Welcome Robin Helm

Please give a warm welcome to Robin.  Robin Helm has published the first two volumes of a trilogy (The Guardian Trilogy), Guardian and SoulFire, and is presently writing Legacy, the third and final volume, posting as a work in progress on four different forums. She has also published two Regency short stories.
She and her husband have two daughters, the elder a Navy nurse stationed in Guam, and the younger a university senior. They live in South Carolina with their Yorkie-Poo, Tobey.
Ms. Helm graduated with a BA from Piedmont Baptist College. She is a member of the Delta Epsilon Chi honor society, the American Legion Auxiliary, and the scholarship faculty of the United States Achievement Academy.

Q: Welcome to my blog, Robin! Tell us a little bit about yourself. When did you start writing?
I have always loved to read. I was the baby in a family of six, and there was always plenty to do in the way of cleaning, cooking, gardening, and yard work. I remember hiding in a closet to read quite often, because if my mother saw me, she would immediately make me put down the book and get to work. I think I bought the house we live in because it has walk-in closets.
After twenty-five years of teaching, mainly high school English and music, I left full-time teaching to take three part-time jobs. I began to “beta,” or edit for other writers. Before that time, the idea of writing a book had been too daunting to me. A year ago, I was intimidated by the idea. Now, I have written and self-published two books in The Guardian Trilogy, Guardian and SoulFire, and I am nearly a third of the way through writing the third book in the series, Legacy.

Q: Tell us about your inspiration for: Guardian (Volume I) and SoulFire (Volume II), from The Guardian Trilogy. What is the true essence of these books?
I confess to being a TwiMom. As a high school English teacher, I wondered why my students would stay up all night reading the books of The Twilight Saga, but they would not read the classics. I read the books several times, and I tried to analyze their appeal. Edward, the protagonist, was a natural bad guy fighting his own nature to be good. He was willing to sacrifice his own desires for Bella, an average human girl, because he loved her. I decided to write the flip side of that – an angel, a being who is totally good, who must battle against his nature and be willing to take a lesser form to love Elizabeth, a supernaturally gifted human. Xander, my angel, wishes to become human to be with Elizabeth. He makes a tremendous sacrifice and accepts mortality, aging, and death in order to be able to love her without sinning.  In addition, he makes this choice not knowing whether or not she will love him in return. He loves her, and she does not know of his existence.
Just as Edward fights his enemies who wish to kill Bella in The Twilight Saga, Xander battles with demonic forces who are intent on destroying Elizabeth in The Guardian Trilogy. Lucifer knows that Xander, the Chief Guardian, would not have been assigned to guard Elizabeth had she not been extremely important in God’s plan, so he sets out to destroy her from the moment of her conception. The Guardian Trilogy delves into spiritual warfare, drawing aside the veil to allow the reader to see parallel dimensions: the physical and the spiritual. Readers are shown what happens around humans all the time without their knowledge as light forces battle dark ones.
On Fanfiction.net I have many crossover teen fans from Twilight, Harry Potter, and Airbender. I have been amazed by that. On that site, I have about two thousand readers from more than eighty countries. Nothing has surprised me as much as the warm reception the books have received from agnostics, atheists, and seekers.
Q: Have you always had an interest in spiritual warfare?  
Yes, I have. I always taught in religious schools, and assigned reading for my students included Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness, Piercing the Darkness, and The Oath, as well as Larry Burkett’s The Illuminati. Peretti made me think in a different way; his books showed me the spiritual dimension, and I was fascinated.Having said that, my angels, demons, and plot are very different from Peretti’s.
Q: Jane Austen has quite a devoted following - How has your story taken the beloved characters of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett, and brought a new perspective to their classic love story? What will Austen fans love most about The Guardian Trilogy?
The authors for whom I edited wrote Jane Austen fan fiction, and I had been reading the genre for several years before I began to beta. Jane Austen has long been my favorite author, and Pride and Prejudice is my favorite among her works. The Guardian Trilogy is very loosely related to Pride and Prejudice. Xander, the main character, uses the name Darcy when he assumes human form. Elizabeth is his love interest, born to David and Lynne Bennet. Though The Guardian Series does not closely follow Austen’s plot, the characters behave much as their Austen counterparts would in a modern, religious setting. For instance, Xander/Darcy is a protector, much like Austen’s Darcy protected Lydia, Elizabeth’s sister, as well as Elizabeth, by helping Lydia. He has a higher standing than Elizabeth, because he is an angel and she is human. As an angel, Xander is remote and free from strong emotions. He is distant, like Austen’s Darcy. Elizabeth does reject Darcy at one point, much the P & P Elizabeth and Darcy have their Hunsford debacle. Austen fans also require a happy ending for the couple, and they will have it.

