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Author Spotlight: Liz Tolsma

Posted by Julie on February 21, 2017 in encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons |

Author Spotlight: Liz Tolsma
1.       How did you get your start as an author?
I always loved writing and wanted to be an author since my 5thgrade teacher encouraged me that way. But practicality won out, and I became an elementary school teacher instead. After 9/11, I realized that my life could end any moment. I didn’t want to get to the end of it and have regrets about not trying to write. It took nine years after that, but my dream came true!

2.       What is the title of your book and what is it about?

My story is title A Match Made in Heaven in the novella collection Matchmaker Brides. Len Montgomery is a young Iowa pastor who receives a letter from a widowed farmer asking if there are any young women in the congregation who would be interested in marrying him. The town’s newspaperman gets a hold of the letter, publishes it, and it gets picked up by several big city papers. Letters requesting matches pour in. But the match he most wants to make, the one with the town’s sweet, charming, and Shakespeare-quoting postmistress, may be out of his reach.

3.       What was your favorite part about writing this book? Hardest part?
I loved the break from my usual WWII stories to write something lighter. It was fun to give my characters permission to laugh. I loved looking up Shakespeare quotes for my heroine and baffling the hero as to what she was saying. The hardest part was keeping tension in the story. WWII is naturally filled with suspense. I learned a lot about using tension even in a light-hearted story.

4.       What are you hoping readers will take away from your story?
I hope they have fun with the story while remembering that God is a God who forgives and heals.

5. Is there another vocation you have besides writing?
Yes, I’m also a freelance fiction editor and I run a writer’s retreat and an online writer’s academy. It keeps my fingers in writing and publishing, but supplements my income. I love helping new writers learn how to write better and get published.

 6. What is something readers would be surprised to learn about you?
I talk to myself. All. The. Time. It helps to keep me focused, so especially if I have a hard or busy day, I find myself talking out loud with no one but the dog and cat to hear me.

 7. If you were having a chocolate craving, what would you want to satisfy it?
Um, chocolate LOL! Seriously, good European-style chocolate. Lindt, Ghirardelli, something along those lines. Sometimes dark, sometimes milk, depending on my mood.

8. Tell us about your family.

I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart for 28 years. We have three children. Brian is about to turn 22. We adopted him from Vietnam when he was 5 months old. He’s currently serving as a U.S. Marine in North Carolina. Alyssa is 17 and came home from Korea at 3 months old. She’s a junior in high school, as well as a lifeguard and class president. We never see her! She hopes to major in International Studies with an emphasis in Arabic and counterterrorism. Our youngest, Jonalyn, is 14. We adopted her from the Philippines when she was 5. She has a host of cognitive and physical disabilities, as well as a sunny disposition and a fondness for Olaf from Frozen.

9. What has been your biggest achievement as an author?
My first full-length novel, Snow on the Tulips, was a Carol Award finalist and a Selah Award finalist in 2013.

10.How can readers find this book? How can they connect with you?
Buy links:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Christianbook.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/liz.tolsma.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LizTolsma
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/liz-tolsma-64992ab7?trk=hp-identity-name
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/liztolsma/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorliztolsma/

Blurb: Pastor Len Montgomery receives an unusual letter from an Omaha farmer that turns him into the matchmaker he never wanted to be. But the match he most wants to make, the one with the town’s sweet, charming, and Shakespeare-quoting postmistress, may be out of his reach.

 

Liz Tolsma is the author of several WWII novels and prairie romance novellas. She is a popular speaker and an editor and resides next to a Wisconsin farm field with her husband and their two daughters. She enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping. Please visit her blog, The Story behind the Story, at www.liztolsma.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter(@LizTolsma), and LinkedIn. She is also a regular contributor to the Pencildancer blog and the Midwest Almanac blog.

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Interviewed by June Foster

Posted by Julie on June 25, 2014 in About Me, ACFW, encouragement, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, Writing |

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by author June Foster. I consider her a mentor because when we were in the same critique group she spent so much time trying to teach me deeper POV. I’m not a master, but I can tell you, where I am now and where I was are two different books. I have June and fellow critique members to thank for that.Juneblog.jpg

I’d love for you to check out the interview.

You can do so here.

