Faith, hope, & heartwarming

Living, loving, learning to trust God- and writing about it!


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CARA TALBOT ~ A Few of Believe in Me’s Heroine’s Favorite Things

Autumn Macarthur:

Cara finds time to fire off a few quick answers on Foreign Affaire!

Originally posted on Foreign Affaire:

Believe In Me Autumn Macarthur

Can this surprising Santa allow love to deepen his untested faith and learn to commit, while helping Ms Scrooge believe in Christmas, and in God, once more?

Cara, so glad that you found the time to make it today to Foreign Affaire.

Thank you for having me back. Will this take long?

I don’t think so, Cara. I’ll talk fast. Tell us what your preferences are:

Light or Dark chocolate:Cadbury’s Dairy Milk

Water or Fizzy drink: Plain water. It’s cheaper. Why pay good money for bubbles?

Tea or Coffee: Coffee, for sure. I need my caffeine kick-start

Fuzzy socks or Tube socks: Fuzzy socks. I’m a stay-at-home girl.

Sun or Snow:  I used to love snow, but now it makes me sad. Too many bad memories around winter. Anyway, we hardly ever get real snow in London, just horrible icy slushy sleet.

Bath or Shower: Shower. Quicker…

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CARA TALBOT ~ Strung Out and Stressed Heroine of Believe in Me

Autumn Macarthur:

Cara, the overworked heroine of Believe in Me, is interviewed at Foreign Affaire today. If the poor girl can make the time, that is!

Originally posted on Foreign Affaire:

Believe In Me Autumn Macarthur

Can this surprising Santa allow love to deepen his untested faith and learn to commit, while helping Ms Scrooge believe in Christmas, and in God, once more?

Cara, welcome to Foreign Affaire. Nick Gallagher has told us a little about you, but we’d like to hear from you. Tell us your name and a little bit about yourself? Where were you born? Where have you spent your life?

My name is Cara Talbot, I’m 27, and I work as assistant deputy manager at Pettett and Mayfield’s department store in central London. Just a glorified accountant really, and someone for the store owner to blame when things go wrong.

I’m not sure anyone will be interested in where I grew up or any of these questions, do I have to answer them? I have work to do, you know. The store’s finances are in a terrible state, and I…

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NICK GALLAGHER ~ A Few of our Fun Hero’s Favorite Things

Autumn Macarthur:

Nick, hero of Believe in Me, back again talking about himself! Actors, huh! But he IS adorable!

Originally posted on Foreign Affaire:

Believe In Me Autumn Macarthur

Can this surprising Santa allow love to deepen his untested faith and learn to commit, while helping Ms Scrooge believe in Christmas, and in God, once more?

Nick, welcome back to Foreign Affaire. We are certainly eager to find out more things about you, especially your favorite things.

So, first off, what’s your favorite thing to eat and drink?

So much great food, I couldn’t choose. L.A. is FULL of amazing places to eat. I love pizza, good Italian, and Thai. Anything that tastes real, with strong flavor and lots of vegetables and color. One thing about England that’s not so great, the food tends to be drab and overcooked.

You’re making me hungry! Tell us what’s your favorite saying?

Life’s too short to worry, trust God instead.

Absolutely true, Nick. What’s your favorite book and why?

The Bible, because it’s all in there, everything we need to…

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NICK GALLAGHER ~ Fun and Entertaining Hero of Believe in Me

Autumn Macarthur:

Nick, the American Santa actor with a mission to save a London department store and make Ms Scrooge accountant Cara smile again (and have some fun dates in the process!) is interviewed on Foreign Affaire today. All comments go in the draw for a two ebook bundle!

Originally posted on Foreign Affaire:

Believe In Me Autumn Macarthur

Can this surprising Santa allow love to deepen his untested faith and learn to commit, while helping Ms Scrooge believe in Christmas, and in God, once more?

This week we’re going to get to know actor, Nick Gallagher, and Pettett and Mayfield’s Assistant Deputy Store Manager, Cara Talbot.

Nick, welcome to Foreign Affaire. We’re excited to have you here today and look forward to learning more about you. Tell us your name and a little bit about yourself? Where were you born? Where have you spent your life?

