For me the hardest part about being an author is the marketing. I was never good at sales and I’m still not. I’d rather spend my days writing instead of trying to promote my books.

14. What motivates your writing?

My relationship with Jesus. The purpose of my writing is to glorify Him and bring others close to Him, so whenever I am planning a new story, I always ask Him what message He wants me to get across. For any new book, I always start with a spiritual theme, then I add plot, characters, location, etc...

15. Being an author brings opportunities to speak to different groups—book clubs, workshops, conferences. Do you enjoy public speaking or does it frighten you?
I’m a bonafide introvert. I’m the kid who dreaded standing up in front of the class to give a book report. So, no, I do not enjoy public speaking at all. I’ve gotten better at it over the years, but truthfully, it terrifies me!

16. If you could shout something to the heavens, and not care who heard you, what would you shout?

TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

Amen to that!
Thanks again for taking the time to answer these questions. Everybody please leave a comment and garner a chance to win one of MaryLu's books.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Golden and Mary Beth Chappell at ACFW Conference in Minneapolis, MN, Fall 2008

I am so excited to have with me this week my agent, Mary Beth Chappell, who is with Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary and Entertainment Agency, offices in New York City, Boston and now in Atlanta, GA.

Mary Beth received a B.A. in Political Science from Brown University and a J.D. from Emory School of Law. Chappell attended New York University's Summer Publishing Institute and then joined Zachary Shuster Harmsworth in 2004. She seeks projects that involve compelling voices, captivating stories and unique perspectives.

Chappell represents both fiction and nonfiction authors working in many genres. Her nonfiction interests include food, lifestyle, self-help, pop-psychology, politics, human rights, southern culture, travel, Christianity, the environment and women's issues. Her fiction interests include historical fiction, inspirational fiction, women's commercial fiction, Southern fiction, mysteries, and horror.

Chappell's diverse range of clients include cookbook authors and acclaimed food writers Mindy Merrell and R.B. Quinn whose book is forthcoming from Broadway/Random House, award-winning journalist Ronnie Greene whose book Night Fire: Big Oil, Poison Air and Margie Richard's Fight to Save Her Town is forthcoming from Amistad/HarperCollins; Edward Chupack, whose debut novel Silver: My Own Tale as Written By Me With a Goodly Amount of Murder, a gritty, retelling of the children’s classic Treasure Island, was recently published by Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martins to critical acclaim; and Tom and Ray Magliozzi, the hosts of NPR's hit show Car Talk.
We met at the Glorieta Christian Writers Conference, where I was serving on the faculty. It was, for me, sort of a fluke meeting. I thought Mary Beth was an editor, and so after sitting down beside her in the appointment room, I pitched my book to her. She was interested, and handed me her card. When I read, "Mary Beth Chappell, Literary Agent," I nearly fell out of my chair. But I remained cool (I think!). I didn't confess to Mary Beth until after I had signed with the agency that I thought she was an editor. It has been a good association.

I took some questions off of the Historical Writers Loop that the participants had wanted to know from agents. Here are Mary Beth's answers:


Do you prefer your clients call or email you?
I prefer email, but every agent is different. If you have a problem that doesn't lend itself to email, I'd email and set up a time to chat.

How often should I be contacting my agent or should I just wait until she contacts me? This varies entirely on what stage of the project you find yourself in and whether you have a problem.
Mary Beth has been very accesible and available to me. As outlined above, if I need to talk to her, I email her, and we set a time to chat. However, I try to be sensitive of her time and unless there is a problem or a question that I don't feel comfortable asking my editor, I try to take care of things myself. In the early days of our relationship, however, I really didn't ask her to take care of some things that I should have. Your agent can act as a liason between you and your publisher to deal with sticky issues. Let your agent ask the hard questions and be the "bad guy." That leaves you free to be the wonderful author! :)

Will my agent give me a detailed list of who she has sent my manuscript to? And who rejected it? I do and I often provide rejection letters. Some agents will not do this though.

