Tag Archives: blog tour

Book Blog Tour: Mindy Friddle, Author of Secret Keepers

mindyTALK3-797755Today, I am excited to introduce novelist, Mindy Friddle, who brings a seasoned writer’s expertise to the muddle of writing we all face.

Bio: Mindy Friddle’s first novel, The Garden Angel(St. Martin’s Press/Picador), a SIBA bestseller, was selected for Barnes and Noble’s Discover Great New Writers program in 2004, and was a National Public Radio (NPR) Morning Edition summer reading pick.Secret Keepers, her second novel, was published by St. Martin’s Press in May.She lives, writes, and gardens in Greenville, South Carolina where she directs the Writing Room, a community-based nonprofit program she founded in 2006. skeepersorder2

Mindy will be checking for your comments, it’s her “favorite part of blog touring!” So, be sure to leave a comment or question regarding Mindy’s novels, writing in general, or even gardening!(She’s a Master Gardener.)


Interview by: Mary Jo Campbell

   1. Wow, Mindy, your list of credentials are a novel in itself.  Let’s talk about your fiction awards.  Are you always on the look out for contests that suit your writing style, or is this something your agent or publisher does for you?  How do you prepare your work for a particular contest?  What about a residency contest?

Something I love about entering writing contests: the deadlines. Sounds funny, maybe, but consider two important points:
1. You have to prepare and submit something by a certain date—which can motivate you to finish or polish.
2. You’ll find out whether your manuscript made it or not within a certain time frame. Even if your work didn’t make it this time, take heart. So often when you submit a story or article for publication, you wait a loooong time to find out if it was read, much less accepted. At least in contests, you’ll know for certain if your work was considered or not. And you can move on.
Poets & Writershas an excellent calendar and listing of contests. You can find it at bookstores and also online.

 2. I, myself, sit on the board for a national non-profit for young writers and volunteer my teaching for a local non-profit organization for children.  So, your non-profit program, the Writing Room, touches my heartstrings.  Can you tell us how you founded this program, and how much time you now are able to devote to the Writing Room?  How do you seek out reliable volunteers or do they seek you out?

I talked to a local arts foundation, the Emrys Foundation here in South Carolina, that was willing to sponsor a program for writers. So I agreed to direct the program, which offers seminar and workshops to writers of all levels. I’ve recruited some terrific writing teachers, and we offer at least one seminar or class at no charge every season, as well as multi-week intense workshops (from fiction writing, flash fiction, writing for children, and screenwriting) for a range of fees. One of our goals is to eventually raise funds to offer one or two scholarships every season for folks who want to take in-depth writing workshops, but need some financial assistance. It’s a new program, which I spearheaded because I sensed we had an untapped literary community. Our mission at the Writing Room is to “build a community of writers.”


 3. Aspiring novelists are often curious how much of a platform one needs before tackling the marathon that is a novel (both the writing and publishing.) “Where to focus our energies?” Can you tell us about your fiction writing credits and platform prior to landing your first book deal for The Garden Angel?

I didn’t have much at all, as far as credits. And no platform, really. I hope aspiring novelists will take encouragement from that. You can’t go wrong with focusing your energy on the writing. Easier said, than done—I know! But a set schedule—writing several times a week no matter what—and reading a lot—that will get you far. Also helpful: attending writing conferences and forming a supportive group of fellow writers to read each other’s work.  After winning a fiction award in my state—the first contest I’d won—I attended Bread Loaf Writers Conference. There, I met Julianna Baggott, a generous writer who recommended that I send my manuscript–when I finished it–to her agent. I followed up and queried, and was fortunate to acquire my agent that way.

 4. Back to your latest novel, Secret Keepers.  Where did you get the inspiration for Emma’s character and what kind of research was needed to write from the POV of a 72-year-old woman?

