What You Didn’t Know…

What You Didn’t Know…

An article about different authors with Progressive Rising Phoenix Press and what you didn’t know about them.


What You Didn’t Know… Author David C. Hughes

What You Didn't Know...1) Do you prefer to write novels or picture books?

I love to write everything! Over the past three decades I’ve written short stories, a non-fiction book, inspirational and humorous essays, a novel, a youth ministry curriculum, two picture books, newspaper articles, a column for a corporate newsletter, song lyrics, and poetry. If I had to choose my favorites, I would have to say I enjoy writing short stories and essays the most.

2) Fiction or non-fiction?

It depends on my mood! Actually, I enjoy working with both forms, and I’ve found over the years that both forms can be equally effective at communicating the messages I want to convey. In addition, I’ve found it takes as much imagination and creativity to write a non-fiction piece as it does fiction.

3) Your niece illustrated Melted Clowns; will she illustrate other pieces for you?

Yes! She’s a talented 16-year-old who plans to go to art school after she graduates from high school. In addition to Melted Clowns, she developed the artwork we’re using for The Epiphany of Joy. I plan to use her talents for as long as she can stand me!

4) Writing time scheduled or planned?

I write every day, starting as early as possible. Robyn Conley, my friend and editor, hands a button to every person who attends her workshops. Why a button? To remind us writers to keep our “butt on” the chair; that’s the only way the work is going to get done.

5) What are your goals as a writer?

My number one goal is to make a living as a writer. For more than three decades God has called me to write, but until three years ago I didn’t trust He’d provide the financial means to allow me to do it full time. That all changed when God told me flat out I’d write for a living, then gave me a literal assignment to follow through on (The Epiphany of Joy). In 2013 I finally threw in the towel on my corporate job and took the leap of faith; it’s been nothing short of miraculous what God has done since then to mark out the path for me. I KNOW I will make a living at this fun and crazy vocation!

My specific goals over the next five years include advancing “The Epiphany of” series with books such as The Epiphany of Trust in addition to The Epiphany of Joy, to write a book on miracles, to produce several more children’s books, to write a book of essays, and to follow through with Love Me from the Inside Out, the story of a woman who carried, delivered, and is now raising a son who suffered from omphalocele. I also plan to speak on the subject of joy at churches and anywhere else folks are hungry for a positive and uplifting message.

6) Do you prefer your role as a writer or an editor?

Writer, hands down.

7) Neatest interview question you asked while gathering research for The Epiphany of Joy

One of the interview questions for The Epiphany of Joy was simple: “What is joy?” When I first started writing the book, I had no clue what joy was and I was dissatisfied with the dictionary definition (“extreme happiness”). I had an idea there was much more to joy than just extreme happiness, and when I asked folks, “What is joy?” their inspired responses began to open my eyes and my heart to its true meaning. I’ll let you read the book to discover what I discovered!

8) Best part of recording other peoples accounts of miracles is what?……. (author’s account)

Having experienced miracles (with an “s”) firsthand has helped reinforce my faith in God and the Truth of His Word; I have no doubt He exists and He is Who He says He is. And being blessed with the opportunity to listen to other firsthand accounts of miraculous events brings a joy, fascination, peace, and depth of faith like nothing else can. Like I said in one of my pieces, miracles are all around us, we just have to open our eyes to experience them!

9) What are you working on now?

I’m working on four books at once: On My Daddy’s Lap, a collection of lighthearted short children’s stories based on off-the-cuff tales I’ve ad libbed for my daughter over the years; A Matter of Perspective, a collection of essays, both humorous and inspirational; and a collection of short children’s stories in the vein of the Brothers Grimm. My pre-school counting book, Ten Little Hiccups, is currently in the hands of Ken Bryson, my neighbor, a retired Air Force Colonel, and an amazing illustrator! Oh, and my blog, at http://davidchugheswriter.com.

10) Do you believe in miracles?