Thank you for having me today. It’s good to be here. I’m Nick Gallagher, an actor from L.A. I was born in Oregon, but Dad moved around a lot when he was called to different churches. We moved to L.A. to be nearer Hollywood when I broke into acting in my teens, and my whole family—Mom, Dad, and my twin little…

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TEN REASONS TO LOVE LONDON ~ Setting for Love In Store series

Autumn Macarthur:

Why I love London, the setting for my Love in Store series. Comment on the original post at Foreign Affaire to go in the draw for a two ebook bundle.

Originally posted on Foreign Affaire:

by Autumn Macarthur

reasons to love london

Dr Johnson said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life,” back in 1777. Not a lot has changed since then.

London, the setting for the Love In Store series, is almost a character in its own right. I’ve loved the city since I arrived from Sydney for a year’s working holiday in 1996 and walked around entranced for the first three days, wide eyed and jetlagged, shaking my head in disbelief and thinking “I’m in London!”

All these years later, I’m still here!

Many of the characters in the Love In Store series are London born-and-bred, others are visitors to London who fall in love with the city as well as discover the love of their lives.

Ten reasons I love London (and the Love In Store characters do too):

1. It’s beautC.M.Friese via Flickriful!

The first time I flew into London, the…

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New blog and new newsletter sign-up!

Thank you so much for visiting or subscribing to my blog!

New website- Faith, Hope, & Heartwarming

This will be the last post on this site, as I’m moving to my new self-hosted website Faith, Hope, & Heartwarming. Please visit me there!

New newsletter subscription

Please also sign up for my email newsletter, so you’ll be among the first to know about new releases, as well as getting access to exclusive subscriber-only “behind the book” content and contests!

Newsletters will be no more than one every couple of weeks at most, and I promise no spam, ever. I will never sell or pass on your email to anyone else.

New books- the Love In Store series!

I have plenty of exciting news to come, with four releases in my London set Love in Store contemporary inspirational romance series planned over the next six months!

Inspirational romance book cover- The Wedding List by Autumn Macarthur


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Finding God’s work

For all my intent to blog regularly, I haven’t done so well! No post for weeks, or is it months?

There’s been a lot happening.

Getting to Round 3 of Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense Killer Voices, but not to the final round (congratulations to the lovely newly fledged authors who have already sold from the contest, Dana Lynn, Tammy Johnson, and Michelle Karl!).

Getting a revision request on my beloved Love Inspired submission, His Father’s Son.

A seriously ill mother-in-law who needed attentive nursing care, now thankfully fully recovered.

A holiday in Bulgaria, in the lovely village we hope to move to one day, God willing.

Working on my self-publishing plans, designing covers for the Love In Store series, planning a prequel novella, arranging editing, reading all I can on author branding and marketing. Yep, back to front, I have the cover and the marketing plan before I’ve written one of the stories! Though it does make sense with the covers. So hard finding stock images to suit my idea of how the couple looks AFTER the story is written. Finding a cover image I love first means I can use that to help me visualise the couple as I write their story, instead of using images of actors and actresses then finding NO stock images look even vaguely like them!

But the branding. Oh my, the branding! It makes me feel something like a can of baked beans or soft drink. It’s the reason I haven’t blogged for a while, because I know I need to start a new self-hosted website, and I was getting myself in a tangle about what I was “supposed” to say.

Then in my quiet time today, I realised what I’m “supposed” to do is just be myself. My author brand is who I am. What my stories are about. Where my focus is. What the work is that God’s given me to do.

He made it very clear to me over a year ago, when I was about to publish a very secular story, that His will was that I write for him. I’ve worked so hard, been so focused. maybe too focused. At times, I’ve put writing ahead of my husband.

Obedience fail!

Today, what God showed me is that Love truly is His work. Love is the work He really has for me to do in this world, the stories are a by-product. I need to come from a heart full of love first.

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. (I Corinthians 13:1-3, The Message)

 

Love is the work I need to do. The hard sometimes painful job of truly loving those closest to me.

But I have help.  If I let it, God’s love will fill me, flowing like a stream.

Love. Encouragement. Hope. That’s what I want my brand to be. That’s what I want my life to be. That’s what my blog needs to reflect. That’s what my stories need to reflect. This is who I want to be.