What should I expect from my agent at a conference? Conferences can be a great time to bond with your agent, especially if you have never met face to face. You should, however, be considerate of the fact that your agent is working...looking for new clients, leading workshops, etc. I suggest sending an email to set up a time to connect at the conference. If you have not signed yet it is not a good time to check in on your manuscript.

Should I make an appointment to see her or just say hi in the hall? Friendly hellos are always welcome. That said, if you have something to discuss make an appointment even if it is for coffee.

How does a new author know if their agent is doing a good job? New authors often have the highest of expectations for the publication process and are often disappointed. Here are some questions that give an idea of what is reasonable to expect. If your agent has agreed to help you edit, and I would suggest finding one who does if you are a new author, are the editorial suggestions helpful, communicated clearly, etc? Alternately, did they send you to a freelance editor who was a good match? Did your agent send your work to a variety of houses or provide a solid explanation for why a house was omitted? Do you feel that you are getting good, clear info on the financial matters related to your work?

When is it time to sever the relationship with an agent and how should it be done? This really varies depending on the individual case. Follow the process stated in your agency agreement. Personally, I would not do it by email.:-)

Are editors asking for any particular kinds of manuscripts? The publication process is so slow that I always advise against trend following...you'll miss the trend. It's more important to work on your work and your platform.

Pet peeve on submissions
"my fiction novel"

Do contest wins/finals help give an author credibility? Do you often request a full ms after judging in a contest? If you do request, do you want to see a proposal or the full manuscript? Yes, contests can set you apart if you win. For novels, I want a partial manuscript. Most of my work is in the ABA where fiction proposals are nonexistent.

What advice would you give as far as one sheets? If I do not enjoy reading your synopsis/one sheet, I will never ask to read your novel.
So, I would think that tells us how important it is to have the best one sheet that we can afford to produce.

How do you prioritize your work, i.e career planning over editing a client's manuscript for example. I love this question. They are both crucial...and come into play at different times in a client's career. In the early days, editing is the most important. The work has to become marketable and the best career strategy in the world won't help if it isn't. Once the deal is in place and the client has an editor, then strategy becomes the key focus. That said, an agent's most important function is to make a good match with the editor/house and get the client a good contract that will not cause problems later in their career. Trust me, I've seen what happens down the line when good authors sign stupid contracts...it's brutal and you don't want to be there.

What is your favorite part of your job? I like editing, coaching and contract negotiations.

What do you love to read? Fiction.
Something we like to hear, eh?

What would your ideal agent/client relationship look like?
Honestly, they are each different and special in their own way.


Thanks, Mary Beth, for taking time to answer our questions. Perhaps the relationship with our agents won't be so scary now :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

MOLLY NOBLE BULL


I am thrilled to have for this interview, Molly Noble Bull, whose most recent book, Sanctuary, is about the French Huguenots, as are my series of novels. Sanctuary won the 2008 Gayle Wilson Award and tied for first place in the 2008 Winter Rose contest, both for published inspirational authors. Leave your comments to be eligible for a chance to win Molly's book.








Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, where you live, etc.
My name is Molly Noble Bull, and my email address is www.mollynoblebull.com. I am a wife, the mother of three grown sons, the grandmother of four, and a published novelist. I was born in Kingsville, Texas, and Kingsville is way down almost at the very bottom of Texas. My husband and I lived in the Texas hill country west of San Antonio for many years, and we also lived in Germany while he was in the military. Like you, I am descended from French Huguenots, and Sanctuary, my Huguenot novel, was set in France in 1740. In fact, it was while living in Germany that we visited France for the first time.

Tell us about your call to write in the Christian arena.
Even as a child, I was a romantic—always dreaming of the day when I would meet Prince Charming at the ball. Well, I met him, and my husband is still my Prince Charming. But I can’t stop wanting to go back to the ball again and again. I can do that when I write Christian romances. But mainly, I write for the Lord. In fact, all my novels have the following phrase written on the dedication page: But to God give the glory.