After I got to know Emma—her background, her yearnings—and observed her actions (which sometimes surprised me) it wasn’t hard to get into her head. I like to think that age, gender, race, class, etc. aren’t obstacles to writers. Yeah, I know– that’s one of those Big Ideas that crops up on panel discussions: Can you really write about characters outside of your own experience/age/gender? YES. Imagination. Empathy, Curiosity. They go a long way.  Also, the omniscient point of view in Secret Keepers allows the reader access to the thoughts of a cast of characters: Emma, but also her adult children, her teenage grandson, a landscaper, and a homeless guy.  I really loved using the omniscient point of view, with a narrator who occasionally chimes in.  I hope the reader does, too.  I have more about the story behind SECRET KEEPERS on my website.


   5. On your tour post at The Muffin, you gave great bulleted tips on the process of novel writing: how to be a “weekend writer” and get through the first draft of your novel before focusing on revisions.  What method(s) do you use to keep all of your writing, research and notes organized while pummeling through that first draft? Do you outline; use note cards; have a favorite writing software?
Organize…not one of my talents. I manage piles. I don’t outline, really, but I do take notes on subsequent drafts and revisions. I use notecards to keep track of characters’ basic bios—when they were born, for example—and also to track scenes. If I think a scene is missing—a conversation between two characters that needs to explain something that will figure in later, for example—I make a note of it on a notecard. “Dora and Jake need to talk about Will’s death before we know Bobby remembers…” something like that. Occasionally, when I want to see the big picture and step back, I’ll use flip chart pages to note when things happen—sort of a crudely drawn timeline. That usually happens in revision, when I’m having to nail down details. I think you can find out what works for you as a writer—I love colors, for example. Highlighting my notecards by character is helpful, and using the “highlight” function in Word to figure out what needs to stay [green for me], what needs to be cut [pink], what needs to be moved somewhere else [yellow].  It’s always interesting to see what works for different writers. I’ve interviewed a number of authors, and this topic often comes up. The interviews are posted on my website, on the Interviews with Writerspage, and there’s more commentary on my blog here, and here. I wrote about the zen of writing– you just walk the path– at A Good Blog is Hard to Find

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and insights!  Please tell us what is on the horizon and where we can find more of your work:
I’m drafting a novel….and between drafts I sometimes turn to writing short fiction. Please feel free to visit my website and blog for more information on writing and reading, and drop me an email with questions or comments. Happy writing and reading everyone!

SECRET KEEPERS:  strong storytelling, comic touches, prickly family dynamics, and the magical power of nature.

St. Martin’s Press
Read an excerpt at www.mindyfriddle.com
On Sale: 4/27/2009
ISBN: 978-0-312-53702-9
ISBN-10: 0-312-53702-6
Also available: THE GARDEN ANGEL (St. Martin’s Press & Picador)


Filed under Advice, Author Interviews, books, characters, Fiction, Get Published, goals, Inspiration, Novels, Organization, Perseverance, Platform/Marketing, writer markets, writers, writing inspiration

And the Winner is….

… Luci !!!!

Congratulations! You’ve won a copy of Stephanie Riseley’s book: Love From Both Sides: A True Story of Soul Survival and Sacred Sexuality.

Please email me at mjcwriter “at” comcast “dot” net with your mailing address

And thanks to all who stopped by and commented.

If you’d like a chance to win another FREE book, come back tomorrow for my first ESSAY writing contest announcement and find out what book will be the prize!

1 Comment

Filed under Author Interviews, contests, Give Aways

Janice Lynne Lundy: Blog Tour


Author of Your Truest Self: Embracing the Woman You Are Meant to Be

Janice Lynne Lundy is an inspirational speaker, interfaith spiritual director, syndicated magazine columnist, and the author of four self-help/spiritual growth books for women.

Her newest book, Your Truest Self: Embracing the Woman You Are Meant to Be, has just been released by Sorin Books. your-truest-self-cover

Within every woman there is an essential Truth waiting to be claimed, a Truth that will empower her to claim a spiritual life that is real and authentic, one that will nourish and sustain her every day. Janice Lynne Lundy thoughtfully guides readers toward finding that essential truth for themselves. Drawing from her personal encounters with twelve spiritual mentors—Frances Moore Lappé, Daphne Rose Kingma, Iyanla Vanzant, Naomi Judd, and more—she has created twelve Transformational Truths to guide and enable women to live more peaceful, confident, and open-hearted lives.