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Interview with Author Eileen Rife

Posted by Julie on April 26, 2013 in Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, Writing |

Eileen Rife is a veteran homeschool mom and author of several nonfiction books, including Wit & Wisdom from the Wee Ones (OakTara), as well as five fiction titles: The Born for India trilogy (Journey to Judah, Restored Hearts, and Chosen Ones), Second Chance, and Laughing with Lily. Her byline has appeared in numerous magazines, including Marriage Partnership, Light & Life, Mature Living, On Mission, Discipleship Journal, and Christian Home & School. She and her husband, Chuck, conduct marriage seminars and speak on a variety of topics for church groups and organizations in the States and overseas. 


Readers may visit Eileen at:

www.eileenrife.com

www.eileen-rife.blogspot.com

www.guardyourmarriage.com

OakTara Author Page

Facebook

Your stories typically revolve around an issue that is red-hot on your heart. Why did you choose abortion to profile in Laughing with Lily?

Psalm 139 details how a loving God carefully and meticulously fashions each one of us in the womb, thinks about us day and night, covers us with His hand, and numbers all our days. We are made in His image. So, both pre-born babies and their mothers are precious to God. To destroy a life He has created is to tamper with His image. And that breaks His heart. I want to be a person who shares the heart of God.

In addition, I want women who have undergone abortion to know that God loves them, just as deeply and completely as He loves their babies. Through Christ, He wants to draw them close, forgive and heal them.

Does the story hold any particular meaning for you personally?

Yes. In 1981, my husband and I lost our second baby at four months gestation—a perfectly-formed baby boy spanning the length of the obstetrician’s hand. He called it a “spontaneous abortion.” We called him David Nathaniel.

I had no choice in the abortion. My body simply and horribly rejected my child. I not only grieved over my loss, but for all the babies who had been aborted by choice. And for all the mothers who had been duped into thinking that their babies were merely globs of tissue, easily discarded.

In 1985, the unthinkable happened. I lost another baby, a little girl—Allison Marie—again at four months gestation. My doctor determined that my uterus, which is supposed to be shaped like a pear, is actually shaped like a heart. David and Allison attached to the crook in the heart (a weak place) and at a certain size automatically detached, inducing labor and subsequent delivery. 

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer? And why?

 Words have always held a fascination for me. This was true for my mother as well. Whenever she heard a new word, she ran for the dictionary. Her love became my own.

I think writing has always been a part of my life from the time I was a little girl. I used to make up characters as I walked to school. English was my favorite subject, and I was often praised for my papers. You could sometimes find me crafting a tale for any neighborhood child who would listen. 

How long does it take you to write a novel?

 If I’m able to devote at least three hours a day, three – four days a week to writing, I can complete a first draft in anywhere from four – eight months. Of course, then comes the rewriting and critiquing by others. All told, a novel might stay in my hands as long as two years before editing and publication are complete, and that’s if the novel has already been contracted by a publishing company. And even after publication, I still find areas that need further work. Writing is a craft which requires continual study and growth.

    What is your next project?

Wit & Wisdom from the Wee Ones, a collection of cute kid quips inspired by my six grandchildren. In fact,

the interaction between Hannah, Mia, and Lily in chapter fourteen during the Nativity practice is taken from this collection. My two oldest granddaughters, three at the time, loved acting out the Christmas story over and over again, not just at the holiday season, but throughout the year, and boy, the lines they came up with. The “come out, come out, wherever you are” line was one of my favorite quips delivered by Kylie. She and Rebekah were also into doctor kits that year. So, stay tuned for more cute kid quips in the upcoming release, Wit & Wisdom from the Wee Ones.

 Laughing with Lily cover

A long-buried secret.

An unexpected encounter.

A quest for answers.

 

Celeste Tatem, a special-education teacher at The Brighton Center in Schreiber, Indiana, couldn’t be more in love with her husband, Joe. But the memory of one day in the past haunts her, threatening their relationship. When Joe dies in a factory explosion, she sinks into depression.

It will take the arrival of a new student, Lily, and her delightful honesty, laughter, and joy at life’s little things to awaken Celeste to hope. When Don, an old flame from college, reenters Celeste’s world, the flickers of love stir once again, and startling questions arise. Questions that threaten to rip the veneer off of her carefully guarded secret. Then the most unexpected thing of all happens….

 

A story of love and forgiveness

in the most unexpected places.

 

“Reaches into the deepest recesses of women’ hearts, encouraging them to hold tight to those they hold dear.”

Jennifer Slattery,Novel Reviews

 

“Sweet, suspenseful, and heartwarming. I couldn’t put it down.”

Diane Dean White, Seeds of Encouragement blog

 

“A top-notch, no-holds-barred, excellent story full of twists and turns, dilemmas, inspiration, and romance.”