Image of ocean at sunrise, text Frist we were loved, now we love. He loved us first. 1 John 4:19, The Message, autumnmacarthur


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On finding the joy, right where I am

So things haven’t run quite the way I hoped the last couple of weeks, and my faith has wavered. From caring for sick family members to plans that have come unstuck, it’s been one of those times when it’s easy to get tempted by doubt.

My problem is, when I get stressed, the first thing I do is close off to God. I even get angry, blame Him that things are going wrong. I can’t feel His presence of His love, because my doubt and fear and anger puts a wall between us.

But this morning, God gave me a lovely gift in my inbox, a devotional from Girlfriends in God on Strength For The Storm, based on this verse-

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us–they help us learn to endure. (Romans 5:3-5, NLT).

The truth is, God never promised an easy life. He never promised that we wouldn’t have trials.  What He did promise was He will be with us in the midst of it. He promised that whatever happens is for our greatest good. Thank You for that.

So I can trust that He will guide me and support me, and all I need to do is stay open to that.  If I ask, He’ll help me to keep my eyes and heart on Him no matter what is happening. He’ll help me to stay focused on what really matters, not what I think matters. He’ll help me to see all that’s right in my life, all the blessings that surround me, when all I can see is what’s gone wrong.

I know He’s teaching me patience and endurance, lessons I wouldn’t learn if He gave me the easy life I wish for. And I can find joy in that. I can find joy in all that is good in my life.

There’s a lot!

When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (James 1:2-4, NLT)

Image of sunset over mountains with text "God is with us in the midst of every trial"


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Self-publishing Journal – Part 2

Woman reading Kindle, to illustrate inspirational romance writer Autumn Macarthur's self-publsihing journal

A rushed post today because I’ve been lucky enough to progress to round 3 in Harlequin’s Killer Voices contest for Love Inspired Suspense, which means I need to finish my partial by tonight for my wonderful writing mentor Laurie Sanders to read.

That probably should really be step one – learn how to write as well as I can. Use books. Use workshops. Use critique partners. Use any and all opportunities to become a better writer. And give back whenever I can.

My first steps to self-publishing

Other writers may choose a different order and skip some of these steps, but here’s what I’ve done so far:

Self-publishing for first-timers #1 – Decide to go for it!

First, make the decision.

I talked a lot about this in Part 1 of my self-publishing journal. Being clear about the process and what one hopes to get out of it is essential. Weighing up the pros and cons. Looking at expectations and being clear on what is and isn’t realistic. Sure, I might sell a gazillion copies and film rights and become rich and famous. Or sales might tank at 75 copies. Guess which of those is most likely? :)

That’s the main reason I want to do this on the tightest budget I can. If I sell no copies and am heartbroken, at least I won’t be also heartbroken about the shedload of money I spent! If the story does well, I can always use some of the money from the sales to get better covers and spiffy things up more.

Self-publishing for first-timers #2 – Don’t diss traditional publishing

Second, don’t burn any bridges behind you, especially if you still want to traditionally publish other stories.

Stay professional.

Letting the Heartsong editor know I wouldn’t be resubmitting Believe In Me was scary, but something I needed to do before anything else. I didn’t want my decision for this story and any linked stories to damage my chances of having other stories published by Harlequin.

I’m not deciding to self-publish because I don’t like the line. It’s lovely.

I’m not deciding to self-publish because I don’t like the editor. She’s wonderful.

I’m not choosing to self-publish because I am anti traditional publishing. I most definitely want see other stories traditionally published.

I’m choosing to self-publish because I don’t think this story fits anywhere else, without huge changes that turn it into a whole different story.

So hard though it was, I had to do the professional thing and email her to tell her what I’d decided and why.

The outcome had to be a God thing!

I’d been frightened that telling an editor I wouldn’t be resubmitting a story because I’d decided to self-publish would be shooting myself in the foot, wrecking any hope of submitting there again. I only did it because I knew NOT saying anything would do more damage.

Instead, I was blessed with a good email conversation, and was able to get some pointers about which of my other story ideas, more suitable for the line, she’d be interested in.

Self-publishing for first-timers #3 – How, when, where will I publish?