When you are actually writing, do you have a real sense of God’s presence or is it more “nuts and bolts” writing for you?
God gave me the desire and ability to write books, and He is an important part of who I am, how I think, and what I write. I cannot always “go unto all the world and preach the Gospel of Grace.” But my characters can.

Do you consider yourself a Christian who writes good fiction or a writer who writes good Christian fiction?
I am a Christian first and a wife second. Ideally, my writing is down a couple of slots. But sometimes, it inches up the ladder a bit. At those times, I have to slap it back down where it belongs.

I’m always interested in the everyday life of a writer. What is your schedule? And what are you usually wearing when you are writing?
I am never on a schedule. I write when I can, and sometimes, I am wearing a nightgown.

Name five of your favorite things and five pet peeves.
I like to spend time with the Lord.
I like to read books and magazines on Bible Prophecy.
I like to listen to the news and keep up with current events.
I like to write books.
And I like to travel.


I don’t like to cook.
Wash dishes
Clean house
Shop for food
Do gardening


However, I do all those things. Often, I am praying or plotting a novel when I do them.

When did you first realize that God was real?
I was raised in a liberal denominational church. I thought God was a really big man who sat on the altar at our church. But I wasn’t sure how Jesus fit into the picture. I knew Jesus was born on Christmas Day. (Today I believe Jesus was born during one of the fall feasts of Israel.) I was convinced that Jesus died on Good Friday. I also knew we sang songs about him on Sunday morning, but that was about all I knew about the son of God.


One day I saw a really old Hollywood movie call David and Bathsheba, and I realize that I wanted what David had—a personal friendship with the Lord. I began my quest to find the Lord, and that must have been when I finally knew God was real.


The movie came about as the result of somebody writing a screenplay and perhaps a novel as well. Now I wanted to write novels in the hope that after reading my books, others would go on a personal quest of their own.

Now, tell us about when you came to Jesus and totally committed everything you knew about yourself to everything you knew about Him … where, when, how.
As I just mentioned, I had been looking for the Lord for a long time, and since I didn’t find him in my church, I went looking for the Lord in all the wrong places. My quest landed me in the New Age Movement for a while. But Jesus, the Good Shepherd, came looking for me. And he carried me home by revealing himself to me in a very personal way. I have followed the Lord ever since.
What has been your toughest walk of faith?
Pride. As a published novelist, I sometimes get puffed up with my own importance, and this is never good. God punishes those He loves, and though I try to do God’s will, I never feel more loved than when the Lord takes me to the woodshed.

What went into your decision to write in your particular genre/time period?
Genealogy is a hobby of mine, and some of my ancestors had French surnames. I always wanted to write about the places where they lived and the periods in history when they lived. Thus, Sanctuary was born.

Do you read the reviews that are written about your book(s)?
Yes. I love to hear the nice things written about my books and try not to concentrate on the “not so nice” things.

What is the message you hope people gain from reading your book(s)?
I hope they learn Bible stories and scripture verses seldom discussed from the pulpit.

What do you like to read?
I read non-fiction for pleasure.

What do you like most about being an author? The least?
I like writing best. What else? I dislike getting rejection letters, but a lot of published authors get them.

Being an author brings opportunities to speak to different groups—book clubs, workshops, and conferences. Do you enjoy public speaking or does it frighten you? I taught school for many years where I spoke to a group of students all day long. So, public speaking doesn’t bother me.

If you could shout something to the heavens, and not care who heard you, what would you shout?
Save all my family.


You ask great questions, Golden. Thanks for inviting me here today.



Thank you, Molly, for taking the time to answer our questions. We've enjoyed getting to know you a bit better.



Click to HEAR an audio excerpt from Sanctuary: www.mollynoblebull.com/soundbyte.htm http://www.mollynoblebull.com/. Or to watch the video: http://connect.tangle.com/mollynoblebull.