Blog Tour – Why I Write

July 29th, 2014

When Jessica Schaub invited me to be a part of Blog Tour — Why I Write, I jumped at the chance. It’s only three questions, questions authors are asked again and again, but they are three questions that reveal a lot about the person behind the words. So here are my answers to those three important questions:

What am I working on?

I just finished my second Bible study, Trust God! No Matter What…, and have returned to finish final edits on Master Cat (the third in Toby the cat’s tale). If you haven’t had the opportunity to read Apprentice Cat or Journeyman Cat, be sure to check them out. Master Cat picks up where Journeyman Cat left off and finishes up the story arc. Not to worry, though, there are plenty more Toby and Lorn stories to come.

Here is the description of Master Cat:

Toby, a magical talking cat, has cut ties with the Office of Kingdom Guardianship, intent on finding his long-lost father and avenging his mother’s murder. He thought he left everyone behind, but someone from his past is stalking him. Now he must avoid this strange new menace while he seeks the truth about his family’s dark history, a history that threatens to unravel his sanity and cause the rest of the world to descend into madness. Can Toby reconcile himself with the past or will his inner turmoil allow his enemy to plunge humanity into chaos once and for all?

Check back next month to cast your vote for the Master Cat cover and be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter to be first to find out when Master Cat is available.

Why I Write what I do?

That’s a good question. I’ve been a story-teller since I was a child. When I learned to write, I couldn’t get enough of stringing words together to create stories from the wild imaginings going on in my head. I even self-published two short stories when I was nine  (basically I used brads to hold the sheets together between two pieces of construction paper with a pasted on cover I drew myself). I begged my English teachers to read them and they seemed to like them. I wish I could say I got an A on every story I ever wrote in school, but that’s not true. Still, it was the enjoyment of writing that was the pull, not the grade.

For a short time, I put writing on a shelf and worked in ministry, even working on a Masters of Divinity. It was during that stressful time in grad school that I discovered I wasn’t meant to be a minister in a church setting. My ministry was writing. Through that medium, I can be a tool for God to reach people, to share God’s love and caring. I left school one semester shy of graduating to pursue my career as an independent author and haven’t looked back since.

Today, my mission is to aid others in developing a closer relationship with God, to see that God is more than a wrath-filled judge or a magic genie. That is why I write.

What is my writing process?

At first I tried to cram everything into whatever free time I could carve out for myself. That’s a recipe for frustration and procrastination. After my eldest was born, I tried squeezing it all in a scheduled hour or two before spending time with my husband just before we went to bed. That led to being over-tired and cranky.

After my daughter started half-day’s in preschool, I was able to get four solid hours of work done before I had to go to my day job. This, so far, has worked best, especially since I pretend that I’m going to a regular 9 to 5 job as soon as I walk in my front door after dropping her at school. On my days off from my day job, I spend the mornings doing the highest priority work, like drafting or editing the next book, and the afternoons on more business tasks, like marketing and administrative tasks, and research.

The next step I took was purchasing a Galaxy Tab 10.2 in 2012 with a bluetooth keyboard. That has been the best business purchase I’ve made to date. I can now extend my writing time to the afternoons at my day job and kill the down time between customers with some massive productivity. In fact that’s what helped me win the 2012 and 2013 NaNoWriMo. Combined with my smartphone, I can work on both writing and business anywhere, anytime.

As for the actual drafting of any of my books, it wasn’t until I read James Scott Bell Plot & Structure and Conflict & Suspense that I really got the hang of it and the process got faster. I’m a plotter by nature, so Bell’s various ways of plotting made getting my ideas down so much quicker and efficient. And while the old adage “chase your character up a tree and throw rocks at him” might be one way of creating suspense and conflict, it just didn’t make sense to me. It wasn’t logical. When I read Bell’s Conflict & Suspense the “ah-ha” moment arrived with a giant Acme lightbulb. It’s not just throwing your character into challenging situations; it’s about finding the tension point — the “what’s the worst that could happen” moment — and then building the next scenes from that. I highly recommend both these books to anyone wanting to stuff some more tools in their writer’s toolbox.

Who is up next on the tour?

Call me an overachiever, but I found three terrific ladies you’ll want to meet. They are: Kathy Jones, Jansina Grossman and Beckie Laux Carlson. Be sure to stop by their web sites to find out more.

A Mission, A Dream, And A Cat – My Interview With Jessica Schaub

July 9th, 2014

A couple weeks ago I was interviewed by Jessica Schaub. It was such a great experience, getting to let readers know about the behind the scenes work I do with my books and what my driving passion for writing is, that I wanted to share an excerpt here. To read the entire post, scroll down and click the read more link.

A Mission, A Dream, and a Cat – Meet Virginia Ripple

Over the last several months, and for months to come, I’ve been interviewing authors who have self-published their work or have published through small publishing houses. From each, I’m amazed by the mission behind each book and the hopes of the author to share a theme. I have learned something valuable from each – and the trend continues this week with Virginia Ripple.

