Are you familiar with the By the Book blog? I had the chance to do an interview there last week — why not pop by and check out Beckie’s and my conversation? We talked about when I first started writing, early encouragers, why mystery/suspense, and what I hope readers will take away from my books. Here’s the link: Author, Author! — Janet Sketchley.
K. L. (Kelly) Ditmars is a Canadian writer of inspirational fiction, whose debut novel, All That it Takes, released January 2021. The opening chapters of All That it Takes won a Word Award in 2020 in the unpublished fiction category—a promising endorsement!
Welcome, Kelly, and congratulations on your new release! What is your book about?
My book is a fictional story about Julia Bowen whose husband is murdered. As she navigates her grief she discovers that he died at the hands of a human trafficking ring which she attempts to expose. It is also about her spiritual journey and how the people that help her in her efforts against the trafficking ring also help her come into relationship with God.
What sort of research did you need to do for a subject like this?
To realistically address the issue of human trafficking, I read a lot of books about the human trafficking issue in Canada.
I also have friends who have worked in anti-human trafficking efforts for decades, so I was able to draw on their experience through interviews.
One of the main characters lives on a boat. I live on an island where a segment of the population lives aboard their boats, it wasn’t too difficult to find friends of friends to interview.
Two characters in the story were veterans of the Canadian military service and shared an experience as peacekeepers during the Rwanda genocide. To research this, I read a lot. Two specific books written by General Roméo Dallaire, the Canadian commander of the peacekeeping mission during the genocide, regarding his experience in Rwanda and dealing with post-traumatic stress: Shake Hands with the Devil and Waiting for First Light.
This list is just a tip of the iceberg of research resources I used while writing my book. But it is a good start for anyone looking to read more: klditmarswriter.com/resources.
Do you remember the first germ of idea for All That it Takes?
Most definitely. The beginning of this story came from a dream. In this dream I was fleeing from a friend’s house into the forest behind their home. Of course, when I woke up, I had no idea why I was fleeing. I immediately wrote it down. A month later I had written 52,000 words and had a rough first draft of All That it Takes.
Wow, that’s a fast start! Do you have a favorite character in the story?
Yes, Charlie is my favorite character, I had fun writing him and using him as a vehicle to share God’s love. A close second is Angus, the Irish wolfhound.
Glad I’m not the only writer who loves the animal characters as well as the humans. I see this is book one in the Where Can I Go? series. Will the next book continue Julia’s story or what connects the books in the series?
Yes, the next book will continue Julia’s story as she helps bring the human trafficking ring to justice. It will also be a thriller based around the real battle faced by law enforcement and the legal establishment to charge and convict human traffickers. The whole series not only sees Julia’s efforts against human trafficking, but also her spiritual journey, as she discovers a God who is present through it all. Her spiritual journey begins with an introduction to faith in God and coming to the understanding that God is with us and we are never apart from him. Even though we may not realize his presence, it is always there.
His presence makes all the difference. Can you share any special God moments you experienced working on this project?
I wrote a lot of Charlie’s faith journey from my own experience and when I did it caused me to look back at my own life and see God’s hand. I think writing this story was an affirmation of God’s faithfulness in my own life.
How long have you been writing? And what got you started?
I have memories of writing stories when I was a little girl, of course I don’t have any of those early scribblings, I’ve moved too many times in my life for them to have survived successive purges. A lot of my early writing experiences involved writing stage plays in church. It was my church youth group and creative ministry departments at the churches I’ve attended throughout my life that encouraged and fostered this aspect of creativity in my life.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
I still feel I am a beginning writer as this is my debut novel. I guess I would say, keep writing, keep improving your craft. Take classes, learn from people and authors you admire and who are further ahead in the publishing journey. Go to conferences and mingle with fellow writers and authors.
Figure out what you have to do to make it a reality. I remember when I went to my very first writers conference in 2015, I had a reality check regarding all the things on top of writing that an author has to do. It’s a little daunting and overwhelming at times but basically, it’s an ever-evolving machine to not just write books and stories but also to make sure that they come to be noticed out there in the world and to find their place on the shelf next to other writers.
Wise words. Thank you. Is there a particular song or scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?
Worship music for me is a huge influencer. Worshipping God and loving him through music and declaring his worthiness of his place in my life has always been a vehicle to really hear him speak to me. It puts me in a place where I can hear his voice and seek direction and just nurture that love relationship with him. So, no one song in particular, just the act of worship has made a difference.