Absolutely! I’ve witnessed not only big miracles, but everyday miracles such as “chance” meetings, confirmations of prophetic words and visions, and events that, on the outside seem to have “just so happened,” but in reality are divine appointments. God places miracles throughout our day for our pleasure and for His glory—the fun part is finding them!


What You Didn't Know...What You Didn’t Know… Author Deanna Klingel

1) What inspired you to write your first book?

My first books were crayons and laced together with yarn. I’ve always made books. I created books in high school, this was WAY before pinterest or photo shop or any of that. These were totally cut and paste with scissors and glue. Some had intricate bindings. I wrote books for my children, and then for my grandchildren. The first book that was published with the intention of others reading it, was Just for the Moment: the Remarkable Gift of the Therapy Dog. The inspiration was my amazing two therapy dogs and the grace they carried into the nursing homes. I just had to share those moments.

2) Do you have a specific writing style? Simple. Straightforward. Just say it.

3) How did you come up with the title? Amanda and the Lazy Garden Fairy is a new title for this project. As a work-in-progress I called it Amanda’s Magic. The editor thought that might be deceptive to children, since Amanda doesn’t really have any magic. It’s the Garden Fairy who has the magic. They got it right, I think, with this new title.

4) Is this a series? No, this isn’t a series. This is one funny little stand alone story with a surprise ending that might bring out serial giggles.
5)Do you prefer picture books or novels? Do you mean to read or to write? It’s hard, maybe impossible, for me to compare the two. They have different audiences, different mechanics, and are crafted differently. They are both fun to dream up and both a lot of work to complete. I enjoy all books. But their purpose is so different, I really can’t pick one over the other. My answer would change by the mood and the hour.
6) What books have influenced your life most? Oh dear. That’s another huge question. Influence has flowed from pages into my soul for my entire life. The poetry and Bible stories I listened to at bedtime, the classics I learned to read on my own, Seventeen Magazine advice, Romance. I think everything we read influences us in some way. We probably aren’t even aware of it all. But anytime we have something to think about, something that brings emotion to the surface of our lives is going to influence us in some way. I’ve always enjoyed historical fiction and biography, so as far as influencing what I write, that’s probably key. Louisa May Alcott and Laura Ingalls Wilder told me I wanted to write stories. John Jakes told me I could make historical fiction fun, for the writer and the reader. Markus Zusak told me it was okay to write outside the box.
7) Where is your favorite place to write? My favorite place to write is at home. My office/studio is in the loft of our log house. If I turn my head from my computer screen I am looking out at the rhododendron and pine that covers the mountain in my view. All my resources and files are beside me, the printer, the stapler, the hole punch, pencils, erasers, dictionaries, every thing I could want is at my fingertips. The chair is something called ergonomic which I think means one can sit and work a long time comfortably. My husband installed French doors so I can’t hear the TV below. It’s my quiet place, comfortable and comforting at the same time. It makes my work time more productive.
9) Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? One of the most exciting reasons for attending conferences is to meet new writers. I recently met Laura Fitz who has created a lovely little photo book called Poodle On A Noodle. She plans to sell it to raise money for cancer research. She’s having trouble finding places to sell it, believe it or not. I also met Elizabeth Dulemba who wrote Bird on Water Street, a middle grade historical fiction about copper mining on the Georgia-Tennessee border. I hope both these authors have a wonderful time and sell a bunch of books.
10)What are your current projects? Currently I’m marketing marketing marketing. I have a YA nonfiction Rock and a Hard Place, A Lithuanian Love Story that just came out in March, that I’m getting around. My first picture book, Beth’s Birds, which is the first in a series of Pre-K backyard nature, also came out in March. I’ve got two middle grade historical fiction, Blue-Eyed Doll, and Rebecca and Heart, both under contract, so I’ll soon begin editing. I’ll begin writing again very soon, another YA historical nonfiction about a young girl working with the French underground resistance in World War II. When Amanda and the Lazy Garden Fairy comes out, I’ll be traveling and marketing that one in garden centers, nature stores, and of course school libraries, toy and book stores. I enjoy the travel and marketing, but I must keep writing as well. The voice within can’t be ignored.


