An interview with Christine Schimpf

If you could change anything in your last book what would it be?AChristmasKindOfPerfect_prc5369_680

The timing and submission process. Since I independently published my first two books I didn’t have a clue how long the traditional publishing process would actually take. Now, I have a complete and thorough understanding and can time my submissions more appropriately.

How much of a factor is your faith in your writing?

It’s the start, the middle, and the end of my writing. In my conversations with God I throw a couple of ideas around until I sense which topic holds the most importance. If I get lost in a scene and it’s not working for whatever reason, I take my dog, Rudy, out for a long walk. By the time I return home, the scene is clear, in fact, there are times I’ve actually went from a stroll to a fast walk to a run to get back to my computer and hammer out the details that appear as vivid as a movie in my head.

What is the biggest challenge in writing?

Letting the work go and calling it “done”. When you take an idea, give it the characters with their problems and goals, create a setting and other characters, weave the faith statement – the whole point to the story – throughout the scenes, work in cliff hangers and conflict and joy and an ending and then begin editing and polishing over and over again. It’s extremely difficult to let it go and present the story to the world. It almost feels like losing a best friend.

Any advice to new writers?

One of the best steps I took as a young writer was to join a large critique group through a community college. It allowed me to bring in my story, chapter-by-chapter, read it aloud and listen to feedback. By doing this, although a little scary at first, I grew as a writer and as a person who could deliver a sound critique.

Anything on the horizon for you?

Actually yes. In September, I finished a romantic novella entitled, A Perfect Fit, a spin-off romance from A Christmas Kind of Perfect. The story steps into the life of a young woman who typically chooses the wrong kind of man until she turns the decision over to God. But it’s not always easy letting go, even of behaviors that hurt us.

Presently, I’m working on A Perfect Ending another spin-off romance from A Christmas Kind of Perfect with intentions on finishing that work by summer 2018.  This story peeks in on a woman with a professional career. Her intentions are to keep moving forward and achieving more and more success until God places her in an unexpected situation and turns her world upside down.

A peek into Christine’s new release, A Christmas Kind of Perfect

Conrad Hamilton thought his life would be easy. A great job running his own construction business, living in his hometown in Door County, Wisconsin, with Lila Clark by his side. He planned on marrying her as soon as she returned from her Chicago internship but it never happened.

Lila never expected to become a successful writer nor did she plan on spending the last decade in New York. But she did.

Can the magic of Christmas turn two hearts back to one another again or is it too late to capture that special kind of perfect?

Chapter 1

Lower Manhattan, New York

Lila almost tripped over her suitcase as she swept into her apartment. Hand to chest, she willed the panic to subside. It seemed that everywhere she went lately, she saw a tall, broad-shouldered man who reminded her of…him. Her first love. He was even showing up in her dreams.

Taking a deep breath, she locked the door and kicked off her high-heels. She dragged the suitcase to her bedroom and quickly unpacked as if by doing so she could set memories from ten years ago back in the closet of her mind where they belonged.

It hadn’t mattered where her book signing was or that she’d been out on the west coast working on the movie versions of her books, Conrad haunted her.  

Ah, the mind of an author was a terrifying place at times. She’d been working too hard. At least that’s the excuse she gave herself. Settling into more comfortable clothes she headed to the kitchen.

Lila walked to the window of her apartment cradling a cup of chamomile tea sweetened with honey. She watched the street traffic below, which reminded her of a busy ant colony. How she wished the city would sleep, if only for one night. Oh, the blessed silence. She’d walk for miles. Better yet, she’d run. Although Lila feared the attempt wouldn’t be easy. Like so many other activities she used to enjoy doing, she’d abandoned running since moving to the Big Apple years ago.

She padded over to her favorite chair, a chaise longue in dire need of new fabric, and snuggled in like a fat cat finding its spot. The chair stuck out compared to the eclectic-themed room, but Lila refused to reupholster the piece despite the persuasive arguments from her friends. In an odd sort of way, Lila drew comfort from the inanimate object. They shared the same flaw—an inability to fit in with their surroundings.

Lila’s bones ached. Now that she was back in the city, her life would return to normal. She’d hibernate for the next few weeks and start outlining her next book. Ugh. At this point, she’d much rather clean her uncle’s morning catch of fish.

Goodness, what had made her think of her uncle? He’d died years ago.

Reaching for the remote, she flicked on the receiver. Sounds from an acoustic guitar filled the room. Ooh, much better. She placed her emptied cup near her phone on the end table, leaned her head back on the cushion, and stared up at the ceiling.

Her smartphone buzzed. Ahh. The phone always seemed to ring at the worst of times, scaring her half to death. The clock had barely moved five minutes, and she’d bet her last chocolate donut that her agent Andrea was calling with another idea for a book tour. Lila swiped the call through. With tired eyes and a worn-out spirit, she forced a pleasant tone. Sounding irritated was not how Lila wanted to present herself. “Hello.”

“Hi, I’m calling for Lila Clark.”

Lila’s heart stopped as if she’d skidded on ice and slammed her vehicle into a fire hydrant. This wasn’t Andrea. She recognized the sing-song melody in the caller’s voice, so reminiscent of someone from the past. Was her memory going as well as her stamina?






Cranberry 1


Can I rant? I’m in several writing groups and what sticks out to me most is that people won’t shut up and accept comments.   These are people’s opinions of your piece that you asked for so listen.  Don’t explain why. Just realize that it made them stop their reading for a moment.  So, write down their comments and reflect on it and maybe change something later.

So step 4, stoicism. Shut up and listen to the people who might just buy your book. They are the ones who can really help your writing. 

Building your brand Part 3

Part 1 was the decision to go whole hog and then develop your tagline as a writer that kind of sets the mood for your journey.

