Interview with Author Toni Shiloh

For my Summer Spotlight Series today, I have Toni Shiloh.

Toni Shiloh Headshot imageToni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and president of the Virginia Chapter.

You can find her on her website at http://tonishiloh.weebly.com

 

Toni’s newest novel, Finding Love, released yesterday on Amazon! Finding Love cover image

Delaney Jones has finally started to pick up the pieces of her shattered life after the death of her husband, Parker. Just as life enters a new normal, in walks Army soldier, Luke Robinson. Just when she makes the decision to trust him, life deals her a heavy blow.

Sergeant First Class Luke Robinson can’t get over his part in the death of Delaney’s husband. In hopes to assuage his guilt, he offers to lend a hand. Only, he never counted on the feelings she evokes with just a smile. Will his secrets widen the gulf or will he finally find absolution?

 

I asked Toni a few questions about her writing and her life.

What is your favorite part about being an author? I don’t know, it changes! I love interacting with readers and hearing how the books inspired them. I love seeing the cover and getting that book in hand. Of course, I love writing it. That first page and the last are probably the best. Of course, there are middle parts that tug at me, depending on the story and character.

Where do you find inspiration? In everything! Most often it’s music. I’ll hear a song, listen to the words and my brain just takes off from there. I’ve also been inspired by Scripture. Unfortunately, there’s just not enough time for me to write every thought that makes me want to write a new story. Instead, I keep a list of my ideas. Usually the characters with the loudest voices get their turn first.

Do you have a favorite author or genre you like to read? I read in almost every Christian fiction genre there is. I have a few favorites from each. Some in romance: Jennifer Rodewald, Becky Wade, and Sarah Monzon. Suspense: Ronie Kendig, Lynette Eason, and Irene Hannon. Historical: Pepper Basham and Dawn Crandall. Spec and all others: Nandine Brandes and J. Rodes. If my favorite author writes in another genre, I’ll follow them there too.

Which character from your current book can you most relate to? And why? Oh man, what a great question! Let me think for a moment….

Delaney. She lets fear imprison her and keep her from living a fuller life. I’ve been down that road before. Like her I had to learn to trust God. He’ll never put me on the wrong path.

What do you do in your leisure time? Read! That’s probably not surprising but I read a lot. I read less since I write full-time now, but I still average 150 books a year. I also play video games with my kiddos, dabble in jewelry making, and color when I need to relax the brain from all things.

Toni, thank you so much for appearing on my Summer Spotlight Series today. I hope you readers will check out her new book. You can connect with Toni here:

Social media links –      

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authortonishiloh

Google+: https://plus.google.com/+ToniShiloh

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/tonishiloh

Instagram: www.instagram.com/tonishiloh

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/tonishiloh

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/toni-shiloh

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tonishiloh

Blogs I’m part of: http://puttingonthenew.com  ; http://heartwingsblog.com  ; http://diversitybetweenthepages.wordpress.com ; www.acfwvirginia.com/blog

Don’t forget to check out my email newsletter! Next up on my Summer Spotlight will be Author Jennifer Dornbush, and if you sign up for my newsletter by July 1st you will receive free BONUS material from the interview! See you soon!

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Interview with Artist Becky Eileen

Today, for my Summer Spotlight Series I have Artist Becky Eileen. She is a wonderfully talented artist, who also happens to be my cousin and best friend.

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Becky Eileen has been creating art since she was a young child. Over the last six years, she has participated in numerous online courses to hone her craft and expand her experiences with a multitude of different medias. Her colored pencil drawing, “Wendy’s Cholla,” was chosen for publication in CP Hidden Treasures, Volume III by Ann Kullberg in 2016.  She is a member of the Colored Pencil Society of America (CPSA), and the CPSA District Chapter 224 in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.  She lives in Apine, TX with her husband Roger. When she isn’t creating new masterpieces, you can find her caring for their dog and four cats, practicing her photography skills, reading, spending time outdoors, hiking, and taking road trips with Roger to explore the Texas countryside.

How long have you been creating art?  Basically, for as long as I can remember. My first memories of art center around times spent with my Gramma when I was very young.  We would sit together on the floor with a notepad, and I would ask her to draw something, and then try to copy what she drew.  I had a couple of drawing lessons when I was around 6 years old, and a few oil painting lessons when I was 12.  I just remember that I always had a longing to draw.  My parents made sure I had a steady supply of graphite pencils and sketchbooks, but I would draw on any available surface.  I was always sketching horses and barns and cactus in the margins of my notebooks, and the edges of the church bulletin.