Jan is the author of three previously published personal and spiritual growth books: Coming Home to Ourselves: A Woman’s Journey to Wholeness; Awakening the Spirit Within; and Perfect Love: How to Find Yours and Make It Last Forever (co-authored with her husband, Brad Lundy).


The mother of three, stepmother of four, and grandmother of three more, Jan resides on the peaceful shoreline of Grand Traverse Bay in northern Michigan with her husband, Brad, her creative partner and soul’s companion.


Learn more about Jan at her website: www.awakenedliving.com.

Register for her newsletter and she’ll send you her new, inspirational 90-page e-book, The Awakened Woman’s Guide to Life. Visit her blog: www.awakeisgood.blogspot.com. She enjoys hearing from her readers and responds personally. Email: jan@awakenedliving.com.

Interview by Mary Jo Campbell:

(Jan will be replying to your comments and questions all day today, so ask away!)

Jan, thank you for stopping by Writers Inspired on your blog tour to discuss the writing process of and the message conveyed in your newest book, Your Truest Self: Embracing the Woman You Were Meant to Be.


MJC: Writers are often told to “tell the truth” in their writing. How important is it that we find our “Truest Self” in order to make our writing shine?

Jan: Very important! The best writers I know are living as their truest selves, or in the process of “remembering” how to do so. The mentors featured in my book, most of whom are authors themselves, are shining examples of this. As they have become more peaceful and centered, joyous, grateful, and connected to their spirit, their careers have taken off.

I have a 3-part process I’d like to share that can help any of us arrive at this place of empowerment.

First, we must be able to access inner calm. Without it, we’ll remain a jumble of unorganized thoughts and feelings, a bundle of nerves, a mere shadow of our truest self. We may also feel a profound lack of confidence, even fear, about our ability to express ourselves. Spiritual practices help. Chapter Four of my book, “I Engage in Daily Practices that Nurture My Spirit,” explores how to uncover and implement our unique spiritual practices for experiencing greater calm.

Second, once we have begun to access more peace peace, clarity will come. We feel clear, open-minded, and possibilities bound! Our thoughts are lucid, focused; our intuition is on alert. Obviously, this is an ideal place from which to write.

Finally, with clarity comes wisdom. Wisdom is the root of all great endeavors. Wisdom allows us to make optimum choices and operate in the world in beneficial ways. A wise woman is one who displays the “virtues” of Spirit itself: generosity, confidence, joy, and compassion. Now that’s living as your truest self!

MJC: Many writers, myself included, want to back into a hole and lick our wounds when those rejection letters come in. What steps can give us to regain our self-confidence and find the courage to forge ahead?

Jan: On occasion, I still fall prey to this one myself. A lackluster review on amazon.com can send me tumbling into despair. Most writers are sensitive sorts; I know I am. On the other hand, if we didn’t feel so darn much we wouldn’t be insightful writers!

Rejection is difficult. Early on, I experienced much rejection from agents and publishers with this book. But we cannot give up; I didn’t. If we believe in our message, are faithful to honing our craft, and willing to work with constructive criticism, experiences of rejection can actually build self-confidence.

We learn courage, I believe, through patterning ourselves after bold others. Activist Frances Moore Lappé was one of those for me. She helped me formulate the message in Chapter Eleven, “I Courageously Live and Speak My Truths.” Frankie reminded me that people who appear to be fearless have actually been intimate with fear. Facing our fears and walking through them is key to living as our truest selves.

We must also remember that fear is a trait of the ego (our false self). It is not a reflection of our true nature, which is love and peace. We can begin to make conscious choices to move away from the disempowering messages of the ego and re-align ourselves with those of our spirit, and the greater Spirit (that some call God). My book offers an interfaith roadmap for doing just that.

MJC: Do you believe that all women can tap into their “Truest Self?” Or are there some who are buried too deep in toxic thoughts and actions?

Jan: Yes, I believe all women can tap into their truest self. Our truest self is not a version of ourselves for which we must seek; it is who we are by birth and destiny. We all have an innate core—an essence—which is characterized by peace, love, joy, and other qualities of Spirit. This is our truest self. We simply need to uncover her and bring her into the light of day.