Part 3 isn’t so easy. Writing better, more complex stories. While writing well is always the goal, committing to learning to write better isn’t.  It’s tough. I already have a toughened ego from years of being edited and rejected. Now, I have to learn to open myself up further to accept instruction, take it to heart and use it to write better. 

I’ve purchased probably 50 writing books and have kept about 10 close to my heart ad writing area. After I got my first three published, I went back and looked for the deeper meaning or things that didn’t apply to me then but now had special meaning for me.

When I found out my editor used a writing program to catch the more mundane problems, I bought the program. One is AutoCrit, another is ProWriting Aid and a third is Grammerly. They all have a free option where you can’t put in as many words as the pay version but you can certainly slog your way through them to see if they might help. (They will.)

Mine catches such things as vague or abstract words, over used words, sticky sentences, too many pronouns, etc. Things I don’t want to think about as I write the first draft. 

Do you stand out in a crowd? I think it’s always the writing and the story and the characters but once you get close, branding is the edge to set you up for success. 

Part 4 Stoicism in the face of Criticism

Part 2 Your tagline

I read about this as I was working on a tagline for my upcoming release, working title, “The Christmas List.”  A tagline for a novel is a 10-15 word phrase that gives an emotional snapshot of your novel. An Author Tagline is different. It encompasses the type of novels you create so readers can quickly see what you’re about. Here’s one of the places I looked at for research:

It’s all about sticking in someone’s brain long enough for them to click the “BUY” button.

How to find your tagline as an author? Pick 2-5 words that you want readers to associate with your message. I write clean romance that’s light-hearted, occasionally all out funny. 

“Sweet romance that makes you smile”.  

I’ll try that for a while. It will go on my new cards, my new website (soon, master, soon) and wherever else I can stick that puppy.  I showed you mine, now you show me your tagline.

Brand Building Part 1

Okay, so the first part of building a brand is the why. Prism, my publisher, was acquired  by Pelican. I have my first title okayed for the new publisher and thought this was a great opportunity to go pro.  The working title is The Christmas List but who knows what it will end up being. 

It’s a cute story about a woman who lives by list making, much like moi.  Of course she meets a carefree spirit artist who doesn’t have a thing in common with her List of Husband Qualities. But, he’s a keeper.

Itiem number one: get rid of existing business cards. I have my old ones but once I get the new cover, I’ll get them redone. In the meantime, hand out as many as possible!

Cost $10.00

Building Your Brand as a Writer

I made a decision today. I’m sitting at the racetrack watching my adult son circle Road America at dizzying speeds on his motorcycle during a track day. A track day is where riders practice on a track.  Below is a picture of him goofing around.

So, back to my decision. I’m going to get serious about my platform.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m serious about my writing but I have always viewed my platform as a necessary evil. Now, I’m going to try and view it as an ally to get my message out. Follow along in the next week as I stumble step by step building a platform that will work for me as a partner. 

The Deadliest Game

I remember when they banned dodgeball in my school. As an inept nerd, I was overjoyed. As I cheered, the white tape holding my glasses together cut into my soft nose. Was it possible that I would keep a pair of glasses without incident throughout an entire school year? It looked promising unless I had them on while reading and fell asleep.  

Cut to rings of disappointed boys playing tag instead of pummeling nerds at warp velocity. Now they had to be content with shoving tag. 

Cut to decades later, I am a science teacher.

Imagine my horrified surprise upon finding the reinstatement of the Deadliest sport. The reincarnation uses soft-ish small diameter balls that whistle when whipped through the heavy air of the gym with a whine of impending doom.

I stand outside, lest a misdirected ball find its way to my designer rims and custom ground glass lenses.  Pity the children within who are forced to participate. I’m holding a roll of white of white medical tape for them. 

Never can say goodbye….

Ah, the Jackson 5 song says it all.  I’m done with my newest novel, tentatively titled, “This Worthy Heart,” and I can’t let it go. Just cannot, cannot cannot send it to my editor. One more read through, one more edit. And now that I’m re-reading Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel, I have a million things I’d like to change, must change, so it sparkles. Never Can Say Goodbye

Picture from Awesome daily: me sitting on my novella….

Maas the Man

Reading or re-reading Writing the Breakout Novel is so enlightening after hitting my third published novel. I know I read this a ton of years ago, but I’m seeing new things even in the introduction. For example, in the foreward, for goodnss sake, Donald Maas says he took an informal survey of how readers chose the books they read. Unlike teachers, who try to keep up with professional texts AND what our students are reading and reading for pleasure, his survey showed people picked books by word of mouth or they liked a previous author. KABLOUIE! 

Stop angsting about your blog like I do (not writing but angsting) or spending your precious seat time tweeting politics. WRITE and write the best novel you possibly can. 

Jerome Buting at Lakefly Writers Conference

On Saturday morning, Jerome Buting, ex-attorney for Steve Attorney, will talk about

Jerome Buting
writing his book, Illusion of Justice: Inside Making a Murderer and America’s Broken System.

A first-time author, Buting said “I wish I had come to this event last year. I would have learned a great deal!”

Buting will share the challenges he faced in writing the book from his perspective as a novice writer, as well as the ins-and-outs of working with a major publisher.

Lastly, Detective Jeremy Wilson will guide writers through the world of digital forensics. The 90-minute Digital Forensics workshop will include the recovery and investigation of material found on digital devices such as computers and phones, as well as material posted on social media sites, as a means to gather evidence and solve crimes. Topics include the process of retrieving information, and the legalities of collecting digital information.

These presentations are only three of over a dozen workshops to help you master the craft and business of writing, regardless of your skill level or genre.