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Breezy’s Bad Hair Day

When did you first decide that you wanted to pursue art as a profession?  That has been a fairly recent decision for me, I would say in the last year or so, and I am still working out the details as far as which direction I want to take my artistic career and how best to pursue it.

How would you explain or categorize your style of art?  I guess I would have to say realism.  I love to create realistic drawings of just about any subject found in nature.  Although lately I have played around a bit with a more illustrative style with some quick little mixed media drawings that I refer to as “sketches.”  I have done a couple of cactus sketches recently, and I enjoy them for the break that they give from realism.  Working realistically with graphite or colored pencil can often take weeks to finish a drawing.  These sketches can be done in a couple of hours, using any media I want all mixed together, and are very fun and freeing.  I have also been dabbling with abstract art recently, and in fact, my current work in progress is slightly abstract.  I have enjoyed this little detour, but plan to stick mostly with realism in the future.

What is your favorite media to use, and why?  Pencils!  I love all kinds of pencils.  I work mostly in either graphite, or colored pencil, including water soluble colored pencils.  Graphite is my first love when it comes to art.  There is just something awesome about the stark contrast and level of detail an artist can achieve working only in black and white.  However, I discovered colored pencils several years ago, and became instantly hooked.  As a realistic artist, I love tiny, tedious details, and colored pencils allow me to get absorbed in every little detail of a drawing while creating a final result that looks like a painting.

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Baby Donkey

Do you use any other media in addition to pencils?  Yes, I am always open to trying something new, and like to dabble with other media.   I have been trying to learn how to use watercolor, and will occasionally use it in a background for a colored pencil piece, like my drawing “Texas Paintbrush”.  I also love to use it in mixed media pieces like my quick little sketches.  I also occasionally use acrylics, usually for things like hand painted ornaments, but I recently bought a set of artist grade acrylic paints, and plan to try my hand with them on a canvas in the near future.   Some other media that I enjoy playing with are Neocolor II, artist’s quality water soluble crayons; Gouache, a paint similar to watercolor, but more opaque; Micron pens, a black waterproof ink perfect for sketches; and India Ink and Acrylic Inks, these come in a bottle, and can be applied with dip pens or brushes.  I also occasionally use gel pens for highlights and accents on my sketches.

Texas Paintbrush FB CR

Texas Paintbrush

Do you have a favorite subject that you like to draw?  Animals, flowers, cacti, basically anything found in nature.

Where do you find inspiration for your drawings?  I love to spend time outdoors, and am inspired by nearly everything around me in nature.  Because I prefer to take my own reference photos, I have developed an interest in photography, which has led to my learning to be a better observer of the world around me. I am often inspired by the way the light or shadow is hitting a particular object, or the pattern on a moth’s wing, or the intricate veining in a leaf.  There is beauty all around us, and sometimes we can find inspiration in the most mundane of objects if we just slow down and observe the world around us.

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Sunset Pears

How long does it take to create a masterpiece?  There is no set answer to this question. It all really depends on several factors.  How big of a piece is it?  How intricate is the detail?  Which medium am I working in?  Every single drawing is going to take a different amount of time.

What is your personal favorite work that you’ve created?  Right now, I would have to say my favorite piece is my colored pencil drawing “Wendy’s Cholla”.

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Wendy’s Cholla

Who are your favorite artists?  I have always had an affinity for art depicting cowboys and the western lifestyle.  Two of my favorites from the time I was a child are Frederick Remington, and Charles Marion Russell.  I have also been an admirer of Jack Sorenson’s art for years.  I was admiring, and collecting his art on “Leanin’ Tree” greeting cards for years before I even realized who he was.  I also love the graphite work of artist Karmel Timmons.  Seeing her work in a horse magazine for the first time about seven or eight years ago is one of the things that inspired me to pick up a pencil and start drawing again after almost a 15-year hiatus.  I have the art of Mikel Donahue to credit for getting me started with colored pencils.  He has some phenomenal colored pencil pieces that look just like paintings.  I was amazed at the realism and detail he was able to achieve, and after seeing his work in a horse magazine, I ran out and bought my first set of colored pencils.

When you’re not creating art, what other types of activities do you enjoy?  I love spending time outdoors, going for long walks or hikes, or just hanging out in nature and exploring the woods and listening to the birds.  I am obsessed with taking pictures, although I am still very much a beginner when it comes to photography.  Reading has been a passion of mine since I was very young.  Nothing is quite as satisfying as losing yourself in a good story.