There is one verse from Deuteronomy that seems to come to mind more often than any other. Chapter 5 verse 29; “Oh that there were such a heart in them that they would fear me and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever!” I come back to this verse quite often when I struggle with bad choices that I’ve made and circumstances I find myself in. It grounds me in knowing God has my best in mind, and always will. His commandments are there to give me direction and purpose, that I might live the best life possible and be an example and hopefully influence those around me.
I can hear God’s yearning over us in that verse. Now, for something a little lighter, to finish: Chocolate or vanilla? Coffee or tea?
Definitely chocolate and definitely tea.
I have always loved chocolate.
As far as coffee goes, I have never developed a taste for it. I have had sips of coffee throughout my life but could never get past the bitterness.
It was only in my early 50s when I actually had my first cup of coffee. I was in Bulgaria and visiting a monastery with a group and we were offered coffee. I have been a missionary and we were taught that if someone offers you something you graciously accept it. So, that afternoon in Bulgaria, sitting in the courtyard of a beautiful monastery, I drank my first cup of coffee. I even took a picture to prove it. It was thick Turkish coffee, but served in a small demitasse cup and laden with sugar, which helped me finish it. I can still taste that bitter flavor to this day, and I hope I never have to drink another cup of coffee again.
Tell us something you appreciate about where you live.
The mountains, ocean and the mild climate on the west coast. I grew up in northwestern Ontario, and lived a number of years in Alberta, so I have experienced the frozen Canadian winter for much of my life. The rainforest climate here, despite the cloudy wet days in winter, make a lush green background to living that I am enjoying at this point in my life. My mother use to always say, ‘you don’t have to shovel rain.’
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever done?
I think the most unusual thing I’ve ever done involves travel. I’ve been a missionary and lived and traveled to a number of countries, but in 2012 during my undergraduate degree at the University of Victoria, I went to Bulgaria. I participated in a three-week field school in which we documented, through photography and drawing, frescoes in medieval churches in the Balkan mountains. It was fascinating and educational and in a part of the world that I had never been to and I still long to return to.
K. L. (Kelly) Ditmars was born in Kakabeka Falls, ON Canada, and has lived in several provinces since. She has lived and traveled to several countries both as a Christian Missionary and as a curious human soul. To support her traveling habit, she has worked in various industries and occupations throughout her life, from part-time catering to clerking in the Supreme Court of BC. Kelly completed a degree in Medieval Studies at the University of Victoria. She now lives in Victoria, BC where the adventure of life and her writing continues. All That is Takes is her debut novel.
Kelly loves to connect with her readers. You can find her on the following platforms.
Facebook – I have a private Facebook Group called Readers of K.L. Ditmars. I have a live event every Sunday (6:00 pm Pacific) where I talk about my writing journey. This is a new platform for me and I am enjoying this new means of engagement with my readers. Readers can join it via my Author page, through the link provided.
All That it Takes is available to order through your local independent bookstore (with the exception of Chapters/Indigo in Canada).
Editor/Novelist/Teacher Karin Beery says, “There’s no right-or-wrong answer when it comes to the best way to publish a book. It boils down to what you’re willing and able to do.”
That’s the start of a chat we had on Karin’s Write Now Editing blog. She asked questions like which was harder to write: first book or later books, and do I plot or write seat-of-the-pants style. We also talk about traditional and/or independent publishing, and I have a long list of suggestions for new writers.
Remember a while back I posted about my new reader’s journals? Nope? That’s fair, we’ve had a lot going on in our world. Want a chance at a free copy?
If you like to keep track of what you read, maybe with some extra details beyond author – title – date, pop over to Reading is My SuperPower. I’m giving away two copies of the Reads to Remember journal, and there’s a fun interview as well. [Giveaway ends June 24, 2020, and it’s limited to Canada/US. Sorry, but postage is expensive.]
And while you’re there, if you’re not familiar with Reading is My SuperPower, check out the other posts. Just be prepared to add more books to your to-read list
There’s a print book giveaway this month for Hidden Secrets. Unfortunately, it’s only available in continental US and Canada, but if that works for you, check it out at The Suspense Zone. There are a few other suspense giveaways at the same link, for continental US residents only. [Giveaways end October 31, 2019]
And Susan Sleeman from The Suspense Zone also interviewed me. You can check out that conversation here.