Doing so, however, is a matter of readiness. It is true that some women may be too buried in toxicity to perceive the glory of their own being. But their “stuckness” may be temporary. There is an ancient Taoist saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Any growth we may experience in life depends on readiness—our willingness to grow and change. Until we are ready, we’ll likely remain mired in old patterns, thoughts, and behaviors that do not serve our truest self.

A statement by diarist Anais Nin rings true here: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was greater than the risk it took to blossom.” Profound statement, isn’t it? (I mentioned later to Jan, that this very quote is my tag-line for Writers Inspired!)

MJC: Time seems to always be in demand, especially for busy mom writers. How can we encourage our families and significant others to give us the time and space we need (without the guilt trip)?

Jan: I adhere to the maxim that we teach others how to treat us. As we begin the journey of valuing ourselves—especially our creative selves—we’ll need to educate (or re-train) others to do the same.

We begin with baby steps. We get clear about what it is that we need to do to honor our creativity. I love how author/photographer Jan Phillips explained this in Marry Your Muse. Jan is one of the twelve “Holy Women” featured in my book. The “Artist’s Creed,” which is the foundation of her book, states (in part), “I believe I am worth the time it takes to create whatever I feel called to create.”

Upon reading those words, I finally believed all my efforts were worth it, and once that happened, I could ask for my family’s assistance. I was very clear with them about what I needed—time, space, support. I began by taking one hour in the evening just for ME. This increased over time as my children became of school age and were more self-sufficient.

Letting go of guilt is key to embodying our truest self. It’s important to remember that our needs are just as important as those of any other family member. In fact, our temperament—our health and well-being— may determine the well-being of our entire family. Remember the old adage, “If momma ain’t happy, nobody’s happy”? It’s true!

MJC: You mentioned in a previous interview that you self-published three of your books. Can you tell us how getting “Your Truest Self” purchased by a publisher differed from self-publishing?

Jan: First let me say that self-publishing has been an enjoyable experience. I highly recommend it if someone has the means (time and finances) to do so. Self-publishing prepared me well for working with a publisher. Especially when it came to marketing. The creation and marketing of a self-published book is a full-time job, a challenge for many writers who simply want to write—not design or sell!

In today’s challenging market, most publishing houses expect their authors to do most of the marketing work anyway. The publisher will do the initial work of launching the book, but getting it noticed and sold to the public is primarily the author’s job.

There are trade-offs with being published. An issue for some writers is loss of control of the book’s content, format, cover, and layout. Ideally, a team approach is used in publishing and the author’s input is respected. In my case, I appreciated the vision Sorin Books held for my project. It matched my own and we worked well together. It was wonderful having an editor who edited gently. The design team created a lovely product (inside and out) and, for the most part, was receptive to my input. (Though you do get only so many cover choices!) This is not the case for many authors, so I feel fortunate that my experience has been a good one.

Of course, having a publisher purchase your work is a thrill, a powerful affirmation of your course in life. The day I was finally able to hold a copy of Your Truest Self in my hand was one of the proudest moments of my life.

May publishing success be yours, as well!

MJC: This is absolutely wonderful!  Your answers are so passionate and in-depth. I can’t wait to see all the comments they stir up!  REMEMBER:  One lucky random winner will receive a copy of Jan Lundy’s latest book Your Truest Self.  BUT, you have to comment here today to win!

more on Jan…

Described by her readers, audiences, and colleagues as “practical and poetic, possessing deep and gentle wisdom,” Janice Lynne Lundy serves as an interfaith spiritual guide to tens of thousands of women throughout the United States through her nationally syndicated magazine column in Women’s LifeStyle, as a professional speaker and retreat facilitator, and as a Spiritual Director. She has been recognized for her sensitive and compelling interviews as well as for her gift for connecting with soul-searching women. Jan is an adjunct staff member for the Institute of Spirituality at the Dominican Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan.



Filed under Author Interviews, books, emotion, Give Aways, Inspiration