Three, decide where and when to publish.

Though I’d love the feel of a paperback book in my hands, I don’t have the time, expertise, or money to arrange that for Believe In Me at this stage, so it’s e-book only. I researched e-book options last year when I almost self-published a story I’m very glad now I didn’t! Kindle is the biggest market, and I can upload books to all the Amazon sites myself. The easiest way for me to access most of the other e-book markets is via Smashwords. They can distribute my books to smaller but growing markets like Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo and the Diesel eBook Store, which can be tricky for non-US based writers to access directly.

When to release is affected by the fact it’s a seasonal story. Christmas books usually come out in October, certainly no later than early November. I still need to decide a definite release date, but I’m thinking mid-October.

Self-publishing for first-timers #4 – Polish the story

Fourth, get the story as good as it can be. I know some self-published writers skip getting an external editor, relying on beta readers, but despite my tight budget and having a couple of excellent beta readers, I want to do all I can to make the story shine. Joanna Penn lists not getting professional edits as one of the biggest self-publishing mistakes. Arranging freelance editing, both developmental and line edits had to be the next step.

Good editors need to be booked well in advance.  If I didn’t set up an editor now, I might not get the story edited in time.

Luckily, the editor I’ve been doing workshops with decided to open up some slots for freelance editing. Laurie doesn’t publish inspirational romance, in fact her publishing house mainly does erotic romance! But I know she has a great instinct for story, I’ve worked continuously with her across a series of workshops over the past nine months and seen how much my writing has developed. Most important, I trust her judgment.

It also helps to know she’ll give great value for the fee she charges!

So I’ve booked her to do developmental and line edits on Believe In Me in early August. That gives enough time to do more revisions and have my eagle eyed beta readers go over it again for me before release date.

 Self-publishing for first-timers #5 – Cover Design

Next thing I did this week was look at cover design. Readers really do judge books by their covers.

I had a strong idea about what I wanted. Back in December when I thought the story would be rejected, leaving me little choice but to self-publish, I thought about designs and looked for free or low cost stock images I could use. I even identified a graphic designer on one of the sites I wanted to ask to do the design. So first thing was to contact her via the stock photo site and ask if she’d consider doing commission work. Unfortunately, she replied that she only did it as a hobby and didn’t want to take a commission.

So I looked around at other cover designers. My issue here is keeping costs down. Good designers aren’t cheap, and most of the cheap cover designs I’ve seen don’t look much better than what I could do myself. I decided to commission someone whose samples looked good on a budget design site, Fiverr.

I’m so glad it was budget! My beta reading friend joked that for that price, I’d probably get something that looked like her twelve year old had cut and pasted it.

Unfortunately, it did. Cover design may be an area where you really do get what you pay for. As I really don’t want to part with too much cash, that means paying with time.

Back to DIY. I’ve been bookmarking covers I like and working out what makes them work. Checking Joel Friedlander’s monthly ebook Cover Design Awards.

I’m not a designer. I have NO skills with software like Photoshop, and wouldn’t pay for that anyway. I’m reluctant to take on the learning curve for free image editing tools like GIMP, unless I really have to.

But it should be possible to make reasonable covers using software most of us already have. This week, I read tutorials for DIY book covers, including this one using Word. I joined some stock photo sites, and discovered what a massive time suck they can be! I’ve found loads of lovely images, including some that triggered new story ideas, but none that feel right for this book. I downloaded some free fonts so I had more choices than what comes with Word.

I played around with what I had, some free images, a free font, and came up with a cover design that isn’t good, but isn’t quite terrible either. It’s not anywhere near what I want yet, but it’s better than the one I paid for!

Luckily, I have a few more months yet before I need to settle on the final design. I can see a lot more hours need to go into the cover, if I want to DIY it.

But I can’t leave it too long for the cover, because I need to consider promo. Which is a whole other big topic I really don’t want to have to think about yet, so I’m going back to writing my Killer Voices entry instead!

Advice please!

Does anyone who’s already done it or is learning to do this have any advice for covers? Or promotion that doesn’t annoy everyone with endless Twitter spam? These are the two things that scare me the most, and I know are most important to get right, after writing a good story!

 

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