If, by chance, you’re a NetGalley reviewer or if you know someone who is and who enjoys mystery/suspense, Hidden Secrets is available there during the month of October. Link: NetGalley. I’m really excited about this chance to get the book in front of some new-to-me reviewers.
Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you I’ve dropped the price of the ebook version of Unknown Enemy to 99 cents USD ($1.32 CAD and the equivalent worldwide). It’s available for Kindle, Kobo, Nook, and Apple, so please let your mystery/suspense-reading friends know! International buy link: Unknown Enemy.
Author Christine Dillon’s third novel, Grace in Deep Waters, released in July, and I caught up with her for a few questions. You’ll find her author bio and the details of her book below, but first, let’s hear from Christine herself.
You’ve lived in a number of countries. Where are you based now? And what’s
something you love about where you live?
I’m currently back in Taiwan where I’ve worked as a missionary for the past
twenty years. As my parents were also missionaries, I have also done most of my
schooling in Malaysia and the Philippines. However, my passport country is
love using my life to tell people about Jesus. People here are friendly and
You’re a Bible storyteller, verbally recounting events from Scripture. How did
writing novels come about?
As a Bible storyteller I couldn’t fail to be impacted by the response that
people had to stories and the fact that they often learned far more than they
would if I’d taught them the main points. The stories lingered.
had also been strongly impacted by certain stories like the Narnia series and
Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. However, I didn’t think I could ever write a
novel. Non-fiction yes, but novels were well beyond me.
seems that God has other ideas because he literally dropped the initial ideas
and title into my head for the first novel which went on to start a series. It
was kind of Him not to give me too much up front because I would have been
overwhelmed. I spent nearly five hard years learning to write fiction. Some
things get easier but it is still the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Grace in Deep Waters is book 3 in the Grace series, each one tackling some heavy
issues in a character-driven, thought-provoking way. Do readers need to begin
with book 1, or can they dive right into the “Deep Waters” of book 3?
I’ve written each book as a ‘stand alone’ story but it would be much more
beneficial to read from book 1.
Each book in the series features a different member of the Macdonald family. Do
you have a favourite character, and if so, why?
You spend so much time with the characters so they grow on you. Most of my
favourite characters are the minor characters. I loved Joy from book 1 and Dr
Paul Webster. I am planning a separate book for him. In book 2, I loved Josh
and Dirk at the plant nursery. Throughout the series I also love Naomi,
Esther’s grandmother. In book 3, one of the main characters is quite hard to
like. I am thankful God doesn’t give up on him because most of us would have.
The side characters of Reg (modelled a bit on my grandfather) and Davy are my
favourites. Writing an eight-year-old was fun.
I know you’re here to talk about fiction, but could you give us a quick intro
to what Bible storytelling is?
Christine: Of course, I love to talk about Bible storytelling. It is a way of simply telling Bible stories so that people not only hear God’s word but can then interact with it. I mostly tell stories to adults and most often with non-Christians. Storytelling has a unique ability to get under people’s defences and allow us to communicate with people who wouldn’t usually listen. I have two non-fiction books on storytelling and you can find out more at storyingthescriptures.com. There are many training posts/videos and video stories there, plus testimonies of people using storytelling around the world.
Christine, thanks for taking time to chat today, and all the best with your
More about the book:
William Macdonald is at the pinnacle of his career. Pastor of a growing megachurch and host of a successful national radio programme. Clever and respected, he’s a man with everything, including a secret. His wife has left him and he can’t risk anyone finding out.
Blanche Macdonald is struggling. Her once rock-solid
marriage is showing cracks. She promised to love her husband for better or for
worse, but does loving always mean staying? Blanche desires to put God first.
Not William. Not her daughter. Not herself.
When is a marriage over? When do you stand and
Christinenever intended to become an author. The only kind of writing she wondered if she might do was biography. However, it was a surprise to her to write poetry, non-fiction and now fiction.
Christine was a
physiotherapist but now she writes ‘storyteller’ on any airport forms. She can
legitimately claim to be this as she has written a book on storytelling and
spends much of her time either telling Bible stories or training others to do
so from her base in southern Taiwan.