If you are a fan of fantasy and also appreciate authors who include their faith, then Virginia’s books are certainly for you!

2Apprentice Cat Toby with mysterious eyes

1. In your biography on your website, you shared something that really struck home – While working part-time as a Religious Education Director and writing the other half “the teeter totter of passions unbalanced” your life and you found yourself writing less. Many people reading this will find encouragement that they are not alone in feeling frustrated with not having enough time to write. What changes have you made to your life-style, your career, and your passions that open up the 24 hours to more writing time?

I learned a lot during my time in ministry about what it means to be Called into God’s service. Sometimes others see our hard work and think, “Wow! She really has a heart for (fill in the blank). She should do it full-time.” If we’re not aware of what our true purpose is, then we might go along with their well-meaning suggestion and then suffer because we’re not doing what God planned for us to do. It took me the better part of seven years to figure that out and another four years to understand what doing my particular ministry meant in terms of what I spent time on.

Click here to read more.

Guest Post by Brian Holers

March 7th, 2012

Today I’m excited to bring you this guest post by Brian Holers, author of the literary novel, Doxology via Novel Publicity. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including $450 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

 

Not just for Christians

One of the beauties of self-publishing is that the gatekeeper has been fired. In this new world of books made possible by the Internet, no one is left to guard the door. To tell the reader what is what. This state of affairs may introduce an element of confusion for dogmatic readers, but the good news is, new breeds of literature are being created.

Self-publishing allows literature to cross over in new ways. Traditional Christian fiction publishers, for instance, disallow most references to sex, and even the most juvenile profanity. Self-publishing changes this. Not to suggest a writer should ever debase a genre—as writers we are obliged to choose our words carefully. But the old Christian books kept many readers away. “I’m not going to read that. That’s Christian. It’s boring.” Still, nearly every Christian I know periodically swears, fights, and even becomes amorous from time to time. Christians like good stories too, with depth of character, excitement, whimsy, action. The success of a book like The Shack shows the need for stories of real people dealing with real problems, in a faith-based context. It doesn’t even have to be good literature.

As humans, we all look for answers. Stories are stories. Conflict builds to crisis, which leads to a form of resolution. Sure, some people never doubt their faiths, even in the face of horrible tragedy. Others do. Some never ascribed to a faith in the first place, and instead spend their days casting about for a context to this condition we call humanness. The problem with much traditional Christian literature is this; when a character is pushed to a crisis, and the only change we read is “he fell on his knees, then and there, and accepted Jesus into his heart,” that incident may describe a beautiful sentiment, and may have value to a real person in real life, but as a reader, it doesn’t tell me anything. A reader wants details. He wants to see the sweat break out. She wants to hear the thoughts and words that accompany the character’s condition. Literature is literature. We want to see development. We want to get inside the characters. We want to get to know them. That’s why we care. Regardless of the genre label put on the book.

Doxology is a story in between. The book has a religious message; given its primary setting in rural north Louisiana, that message is Christian. But the characters are just people. They experience the same emotions all people do—love, joy, loss. Their conflicts grow and grow until they must be resolved. Like real people, they go astray, take paths of separation from God, or just from what is good for them. They experience desires that can never be fulfilled, want things that can never be had or even understood. They discover the traits in their lives that aren’t working, and set out to find new habits that will work. Many Christian values are universal—a belief, despite evidence to the contrary, that our lives are worthwhile. An understanding that letting go, and learning how little we are in charge, makes life more manageable. A certainty that the kindness and compassion we offer to others is returned to us a hundredfold.

Some say God. Some say the universe. But we all–when we’re honest, and when we pay attention, have a sense of something looking out for us, giving us what we need. Putting people we need into our lives. We give credit for these gifts as we see fit. Good literature promotes a point of view by showing the reader how a character’s modes of operation and beliefs work for her (or don’t). Good literature, whatever its genre, lets the reader inside. Lets the reader do part of the work. Doxology, in this vein, is a story at the crossroad of God and man. It presents God as the characters experience God, and as real people experience God, looking out for them, giving them what they need. Coming to understand how God has been there all along.

Doxology is a love story. Faith plays a role, as it helps the characters find answers and resolution, improves their lives. Like Jody and Vernon and the others, we all look for redemption from brokenness of the past. They and we find it, as people both real and imaginary alike do, in family, friends, productive work, a sense of place, a faith in something greater. Doxology is a story, first and foremost. Its characters face problems. Their conflicts grow. They look for resolutions and ultimately find them, imperfect as they are. We the readers get to know them, and we care. We sympathize. They matter.

 

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored byNovel Publicity, the price of the Doxology eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $450 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Purchase your copy of Doxology for just 99 cents
  2. Fill-out the simple form on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event

Help my blog win:

The tour blogger who receives the most votes in the traffic-breaker poll will win a $100 gift card. When you visit Novel Publicity’s site to fill-out the contest entry form, don’t forget to VOTE FOR ME.

