Wednesday’s Writer with Judy DuCharme

Judy Ducharme

 

Today I have author Judy DuCharme answering some questions for us. Welcome, Judy!

When you were young, did you ever see writing as a career or full-time profession?

I always wanted to write. I don’t know if I considered it a career possibility, but I saw myself writing a book. In high school I wrote short stories and poetry. However, I never thought I could tuck myself away for eight hours a day and write – I was too social, so I didn’t pursue it until later in life.

Have you ever won any awards for your writing?

Yes, for my first book The Cheesehead Devotional Kickoff Edition I won my first award: Best New Writer 2013 at the Write-to-Publish Conference. A year later I entered the Guideposts Workshop Contest. This is every other year and has three or four thousand entries. Twelve winners are selected and sent to New York for a week of training. I was one of the winners in 2014. My first novel and first novella did not win awards, but my next Cheesehead Devotional . . . the Hall of Fame Edition has won six awards. My latest novel, Blood Moon Redemption, has won five awards. Christmas Ivy, my short story, has won two awards.

Have you ever received a rejection?

Oh my, yes. I’ve received several. It’s part of the writing and publishing journey. It’s tough, but you have to develop thick skin and trust God for placing you exactly where you should be.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to an unpublished writer?

Get to a conference. This is the place you meet publishers, agents, and acquisition editors. It is also where you can hone your craft and learn to fix the areas where you’re weak. It’s where you meet authors right where you are, those ahead of you that can offer advice, and those behind you that you can assist.

Do you take time to plot and outline your books? Or do like to write by the seat of your pants?

I am a pantster. In many ways, I feel very undisciplined. When deadlines hit, I can be pretty disciplined, but I’ve found that much of my writing occurs in 45 minute sections of time. I do pray for inspiration and often find I write longer than 45 minutes once I get going and if the characters take over the story which does occasionally happen. I do need to plot out some transitions and events at certain times.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love the outdoors, so I love to walk in the woods, walk the beach, and just be outside. I love to be on the water – on a jetski or a boat. Our daughter gave us our first grandchild, a beautiful boy, a year ago, so I spend as much time as I can with him. We are very involved in our church and prayer group, and we’re part of an organization that works with international students that come here for summer employment. And we have a fairly large extended family and there are many family events.

Is there a message in your book you hope readers will relate to?

My passion is that my readers will become strong in the Lord. All my books have this heart embedded in them.

Do you have a mentor author or a particular author whose work inspires you?

I think the main author that inspired me incredibly, and I sought to follow her style, is Bodie Thoene. I just love all her books with history and inspiration combined, not to mention such engaging, insightful writing. My next favorite author is Joel Rosenberg. I love his suspense along with such Biblical truths in history and prophecy. My book Blood Moon Redemption was greatly influenced by his style. I also enjoy Colleen Coble’s mysteries and wish I could craft a story with so many twists and turns. Lynn Austin is another I enjoy reading – she writes inspirational historical stories so well.

What kinds of research do you do for your books?

Whatever is needed. You need to make research your friend. I’ve spent a great deal of time in non-fiction books getting background information, newspapers and google searches for current events, videos and youtube snippets, boat tours and lighthouse tours (for my current WIP). In doing all my research for Blood Moon Redemption, I had to look up distances between Syria and Israel, ISIS information, Muslim and Jewish practices and backgrounds. Our daughter lives in the Washington DC area, so all my friends were sure I’d never make it through security when I flew out to visit.


It was just a relic, and hers, just a name. Who knew what time it really was?

The blood moons were always surrounded by great persecution and great provision, great trial and great triumph.

When the Jews were expelled from Spain and traveled with Columbus, only a tassel from a prayer shawl remained with them to signify their faith. That tassel, handed down, stolen, and hidden, became a marker of God’s protection and now is the focus of a terrorist scheme and a young woman’s destiny.

Blood Moon Redemption is an end-times thriller that will keep you riveted until the very last moonrise.


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Find Judy online

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@PackerJudy

judyducharme7@gmail.com

Tuesday’s Teaser with Judy DuCharme

Blood Moon Redemption

by Judy Ducharme

 

Tassie is driven. She’s an up and coming lawyer, and though she loves her parents, she wants no part of her mother’s study of Columbus and a relic for which she was named. Omar is charming and smooth. Although Tassie senses something underneath Omar’s charm, she ignores it to her hurt. Hector is a strange, unkempt little man that comes into Tassie’s life at the most inopportune times until she’s desperate.

Tassie is kidnapped and may well be a pawn in a terrorist plot. How does she alert others to the danger and why can she not just shout it out? How will she escape? Will she escape? Her brother comes to the game late – will he be able to find her? Can they stop the plot?

Tassie and her family need to come to grips with the reality of the blood moon prophecies and what God has planned for their lives. Omar must face the One who pursues him.


Read an excerpt

CHAPTER 3

PRESENT DAY, CHICAGO

“Tassie, this man asked for you.”