In her spare time
Christine loves all things active – hiking, cycling, swimming, snorkelling. But
she also likes reading and genealogical research, as that satisfies her desire
to be an historical detective.
Preparing for the release of her debut novel, Love and
Other Mistakes, on July 30, author Jessica Kate somehow squeezed in time
for one more interview—provided we kept it to three questions. You’ll find her
author bio and the details of her book below, but first, let’s hear from
Janet: On the internet, we’re citizens of the world and
often don’t know which country people call home. So for those who don’t know, I
want to celebrate that you’re an Australian author. What’s something you love
about where you live?
Jessica: Oh, great question! I love Australia’s weather
(visiting the USA I’m often surprised at how much more extreme the temperatures
are), beaches and relaxed vibe. The more I visit beaches overseas the more I
realize how ours really are among the best in the world.
Janet: How did an international author catch the attention of an American publisher?
Jessica: I guess the story starts with first getting an
agent. I met Chip MacGregor at a writing conference in 2015. While I didn’t
have an appointment with him, I went to his class on book proposals and used
the question time at the end to show him mine and ask what he’d improve. He
looked at it and liked it, and long story short he wound up my agent.
Once we’d worked on the book for a while (quite a bit of
re-writing and polishing which really strengthened the book) Chip sent it out
to multiple publishers. I met many of them, either in formal meetings or again
stalking at writing conferences, and then they got the book proposal.
I think it helped that I have an Aussie accent and was wearing a bright red dress at the time. It meant they could remember me more easily. 😊
After a long wait, Thomas Nelson made an offer! I was so
Janet: Love and
Other Mistakes looks like a light-hearted read, perfect for summer. What do
you hope readers take away from the story?
Jessica: Hope! The book combines humor with a lot of
family and romantic drama, and some messy situations. But at the end of the
day, God is bigger than our messes.
Janet: “God is bigger than our messes” – that gives hope,
all right. Jessica, thanks for taking time to chat today, and all the best with
Jessica: Thanks Janet!
More about the books:
There’s a fine line between love and hate…. And for the last seven years, Natalie Groves has hated Jeremy Walters.
Natalie Groves was meant for great things. But soon after her fiancé left, Natalie’s father was diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly her grand plans evaporated…and God felt very far away.
Fast-forward seven years, and an internship presents Natalie a chance at her destiny – but she needs a job to work around it. And the only offer available is worse than a life sentence. Her ex Jeremy, now back in town, is desperate for help with his infant son and troubled teenage niece, Lili. And Natalie may be just the one to help Jeremy…provided they don’t kill each other in the process.
When Jeremy and Natalie join forces, sparks fly. But will either of them get burned along the way?
Kimberly Foster needs help from the last man in the world who would give it.
She and Samuel Payton fought so much during their three-year stint as colleagues that they now reside in different halves of the globe. She’s still the business director of the Virginia-based youth ministry that Sam founded, while he’s back at his family’s farm in rural Australia.
But Kimberly can’t find a suitable replacement for Sam, and the ministry is in trouble. She needs him back. What she doesn’t know is that the Payton farm’s finances are scarier than statistics on Australian spider bites.
She and Sam strike a deal: if she can use her business savvy to save the farm, he’ll return to Virginia and recruit and train his replacement.
Soon Kimberly’s on the edge of the Outback, working more closely with Sam than ever before. Can she protect his family’s legacy, the ministry, and her heart?
About Jessica Kate
Australian author Jessica
Kate is obsessed with sassy romances.
She packs her novels with
love, hate, and everything in between—and then nerds out over her favorite
books, movies and TV in the StoryNerds podcast. When she’s not writing or
discussing fiction, she’s hunting the world for the greatest pasta in
Her debut novel Love and
Other Mistakes releases July 2019, while A Girl’s Guide to the Outback
hits shelves in January 2020.
Ten busy authors have banded together to create a how-to for writers at all stages on the writerly journey. Writing from the Trenches released Sept. 1, and I caught up with one of the authors, Michelle Griep, to learn more about the book.
Janet: Welcome, Michelle, and thanks for taking time to join us. Love the title! It tells me you’ve all been there, you’ve served your apprenticeships, and you have stories to tell and wisdom to share. What excites you most about this project?
Michelle: I love that the reader will get to hear from not just one author, but 10 veterans who’ve been around the writerly block—many times. I learned a lot just by reading what the other writers said!