What You Didn't Know...What You Didn’t Know… Author Amanda M. Thrasher  

1) Did you always want to be a writer? Like many writers the answer is no. I grew up loving words specifically poetry, a beautiful ending, and of course creative writing. I had no intentions of going down the ‘author’ path. I fulfilled a request, by my mom, when she was ill. Took me down this road and I haven’t veered off of it yet.

2) Do you prefer to write chapter books or picture books? I definitely prefer the chapter books, fifty thousand words and up. The story lines, characters, twists, and bringing the ink to life is always a challenge. It’s part of what keeps the writers mind engaged, and never gets old.

3) Which book was the hardest for you as a writer to finish? Without question The Greenlee Project. This book was difficult for many reasons. The topic is brutal, relevant, and painful for many tweens and teens, not to mention their parents, friends and communities. Cyber bullying and bullying isn’t new, but it’s real. Enhanced by the tools our kids don’t know how to use, it’s a terrifying issue. As a parent, this book, the characters so life-like, was a painful, emotional ‘write.’

4) Who is your favorite character? My favorite character is Boris. He’s from the Mischief series. (Lilly, Boris & Jack). He’s just lovely. Not perfect at all. Round, clumsy, tries really hard, but never seems to get it right. His heart is always in the right place. He’s always with Jack and Lilly. But he constantly makes you smile. He’s that character….makes you laugh.

5) What are you working on now? My Work in progress is the third installment of the Mischief series. I’m ready to see what these little fairlings are doing.

6) Will there be a sequel to The Greenlee Project? Well, I could certainly write one. I have a storyline in mind. The characters are strong enough and it wouldn’t be unlikely that Laurel couldn’t be dealt with…

7) How often do you write? I’m  getting back to a regular writing schedule. We’ve been busy with Progressive for the past year and a half. It’s time to focus on all of the writing at hand. We had to set up the company first, we have many pieces in place that we’re trying to accomplish. We had to learn it first, still learning. We’re just learning it together. Now we can write as well. To answer the question, I try to write at least 3 or 4 times a week, but would like to write daily if possible. If I’m not feeling it, I do not force it. Rewriting bad material is time consuming and draining.

8) Which character do you like the least? Um. I don’t think I dislike any of my characters, but I certainly feel sad and sorry for a couple of them. For example Laurel, The Greenlee Project, classic mean girl. So obvious hidden insecurities, hates everything about herself. Only perfect to everyone else. So many tweens, teens, eventually grow up and naturally just become adult versions of the same. Trouble is in today’s world our tweens and teens give into peer pressure. They simply don’t know how to comfortably be themselves; following a crowd is easier.

9) What is the one piece of advice you would give to writers? The industry has changed, chart your own course. Know the direction you’d like to go. Are you writing for yourself? Longevity or to share your work? My one piece of advice would be to narrow down your goal before you make a single publishing decision. The road though exciting, will require discipline, hard work, and marketing.

10) What do you love the most about being a writer? I love creating stories that have beautiful endings, always have, or at least I try. Even story lines with terrible topics, still have a positive resolution. Why? Because as a writer that’s ‘my’ thing. Take a reader eventually to a positive place. Every writer has a ‘thing.’ That just happens to be mine. I love knowing that I was able to do that, if only for a minute.


What You Didn't Know...What You Didn’t Know… Author Emma Gingerich

1) What led you to write this book?

When I first started writing, I wasn’t thinking about a book. I was just merely writing because it made me feel better. My stories turned into a book when I got overwhelmed with people asking me questions about the Amish and what is was like to leave.

2) How did you come up with the title?

Some people would call me the runaway Amish girl as a nickname, so I thought it is great fit for my book.