About the book: Fathers, sons and brothers reconnect over tragedy in this blue-collar Southern tale of love, loss, and the healing power of community and family. Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

About the author: An arborist by day and a novelist in every moment he can steal, Brian makes up stories from the treetops. Visit Brian on his website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

5 Self-Publishing Lessons From A Toddler’s Perspective

July 23rd, 2011

It’s amazing, being a mother of a toddler, how much this little girl has taught me in just the 2 1/2 years she’s been with us. What’s even more amazing is that many of those lessons can be applied to self-publishing.

Lesson #1: Anything worth doing takes time. My daughter has been a little slow in using “big people” words, until recently. In fact, up until she turned 1 1/2, she would refuse to say words we knew she knew how to say. I can only guess the reason behind it was she wanted to be sure she could say it right before putting it out there for everyone to hear. In self-publishing,  throwing our work out to the general public before we’ve refined it to its best is a very bad decision. It’s bad for sales, bad for our reputation and bad for other self-publishers’ reputations. If we think it’s worth publishing, then we need to take the time to do it well.

Lesson #2: Learn to have patience, with yourself and those around you. Tiny Tot, as we affectionately call her, can throw some of the best tantrums when she doesn’t get what she wants when she wants it. However, she’s also learned that sometimes we just have to wait. We often hear her say “Patience!” as she reminds herself that it’ll be a short wait before she can have some ice cream or that toy she really wants. As a self-publisher, we want to make it all happen right now, but that’s not the way it works. It takes time to build a fan base, time to connect through social media. Everything takes time and that’s okay.

Lesson #3: Sometimes it helps to explain what you’re doing. Refilling a sippy cup of milk used to cause a melt-down. She was getting what she wanted, more milk, but she didn’t understand what had to happen to get it. Since we began explaining each step as we do it we’ve managed to avoid those tantrums. I’ve found gathering support for my self-publishing venture easier to gain when I explain exactly what it is I’m doing along the way.

Lesson #4: If you’re having a hard time making anything do what you want, take a nap (or at least a break). When my little girl starts throwing tantrums over the smallest things, like putting in a video instead of CD or vice versa, I know it’s time for some downtime be it a nap or just a drink and some quiet rocking time with Mama. I understand where she’s coming from because when I get tired and/or frustrated with a project I know it’s time for a break — or to go to bed when I’m burning the midnight oil. Coming back to a project refreshed means being able to look at it from other angles and maybe finding a solution I didn’t see before.

Lesson #5: You can do anything you set your mind to so long as you don’t believe you can’t. Tiny Tot has done some things I didn’t think she’d be able to. For example, at eleven months old she said her first complete sentence. She asked her Grandma, “Can I do that?”, meaning she wanted to help Grandma re-load the dishwasher. If her Grandma and one of her aunt’s hadn’t also heard her say it, I would have believed my mind was playing tricks on me. She didn’t know she wasn’t supposed to be able to do that, but she did it. Self-publishing can be like that. There are a lot of experts who say you can’t do better than break even by self-publishing; however there are people doing just that. In fact, it’s said that self-published fiction books (especially in eBook form) are the least likely to be purchased and yet Independent Authors like Joe Konrath are doing quite well. These people have been told they “can’t” do what they’re doing. They just don’t accept that they “can’t.”

I’m glad I’ve taken the time to get to know my little girl because she’s given me some wonderful tips. Listening to what my toddler teaches has made my life, and my self-publishing career, a richer experience.

What have you learned from your child(ren) — including the furry ones?

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If you’re interested in learning about prayer (what it is, why we do it, some ways to pray and how to know your prayer was answered), then check out my book Simply Prayer, available in print, for Kindle and NookAudio book version coming soon.

Hello world!

December 9th, 2010

Hello. My name is Virginia and I’m a recovering Minister…

Perhaps I should explain that a bit more. What that really means is that I was only a year away from receiving my Masters of Divinity and becoming Reverend Ripple (now there’s a name for you :P) when institutional politics made me re-think my career choice. During my third — and last — year in seminary I rediscovered my passion for writing. It became my safe haven during turbulent times.

Since then I’ve learned a great many things about writing, book design, self-publishing and — oh yeah! — living by faith. I’m still very much human, so God’s been slowly (at times very slowly) shaping me into whatever it is God wants me to be. That brings me to what I plan to do with this blog.

Like my other blog, The Road to Writing, I’ll be posting weekly. Beyond that I admit, I don’t have a solid plan, but that’s nothing unusual when one lives by faith. Just the same, I want this to be a place for renewal of Spirit, a place you may discover God in a new and unexpected way. I plan to cover topics such as meditation and prayer, as well as topics on speculative Christian fiction, specifically fantasy. That may seem widely diverse, but I think it never hurts our spirits to indulge in a little relaxing escapism once in a while. 🙂

I’m looking forward to all the wonderful new insights God has in store for us.