Janet: I love a book that offers something for every stage of writer, because we can keep going back to it as we grow. What are some of the topics covered?
Villains We Love to Hate
The Right Heroine for the Job
Hooking Your Reader in the First Chapter
Scene Endings to Lead Your Readers On
Creating a Movie Set
Making your Readers Cry
Copyediting your Manuscript
Indie Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing
Marketing for Those Who Hate Marketing
Janet: Where did the book idea come from?
Michelle: MaryLu Tyndall was really the driving force behind this book. I’ll let her answer.
“I’ve read many writing instruction books over the years from many different authors, and I’ve learned a great deal. But I noticed that everyone’s advice, style, and instruction was different. Sometimes they even contradicted each other. So, I thought, why not get a bunch of fabulous authors together to give their own advice on a variety of writing topics and put it in one book? A one-stop shop for the best advice out there on writing!”
Janet: Great idea. Beginning writers sometimes try to take everyone’s advice, even when it doesn’t work for them. Ten authors… how did you connect for this project?
Michelle: Once again, MaryLu to the rescue. . .
“Gathering up authors was much like herding and leading cats, but so worth the effort. I wanted to get a variety of authors—some successfully published in the traditional market, some who’d made a success as Independent authors, some who did both, some with name-recognition, some without a whole lot, but ALL great writers who had won awards or been on best-selling lists. Those were my criteria, so I went about sending out recruitment emails! Surprisingly nearly everyone I contacted was excited to be a part of this book.”
Janet: You’re from different locations (all US?) and you write in various genres. How did that shape and enrich the project? Did it add any challenges? And do you have any funny, or maybe frustrating, stories of working together? Something other writers considering collaborations might need to know?
Michelle: Yet again, I defer to the wonderful MaryLu . . .
“Working with nine other people is never easy, but I was fairly surprised at how great this group got along, how quickly we came up with the topics we wanted to cover and who wanted to write which ones. We divided up the tasks we needed to accomplish—writing, editing, formatting, printing, cover design, marketing, etc—and then set a timeline. I have to say, everyone has been wonderful to work with, everyone got their chapters done on time, and everyone is contributing to the final product. Truly a miracle has occurred!”
Janet: You’re all Christian writers. Is Writing from the Trenches exclusively for Christians, or would a non-Christian writer find good take-away too?
Michelle: There’s honestly no way to extract who we are from what we write. But that being said, this is not an overtly Christian book. It’s a how-to, nuts and bolts sort of book. Any writer will benefit from all the collected wisdom, no matter their religion.
Janet: Before Writing from the Trenches, what book(s) on the craft most impacted you?
Michelle: Yikes! That’s a tough one because there are so many good ones out there. I’d have to say Self-Editing For Fiction Writers by Renni Brown & Dave King made a big impact on my writing, really explaining the difference between showing and telling. Also, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott really spoke to my angst as a writer and freed me from a lot of writerly fears.
Janet: Classic books for writers! Thanks for chatting, Michelle. All the best with the new book, and with your fiction as well. How can we find copies of Writing from the Trenches?
Michelle: You can snatch up your copy HERE AT AMAZON. And here’s a blurb about the book:
TEN-HUT! Gear up for your writing with tried-and-true tips from the trenches. Ten award-winning authors share invaluable tips and secrets they’ve gleaned the hard way, offering a broad range of insights and opinions on the best way to tackle tricky subjects on everything from characterization to plotting to marketing.
At last … a writer’s tool that provides the experience and expertise of ten authors who’ve been on the front lines of publishing and lived to teach about it: Connie Almony, Lynnette Bonner, Hallee Bridgeman, Louise Gouge, Michelle Griep, Julie Lessman, Elizabeth Ludwig, Ane Mulligan, MaryLu Tyndall, and Erica Vetsch.
Thanks to author Sara L. Foust for including me in her Spring Suspense interview series. Why do I write suspense? What’s my favourite movie? Click over to Sara’s site and say hi: Interview with Janet Sketchley.
I had a fun chat with author Lynn A. Davidson at her blog, Polilla Writes, and one commenter will win a copy of one of my suspense novels (their choice). It’s a print book if they’re in continental North America, or an ebook if they live anywhere else.
Pop over and check it out: click here. (Giveaway ends Nov. 30, 2017, but the interview will stay online.)