Kathleen Freeman, Beauty in Simplicity, Hope in Hard Times

To Purchase:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

 

 

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Explaining My Surrender Tagline

Posted by Julie on February 28, 2013 in About Me, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender |

Part of the writing life is having a tagline. A sentence or a phrase that captures your message/style/genre.

Here are some examples:

June Foster: Where God Has the Answers

Brandilyn Collins: Don’t Forget to Breathe

Karen Kingsbury: Life-Changing Fiction

Mary DeMuth: Your Life Uncaged

Maureen Lang: Engaging the Mind. Renewing the Soul.

I love hearing how authors create their taglines. Mine represents everything about me.

My writing life.

Speaking.

Facilitating Bible studies.

Mentoring.

General ministry.

Jasmine’s Place is a fairly new, free, inspirational e-zine for women, and after the last issue where I shared a short story, they asked if they could interview me regarding my tagline.

The new issue is out, and the whole e-zine looks fantastic.

If you want to know why I’m surrendering the good, the bad, and—maybe one day—the chocolate, read here.

P.S.

It would be great if you subscribe and let other women know about this uplifting resource.

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Clash of the Titles: April W. Gardner Interviews Michelle Massaro

Posted by Julie on February 13, 2012 in COTT, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Writing |

*guest post by April W Gardner

“I often cry when I am in prayer for my children. When eternity breaks through the here and now and the only request left in me is please, God, bring my children into the Kingdom.” -Michelle Massaro

*****

It’s my immense pleasure to introduce a lovely woman to you today, and offer an opportunity to get to know her! Michelle Massaro is my right arm at Clash of the Titles. I’d be lost without her, but she’s so much more than just assistant editor at COTT.

Michelle married her high school honey, Mike, and they now have four amazing children. They are passionate Creationists and attend Living Truth Christian Fellowship in Corona, CA where they have taught Jr High studies and where Michelle is involved in the worship ministry. Michelle is also a homeschooling parent and an aspiring author of contemporary Christian fiction. She loves coffee, peanut butter M&M’s, and new eyeshadow. Her blog hosts weekly Story Improvs, where readers are encouraged to jump in and add to the plot. Above all, she is a follower of Christ Jesus, unashamed to stand upon the Word of God from beginning to end.

Michelle, I love your blog’s sub-header. It says “Follow my journey toward publication. Laugh, cry, point and stare– it’s all good. I’ll leave a trail so that you, my fellow author, may have a straighter path to finding your own elusive publishing contract. Adventure awaits. Let’s travel together…” 


Like they say in court, you’ve opened up a line of questioning. So! 
Regarding laughter…
Every time I watch Forget Paris, I laugh hysterically over Ellen driving down the road with a pigeon stuck to her head. Which movie makes you laugh hardest? 
Michelle: Wow. This was tough because I don’t belly-laugh often enough at all. But one movie that comes to mind is Meet The Parents. Some might be offended because there is some inappropriateness in there, but I can’t help it. It’s funny! There are so many quotes that get me going. Greg’s prayer at the dinner table for one: “and we thank you oh sweet sweet Lord of Hosts…for the …smorgasboard you have so aptly lain at our table this day and each day..by day…day by day by day…”.  LOL, I’m laughing just remembering all the hysterical lines from that movie!

You have me laughing, too! Visualizing Greg milking a cat… LOL
Regarding tears…
You and I are women. We’re allowed to cry anytime, anywhere. It’s our prerogative. I cried yesterday at the sight of traffic stopping for children exiting a school bus. It’s a touching scene–the world coming to a halt to protect our little ones. When was the last time you cried, and what was it over?
Michelle: It is a touching scene! (Thank you! I feel better now.) I cry all the time. Seriously. Usually nobody is around to see but I probably shed at least a couple tears nearly every day. I often cry when I am in prayer for my children. When eternity breaks through the here and now and the only request left in me is please, God, bring my children into the Kingdom. But I also cry over physical weaknesses, regrets, longings, and even Disney movies. In elementary school I bawled over the movie Annie and begged my mom to adopt some orphans. Today I teared up watching a scene from Mulan (when she resolves to take her father’s place in war), and my eyes stung listening to pianist Yiruma’s Kiss The Rain for the first time.