Tassie held up one finger as she finished writing her closing remarks. I need to practice this. Almost have this thought down.

“Miss Stevens?”

“Uh-huh, Uh-huh.” Tassie nodded. Satisfied she had the wording correct, she looked up. “Yes?”

“I do apologize, Miss Stevens. The man insists he wants you to represent him.”

“Certainly, send him in.”

“You may want to come out, Tass.”

Tass? Tassie frowned. Normally Teresa maintained proper decorum and called everyone Mr. or Ms. To call her Tass? Something must be wrong. “What is it?”

“See for yourself, Ms. Stevens. Please.”

Tassie sighed. So focused on her closing arguments, but always willing to add a client. Why in the world did she need to go out there? Tassie smelled him before she saw him. She raised her eyebrows as she looked at Teresa. Teresa ran her hand over her face and returned to her desk.

“Aah, Miss Stevens. Thank you for seeing me.”

Tassie wanted to run. This was not the type of client her firm attracted or serviced. The older man ran his fingers down his long gray beard.

Oh, no, his eyes twinkle like Santa Clause in Miracle on 34th Street. She had watched that movie every year with her mom while growing up. It was a Christmas movie, but her parents always taught her to appreciate the culture she lived in. But the man in the movie didn’t wear a plaid shirt and she doubted he smelled.

She glanced over to Teresa’s desk, hoping she would intervene. Teresa smiled, winked, and looked down. Then it dawned on Tassie: this was a trick to embarrass the rookie. Okay, I’ll play along.

“How may I help you, sir?”

“I would like to discuss a case with you. I’ve met your mother.”

Sure you have.

Tassie kept seeing images of her cousin’s farm, and she was reminded of the smells of cows, pigs, and sheep. It didn’t fit in this high-class office. But this must be her initiation. They would all have a laugh over drinks about what a good sport she was.

“Certainly, please come to my office, and we’ll talk.” Okay, Tass, don’t sound too cheery. Everyone is looking, big eyes, smiling, some even holding their nose. Well, it was fun at my cousin’s farm.

Tassie opened her office door and held out her arm inviting Santa Claus from the farm into her office. She paused before following him in, smiling at everyone observing her. Trying not to chuckle, knowing she was passing the initiation test with flying colors, Tassie started around her desk. She hesitated, then grabbed her legal pad from her desk, rolled the pages to an empty sheet, and sat down facing the man on the same side of the desk. I’ll be kinder, be at his level.

Picking up her pen, she smiled. Hope I can get the smell out of my office. “So, you know my parents, Mr. . . . I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name.”

“Hector, Hector Woodley.” He reached out and patted her arm. Tassie fought not to recoil. “Your father is a very kind man.”

“That, he is,” Tassie agreed. “You know him well?”

Mr. Woodley rubbed his chin. “He may not recall me. Your mother probably would though.”

“Oh.”

“Your mother and I visited many years ago, but enough of that. Today is your day.”

“My day?” Tassie crossed her legs and wrote Hector Woodley at the top of the page. “Yes, you need to pay attention to your mother’s interest in the blood moons.”

“What?” Tassie leaned back in her chair and looked straight at Hector. “Who are you and why are you here?” Her face heated.

“Tassie, don’t get upset.” “Mr. Woodley, you may call me Ms. Stevens. You said you needed to speak to me about a case.”

“Yes, yes.” He leaned forward. “There is a very strong case for you to play an important part in keeping this nation safe.”

Tassie stood up. “Mr. Woodley, I will convey your greeting to my parents. I do believe our conversation is over.” Trying not to march, she strode to the door and opened it. Hector remained sitting. “Have a nice day, Mr. Woodley.” She tipped her head toward him.

Nodding, he stood up, ran his hand down his beard again and smiled sweetly. Santa Claus.

“Don’t forget, Tassie.” He walked out the door and down the hall. She stood with her hand on the door knob for a minute, shook her head, and shut the door.

What was that? How did he know my mom was into blood moons? Wait, maybe he’s a security breach. Tassie started to open the door and call for security. Wait, get a grip, Tass. This is not a company issue. She walked around her desk and sat down.

How did he know? Is he a hacker? That doesn’t even make sense. I’ve never written down the words ‘blood moons’. Did my mother put him up to this? Mother drives me nuts at times, but she is too classy to send smelly Santa to my office.

A noise brought Tassie out of her musings. Teresa stood in front of her desk. “Ms. Stevens, are you okay? I’m so sorry I let him in.”

Tassie looked hard at Teresa. “This wasn’t a rookie lawyer initiation? A good laugh for everyone?”

“That has never happened here, Ms. Stevens. Did he scare you?”

“No, he just made no sense. Must have wandered in from the street.”

“I won’t let it happen again. So sorry.” Teresa excused herself, leaving Tassie to her thoughts.