Q: If you had to narrow it down to one thing, what would your readers find most enjoyable about your books?
One aspect of the books that has received much comment is the banter between the angels behind the scenes. I give them distinct personalities and some of them are quite humorous and witty.

Q: When will we see your next book in print and where can we find it?
I hope to publish Legacy in late April or early May. Like Guardian and SoulFire, it will be available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle, and on Nook and paperback through Barnes and Noble. For those with iPhones or iPads, downloading the Kindle application will give readers access to Kindle books.

Guardian begins with a prologue, the fall of Lucifer from heaven. The main body of the work concentrates on the years beginning just prior to Elizabeth’s conception in 1989 and ends in the fall of 2007 as she begins her junior year in college and Xander is summoned before God to make a momentous decision.

The powerful and imposing Xander/Darcy, Chief of all guardian angels, has protected exceptional humans from demonic forces over the course of ten millennia without losing a single battle. In 1989, he receives an unusual assignment which will forever change his ordered existence and alter the course of human history. Will he lose the battle for his own heart while guarding supernaturally gifted Elizabeth Bennet from the evil which surrounds her? Will he be strong enough to resist her as she grows from a precocious child into a beautiful, intelligent woman? The veil dividing the physical and spiritual planes is drawn aside to reveal warfare on an unprecedented scale as Elizabeth develops her gifts and her guardian discovers his emotions.

SoulFire, Volume II of the trilogy, continues the story, picking up January, 2008 and ending in August of the same year. Xander is in human form, using the name Fitzwilliam Darcy. SoulFire develops the actual meeting, ministry, and romance of Elizabeth and Darcy.

In the second volume of The Guardian Trilogy, Fitzwilliam Alexander Darcy, powerful Chief of all guardian angels, adjusts to life with a dual nature. An angel/human, Darcy seeks to win the love of his beautiful partner in SoulFire Ministries, Elizabeth Bennet, as they travel together across the globe. While keeping his true identity hidden, Darcy joins archangels Michael and Gabriel in defending and protecting Elizabeth from the schemes and trickery of Gregory, the Dark Prince, and Lucifer, his father.
Though the supernaturally gifted team of Darcy and Elizabeth is tremendously successful in their joint mission as they partner with evangelist Jonathan Edwards, the question remains, will Elizabeth find the strength within herself to forgive Darcy for his secrecy after she accidentally discovers the truth, that he was her guardian angel, or will Gregory be ultimately successful in separating this match made in heaven?

The Guardian Trilogy is a Christian fantasy fiction which loosely incorporates elements of Jane Austen’s masterpiece, Pride and Prejudice, into a Christian story line. Mrs. Helm is presently writing the third book in the series, Legacy.
Robin Helm taught school for twenty-five years in Florida and South Carolina - mainly high school English, music, and Bible. She now teaches elementary school music part-time for Discovery School in Lancaster, serves as Associate in Music and the Music Academy Director for Second Baptist Church, and teaches piano in the academy. Guardian is her first book, as well as the first book in The Darcy/Guardian Trilogy. The second in the series, SoulFire, is completed and should be self-published in December. She also "betas," or edits, for other authors.

She and her husband Larry have two grown daughters. One is currently serving as a nurse in the U.S. Navy in Guam, and the other is a senior at Anderson University majoring in Early Childhood/Elementary education.

Plotting for Pantsers - Meggan Connors

Welcome this morning Meggan Connors.  Please make her feel welcome!

I admit: I am a pantser.

My first novel—you know, the one hidden under the bed, or on the computer drive—was written entirely out of order. I wrote the beginning. Then I wrote a prologue. Then I wrote the end. In between, I was struggling to put together the middle. I didn't have to worry so much about the sagging middle, so much as simply having one.