Raise your hand if you teared up during that little speech! Must move on to happier thoughts before I drip on the keyboard.
Regarding pointing and staring…
Our lives are so much more exposed now with Facebook, blogs, Twitter, and all the rest. It seems we can hardly say or do anything privately any more, which can be a blessing. And a curse. What’s the funniest social networking faux pas you’ve committed to date?
Michelle: This was hard too. (Great questions, April!) The closest thing would be when a secular writer I know posted about her new release on Facebook. She had some trouble with Amazon tagging because of the somewhat offensive cover image and turned to her FB friends for input on its appropriateness. I commented with a gentle opinion on why I thought Amazon might have tagged it the way they did, hoping to speak for the conservatives out there without being abrasive. What I hadn’t considered, was that by commenting, her book image would appear on my wall in my “recent activities” and moments later my MOM left a scathing comment below mine asking why on earth I was posting this image. I messaged her privately to adamantly explain that I wasn’t the poster, I was weighing in on the matter. I deleted my comment and told my mom she should do the same because obviously it was then going to be on her wall too. Oy vey! Lucky for me, the incident was small-scale and rather private. I suppose I’ve gotten off easy so far. But it’s never easy being “caught” by Mom.

That’s too funny! Mom’s are great at catching us with our hands in the cookie jar, no matter our age! 
Tell us about that trail you’re leaving for other writers. What was the last thing you posted about on Fiction Fridays?
Michelle: I’ve always posted things I learn and experiences I gain whether that’s contest feedback, craft techniques, social networking (alot of that with COTT), or opportunities to pursue. I sometimes use Fiction Fridays for hosting Story Improvs where readers get involved and write a story together one line at a time. Last week I posted an update on where I’ve been and what I expect in 2012 and I ended with a story prompt. This one is a little different than the Improvs. In this one, I challenged readers to take the prompt and expand it on their own blog, then send me the link. I don’t know how many will join the challenge and play the game, but it would be fun to see what different authors do with the same prompt. Wanna play? You can check it out right now: http://michellemassaro.blogspot.com/2012/02/fiction-friday.html

Oh! Sounds like fun. Y’all make sure you head over there and jump in on the action. You’ve been with COTT since the beginning as a vital staff member, but looking through the eyes of a reader/voter (which you also are!), which part of COTT do you enjoy the most?

Michelle: I’d have to say I most enjoy getting that slice of a story I’ve often never heard of, and then getting to hear how it came together from the author. It’s more personal and more focused than scanning amazon for sample chapters. And I can vote! Most of us love having a say in things and I’m no exception, lol. Being able to interact with the authors of the books I’m voting for makes me feel like I’m stepping into an elite circle of friends and as a reader, that’s huge.

I heartily agree! Thanks, Michelle, for being so gracious to open your world to us for a little peek. It’s been a blast! And now you must excuse me while I go dig through my DVDs for Meet the Parents. LOL
Michelle: April, thank you so much for this opportunity. I value your friendship and admire your work so much. I’m truly honored to be a part of Clash of the Titles.

We couldn’t do it without ya!

Readers, do you have a question for Michelle? And don’t forget, you can still comment on the Almost Kiss clash going on right now at Clash of the Titles!


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Character Confession: Happy to Teach the Professionals

Posted by Julie on August 13, 2011 in About Me, encouragement, God's Word, Julie Arduini, Life Lessons, surrender, Writing |

Ah, the weekend. It’s a busy one for us. It’s for a good reason, so let me share.

 

 

 

 

Eight years ago tomorrow I watched my husband hold our daughter for the first time. It was a surreal planned c-section: the surgeon had music play and Bryan Adams “Everything I do, I Do it for You” was in the background. The doctor was a large man who confessed he sweats a lot so he donned a mask the others said made him like Darth Vader.

No matter, he delivered a daughter we had long waited for.

She struggled a few months later and for the rest of her first year. We nearly lost her. She had delays that professionals warned me would most likely put her in the category of retardation.

Those professionals always forget one thing before they come into contact with me.

They don’t know my God like I do.

I knew when she was in the womb that God promised she would be an overcomer. He doesn’t lie. She isn’t in any category but incoming second grader. Her medical team is down to pediatrician and endocrinologist.  She doesn’t just talk, she sings. If a person can be a color she is glittery pink. If you need her defined by one word, it’s joy.

Removed from those dark days I now see that God didn’t cause those times, but He DID allow them. Not only did He heal our daughter, He grew my faith. I am not the same person I was. I guess to take the cliche, we are new and improved.  But out of all it, God uses her and me as a mom advocate to show the professionals who the true Professional is.

And in the end, I have faith they will know my God like we do.

That makes me happy.

Another thing that makes me happy is when someone wants to know more about what I do. Jeff Rivera, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Gatekeepers Post interviewed me. I share basic tips on adding speaker to your writing resume. Would you please read and pass the link on? That would make me…happy.



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