3) What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical)       in bringing this memoir to life?

I wrote from my memory and heart. I didn’t need any research or anything of that nature.

4) Do you have any regrets leaving the Amish community?

I have no regrets leaving the community; however, I miss my family and wish I could see them more often.

 5) Who do you miss the most?

I miss my sister Sarah the most. We were very close while growing up.

 6) What if anything would you have done differently?

I wish I could have told my parents that I was unhappy and wanted to leave, but that was not an option. Maybe if I had to do it all over again, I would tell them anyway and hope for the best.

 7) Do you plan to write another book?

Yes I plan to write another one that will continue my story of how I survived my life outside the Amish.

8) What was the greatest lesson you learned about yourself during this journey?

I found an inner peace within myself. Before I started writing, I felt angry and wanted to be rebellious against the my family. Then when I started writing I focused on the memories that made me the person I am rather than the negative angry things that really didn’t have a relevance, except for maybe tearing down my family and I couldn’t do that. I feel amazing with the things I learned about myself. I truly am blessed.

 9) What advice do you have for other young Amish women?

I advise women to let their voices be heard, don’t let the male be a dominance over your life. Follow your heart. If you want to leave the Amish or any situation you’re in, Amish or not, just go do it! Ask God for guidance and rely on Him to help you make tough decisions. In the end, you’re going to come out stronger than ever. Never rely on other people to help you make that first step. Support is all they can give you.

 10) What makes you smile?

There are many things that make me smile, including my embarrassing moments or the things I do and say that are just plain immature…. And that happens pretty often. My heart smiles when I can help someone who needs encouragement, love, and support.


What You Didn’t Know… Author Linda Boyden

1) Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
What You Didn't Know...

I learned the value of timing. I wrote the original version of Boy and Poi Poi Puppy about twelve years ago. Tried to sell it and it was rejected. I was a very active storyteller at the time, performing weekly, and knew it would have appeal. Consequently, I illustrated a version of the book to use at those events. Didn’t self-publish because at that time it wasn’t a viable option. My audiences loved it, but still no publisher wanted it. I went on to sell three other picture books, but this one stay patiently behind and waited.

Fast forward to 2013 and how the book industry has changed. It’s a most exciting time to be an author/illustrator. When I connected with Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, I knew Boy and Poi Poi Puppy’s time had come! All an author needs is to find the right editor and publisher, the one who believes in your work as much as you do, and voila, the time will be right.

 2) What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

A prominent agent in his critique of one of my works in progress said the piece didn’t grab him because the main character was flat; I did not have the voice or anything close to it. I left that conference shattered, but a few months later, I put aside my vanity and had to admit the guy was right. I have since revised that piece and it’s much stronger tand my main character is more real.

The best compliment came from a little girl after I read my first picture book, “The Blue Roses” at a local event. After my presentation, she lingered until she could speak with me. She touched the picture of Rosalie (my protagonist) on the cover and said, “I love this book because Rosalie looks just like me. Thanks.” Before I was published, another author and good friend asked me why I wanted to be published: for fame or fortune? I had no answer until that little girl’s compliment. I write so my words or my art will touch a child’s life. Make her or him feel a bit more important.

3) How do you write? With a pen? A pencil?

That depends on what I’m writing. Since December 2011 I try my best to write poem a day. The first year I only made it to 311 new poems but this year I am at 208 (as I write this it’s July 16) so I think I’ll get the full 365 this year. Poems I write longhand in composition journals with a pen. If any seem worthy of revision then I type on my computer for revisions.

First drafts of picture books are the same. I have separate journals for them and then type the ones that seem most promising.

Novels are done entirely on computer.

Why the difference? I think it’s because of objectivity. My poetry stems directly from my heart and because picture books need so many poetic elements I choose to start them via pen-in-hand for the physical connection, if you will. I like to see the ink form the words, and feel them flow from my hand onto the white paper. For novels and nonfiction I need to be objective and follow the plot sequence.



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