What are some of your future artistic goals?  Right now my biggest goal is to get my website set up and going.   Beyond that, I would like to be more involved in my local CPSA chapter, and I plan to start entering more drawings in competitions in the future.

Where can we find your art for sale?  You can purchase fine art prints on paper, canvas, or metal, and a range of gift items with my art on them, at my Fine Art America store at http://becky-eileen-eller.fineartamerica.com  .  Prints can also be purchased directly through my Facebook page by clicking the “Shop Now” button under the banner picture.  www.facebook.com/BeckyEileenArtist

Becky Eileen 6-2017

Do you have a website or social media accounts where we can follow you and keep up with what you’re doing next?  I am in the process of building my website now, but if you “like” me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BeckyEileenArtist  or follow me on Instagram at www.instagram.com/beckyeileen  you will be the first to know when my new website goes live!  Also, those are great ways to keep up with what I’m working on, and follow where this art journey leads me.

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Bright Sunshiny Day

Thank you Becky for being with me today! If you love Becky’s art like I do, please visit her sites listed above. I think you’ll agree with me her art is stunning!

 

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**Header Image: Pumpkin

Under this Same Sky, by Cynthia Roemer

Under This Same Sky cover image

 ~ She thought she’d lost everything ~ Instead she found what she needed most. ~
 
Illinois ~ 1854
 
Becky Hollister wants nothing more than to live out her days on the prairie, building a life for herself alongside her future husband. But when a tornado rips through her parents’ farm, killing her mother and sister, she must leave the only home she’s ever known and the man she’s begun to love to accompany her injured father to St. Louis.
 
Catapulted into a world of unknowns, Becky finds solace in corresponding with Matthew Brody, the handsome pastor back home. But when word comes that he is all but engaged to someone else, she must call upon her faith to decipher her future.

 

I finished Cynthia Roemer’s Under this Same Sky over the weekend. If you are looking for a sweet romance that also keeps you asking questions, you’ve found the right book. Becky Hollister’s life is turned upside-down when a tornado destroys her family’s farm, killing her mother and sister and injuring her father. 

Pastor Matthew Brody makes the rounds to check on his congregation and discovers Becky and her pa in need of serious assistance. He helps Becky rush her father to the doctor’s home.

Her pa’s injuries lead to his blindness and he makes the decision to attend a school for the blind far away from their prairie home–without Becky.

Becky is heartbroken and wants nothing more than to be with her only remaining immediate family. She hatches a plan to stowaway in the wagon Pastor Brody will drive Pa to St. Louis in. On the way–after Pastor Brody and her father discover her presence and decide to allow her to stay–Becky’s admiration for Matthew begins to develop into affection. 

But the next year will be spent hundreds of miles apart. Can their budding love survive the distance? And the rearrival of Matthew’s old sweetheart back home? Can Becky find the faith she needs to accept her family’s tragedy?

Elegant, just-right descriptions, strong emotion, and growing faith lines make this book worthy of your must-read list. 

I asked Cynthia a couple questions after I finished reading. I hope you’ll enjoy her responses as much as I did.

What was your favorite scene to write and why?
Oh, several scenes come to mind. I had fun with the somewhat humorous exchanges between Matthew and his old sweetheart, Sarah Prescott. I also enjoyed the scene in which Becky helps reunite young Emily with her brother. But my favorite scenes to write would have to be the final scenes with the happily-ever-after ending. It took over 300 pages to get to those oh-so-satisfying final scenes where love and faith triumph. Such fun!
Becky was my favorite character. I fell in love with her quiet, shy nature. Who was your favorite character?
I’m so glad you connected with Becky. I enjoyed stepping into her character.  I also enjoyed the housemaid Nettie. She was so much fun to create. But I think my favorite character would be Jimmy (named for one of my favorite actors, Jimmy Stewart BTW.) Jimmy had such keen insight and wisdom into life. As one of my Amazon reviewers said, “He was the perfect friend for Becky.” I loved his faith and the way he spoke to Becky’s heart.
If you would like to learn more about Cynthia consider visiting her social media pages listed below. And, most importantly, if you’d like to read Under this Same Sky (and enjoy it as much as I did), please click here.

AUTHOR BIO:Cynthia Roemer Headshot image

 
Cynthia Roemer is an award-winning inspirational writer who enjoys planting seeds of hope into the lives of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the 1800s prairie. She writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband and their two college-aged sons.
Thank you, Cynthia, for appearing on my blog! I hope you readers will check back next week for an interview with Artist Becky Eileen. And don’t forget to sign up for my email friends group for bonus materials and early access to my next interview!