My second book was written in much the same way. The plotting improved, but I wouldn't say it was perfect. I still had to go back and rewrite the whole book. At the time, I told myself it was because I write organically, and I do. But by the time I got to my third book, The Marker, I'd decided I needed to plot.

So I tried. I had character descriptions, motivations and back story all mapped out before I wrote a single word. I knew all the secondary characters, their motivations and their back stories. I had the entire story planned, complete with the conflict, the resolution, and everything that happened in between. Pages and pages of data, all of it compiled into neat little binders, every chapter carefully plotted before I'd written a single word of the actual book.

And then I got to work. I watched a blinking cursor for a long time. A long, long time.

What I realized about pantsers is that we have to allow the story to tell itself. Too much plotting ruined my story, because, in my head, the story had already been told. But just because I realized that plotting wasn't my thing doesn't mean that it isn't necessary. Plotting is good. It keeps us from derailing our story. Plotting keeps us from having to delete perfectly good chapters because now they don't fit.

So, here's what I've learned to do. I write, because I just write. Because I'm a pantser and I like to be surprised. But I also need to plot.

After I scrapped most of what I'd written about The Marker, I tried again. I kept the setting, I kept the characters, and I amended the plot. I wrote the first two chapters. Then I came up with a loose outline. A very loose outline.

It was nice. I had some elements that had to happen. That was it. How my characters got to these events was up to them. I had the organic feeling that I needed to get into a story, that feeling of excitement of not knowing. But I also felt like I had a vision for my story, that the words I was using weren't wasted. I knew I wouldn't have to go back and delete and rewrite 30,000 words of my 87,000-word document (which I've done before).

So there you have it. Writing can still be an organic process, even if you're a pantser attempting to plot. The loose outline works for me. I love having realized characters who can still surprise me, and I love having the flexibility to change them. I love seeing how they get over the hurdles I put in front of them.

At the same time, I like knowing in advance what those hurdles will be.

Sure, the loose outline thing may not work for everyone. It still means that, once I've finished the story, I will have to go back and look over the first half of the book and make sure that the beginning has characters and a setting that are as fully realized as the ending does.

But it also means that my characters have boundaries, and I, as their creator, do too. It helps maintain focus while keeping the story organic.

Because what's important is the story, not the process.

Are you a plotter or a pantser, and why? If you're a pantser, do you have any tricks to keep your characters in line? If a plotter, why and how do you plot?

Meggan Connors' debut novel, The Marker, was released in December of 2011 from Soul Mate Publishing. She would love to hear from readers, and can be found on Facebook and at http://www.megganconnors.com/.

Here's the blurb from my novel, The Marker. I hope you enjoy it!

When her father loses her in a poker game, Lexie Markland is sent to work in the household of Nicholas Wetherby for one year to pay off the debt. Innocent but not naïve, she is savvy enough to know she must maintain her distance from this man who frustrates her with his relentless teasing but whose kisses bring her to her knees. Because although she may be just another conquest to him, the marker he won at the card table, it’s not just her heart in jeopardy should she succumb to Nicholas’ considerable charms.
Since his brother’s death almost a year before, nothing has held Nicholas’ attention for long–not women, not booze, not even an excellent hand at cards. Nothing, that is, until he meets the woman he won in a drunken night of poker. Intrigued by his prize and her chilly reserve, he makes it his mission to crack Lexie’s cool demeanor. But even as passion explodes between them, the question remains: will Nicholas be able to take the ultimate risk… and gamble on love?

Blog Tour Schedule

As many of you may know by know, CRASHING HEARTS, was released January 1st via Whiskey Creek Press.  I am absolutely thrilled to have my debut novel finally out there.

To top off the excitement, I am in the midst of a blog tour to promote CRASHING HEARTS.  Please stop by on the following days if you have time.  Would love to see you stop by at any of the different blogs and leave a comment.

January 16th - Romance Book Paradise
January 18th - Kate O'Sullivan (excerpt)
January 24th - Black Velvet Seductions
January 31st - Her Story Calls
February 3rd - Heroines With Heart

Leave a comment here and you let me know where you will leave a comment on one of the above blog tour stops and you could win a signed print copy of CRASHING HEARTS.

Ebooks are available at Amazon or print copies can be ordered directly via paypal here for $12.00 each.

I look forward to seeing you around the above blogs.