Walking over to the window, Tassie studied the gray sky. Well, no blood moons tonight. A knock came on the door. Tassie turned. The glass window revealed it was the senior partner. She quickly put Hector Woodley out of her mind and opened the door. “Mr. James, I have my closing arguments almost complete. Would you like to look them over?”


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Wednesday’s Writer with Penny Musco

Life Lessons from the National Parks: Meeting God in America’s Most Glorious Places

Romans 1:20 says God’s “invisible attributes—His eternal power and divine nature” show themselves in what He has created. Our national parks are indeed our nation’s “best idea,” as historian, writer and environmentalist Wallace Stegner noted, but there were God’s idea first!

John Muir, the man often called the Father of our National Parks, unequivocally and unapologetically linked the beauty around him with its Creator:

“I am sitting here in a little shanty made of sugar pine shingles this Sabbath evening. I have not been at church a single time since leaving home. Yet this glorious valley Yosemite might well be called a church, for every lover of the great Creator who comes within the broad overwhelming influences of this place fails not to worship as he never did before. The glory of the Lord is upon all His works; it is written plainly upon all the fields of every clime, and upon every sky, but here in this place of surpassing glory the Lord has written in capitals.”

–from The Life and Letters of John Muir by William Frederic Badé


Life Lessons from the National Parks: Meeting God in America’s Most Glorious Places expands on Muir’s vision. The book’s inspirational stories chronicle remarkable lands, events and people, but more importantly, they reflect the God who superintends each one. It’s a four- season exploration of more than forty parks, memorials and historic sites, and includes tips for planning your own visits.


Today’s Wednesday’s Writer features Penny Musco. Thank you for being here, Penny.

When you were young, did you ever see writing as a career or full-time profession?

I wrote a few things as a child—most notably, a short script a la “Man from U.N.C.L.E” in the sixth grade, which I still have—but never thought of it as a profession. It was just something creative and fun to do. Theatre was more my thing. In retrospect, I realize I had a lot of writing influences and perhaps even a genetic disposition toward putting pen to paper. My father composed short poems occasionally, mostly about my mother and his father. His mother, who died before I was born, wrote a column for her local paper for over a decade. I have copies of many of them, which I treasure.

Have you ever won any awards for your writing?

Yes, Life Lessons from the National Parks won an Excellence in Editing award from the Christian Editor Connection in 2017.

Have you ever received a rejection?

You’re joking, right? Rejection is part and parcel of the creative life. I first learned about it trying out for plays in high school. As a theatre major in college and in summer stock, I was fortunate to be cast in some great roles, but didn’t get others I wanted. I auditioned for about two years in New York City, and landed only one role way, way, way off-Broadway amid rejections too numerous to count. I worked in radio for several years, experiencing additional rebuffs. When I finally settled on freelance writing as my career, I got more noes than yeses. I received 17 rejections before Sonfire Media agreed to publish Life Lessons from the National Parks.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to an unpublished writer?

Persist! Keep at it through all the rejections you will definitely receive. Continue to learn from others and from your mistakes, but persevere. By the way, you don’t have to be published to get enjoyment from writing. Believe me, those who come after you will be thrilled to read what you write, especially if it’s about you and your life.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love to travel, in particular to national park sites (obviously!), but family obligations, time and money don’t allow me to do as much as I’d like, at least right now. On a day to day basis, I love, love, love to read. I peruse at least one newspaper every day. My book list is over 35 pages long and I’m always adding to it. Non-fiction opens me up to the world with its different locations and issues; fiction relaxes me.

Where do you get your ideas for your books?

My husband says he doesn’t have to think because I think enough for the two of us (that’s just his excuse for not remembering anything). I do have an overactive imagination, I know, which sometimes means I have to rein in my thoughts when they go to dark places (see Psalm 94:19 if you have the same problem). The upside is that, combined with life experiences and what I read, I have a lot of material to draw on. But really, anyone who feels the urge to express him or herself in writing, who is curious about the world and others, and is at least somewhat self-aware, will always find something to write about.

What kinds of research do you do for your books?

In-person when I can, and also using reliable online sources and other peoples’ writings. Looking at old photos helps with descriptions when I write historical fiction (like my e-novella from Pelican Book Group, The Christmas Child). Your local library is your best friend!

Is there a message in your book you hope readers will relate to?

The ultimate lesson of Life Lessons from the National Parks is that God loves you, He died to forgive all the wrong things you’ve said and done and thought, and He’s calling you to accept His free gift of salvation and eternal life. After that what I hope my book will do is whet your appetite for our over 400 national parks sites. You’ll not only discover our country’s beautiful scenery, but experience our history in a way you never did in school. And—you’ll discover more about the God who’s Author of it all.

Here’s a tip to start your exploration: the vast majority of National Park Service sites charge no entrance fee. If you want to check out one that does, take advantage of an upcoming date when all park admissions are free. National Public Lands Day, this year on Saturday, September 28, is one of five annual no-cost dates.


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Books A Million


Find Penny online: PennyMusco.com