Sunday, December 30, 2007
As we come to the last day of 2007, I find myself spending this Sunday afternoon thinking about 2007 and looking forward to 2008.
It's hard to believe it's already been eight years since we went into this new millennium. It seems like yesterday we were thinking about Y2K and some people were stockpiling hard cash and water. I was not one of them, but I knew people who were. I remember opening a friend's pantry and seeing gallon upon gallon of water filling the bottom shelf. She insisted I would be sorry when she had water and I didn't. Funny, I never heard a word of what happened to all that water. She probably spent all of 2000 drinking it. :-)
Back then I was just starting to learn the rudiments of fiction writing, ACFW was not yet formed, and my writing was mostly relegated to articles and stories required by the writing classes I was taking.
Eight years later I've sold a few articles, but am still looking for that elusive fiction contract. Will 2008 be my year? A year from now will I be looking back on the past 12 months and rejoicing that God has finally blessed me in such a way. Only He knows, and I'd rather keep it that way. If I knew for sure I was going to sell my story this coming year, I might slack off on learning to write better and making the story better. And, if I knew already that I wouldn't gain a fiction contract or an agent in 2008, I may be tempted to slack off, stop querying agents, and maybe even shelve the story.
Isn't that true about most things in our life? Do we really want to know the future before it becomes the present? I don't.
As I end 2007, my hopefully-final revision is just about done. On New Year's Day I hope to send a copy of the full manuscript out to several volunteer readers for them to read. Now, that's really laying it on the line! They've never read my work or critiqued anything I've done. My crit partner loves the story, but will they? Difficult as it is, I'd rather have them read it first than an editor or agent who holds the key to my story's future by the decisions they make. If my readers come back loving it, I will rejoice and send it out. If they suggest weaknesses and confusion, then I have time to fix it before I send. Either way I'm a winner.
What better way to begin the new year? I can't think of a one.
Happy New Year!
Sunday, December 23, 2007
This Christmas season I've participated in a Christmas Concert that focused on Jesus as Light to a dark world, attended a wonderful program at Willow Creek, our local mega-church, that showed through drama and music how God our Creator promised a Savior to a broken world and that Savior is Jesus, and sung countless carols that tell this great news that is for all men.
Yet, all you have to do is open the local newspaper and read the countless ads to see that for many people the holiday isn't about God's gift to us but about our gifts to others, or what others will give to us. Every time a news program features children, an adult asks the kids what they want for Christmas. It starts early.
Don't get me wrong. I love giving gifts, and I love getting them too! But over the Christmas holidays, even for believers, it's not difficult to get caught up in the mindset of the commercialism that goes along with the holiday. How could we not? The stores have been decorated for months, Christmas music has been filling the airwaves since Halloween, and Santa is sitting on his throne in every mall in America asking little boys and girls what they want him to bring.
Today at church, 11 members of one family lit the last of the Advent candles. They are part of a larger extended family who will board a bus tomorrow for Greensburg, Kansas, the small town that was totally devastated by a tornado earlier this year. They will spend the week helping to rebuild the town, doing whatever needs doing, and funding it all with money they would have spent on gifts for each other. The family received a round of applause when they explained what they are about to do.
That family has taken the complaint that many often express about the over-commercialization of Christmas and put rubber to the road. The road that leads to Kansas. I know that God will use this time to not only help the people of Greensburg, but He will also use it to change each family member's heart forever.
I just wonder if next year my church will have more people doing their part to show the real meaning of Christmas by being Jesus with skin on to others rather than focusing on material gifts?
God gave the world His most precious gift of all, His only Son, Jesus, so that we can be reconciled with Him forever. The gift is priceless. Yet, no matter how large or small our bank account, after we've received the gift ourselves, we can turn around and give it to others. God provides the gift, but He involves us to share the Good News about it to others.
And what makes it even more wonderful is that it's a gift that can be given any day of the year. Not just on Christmas. Who will you give God's precious gift to this year?
Friday, December 21, 2007
I can say without a doubt that any book Tracey has written is worth taking the time to write!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tracey Bateman is the award-winning author of more than twenty-five books, including Defiant Heart, the First in the Westeard Hearts series. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and recently served on the board as President. She loves in Lebanon, Missouri, with her husband and their four children.
ABOUT THE BOOK
In the second book in the Westward Hearts trilogy, will the promise of a new life out west heal the scars of Toni's past?
This series tells the stories of three strong women as they struggle to survive on the rough wagon train and lose their hearts to unlikely heroes along the way/ Thin Little House on the Prairie meets Francine river's Redeeming Love and you begin to get a sense of the riveting historical series that Tracey Bateman has created.
In this second installment, we follow Toni Rodden, a former prostitute who sought to escape her past and build a new life, and a new reputation, when she joined the wagon train. Despite much resentment and distrust from the other women, Toni has finally earned a place on the wagon train and found a surrogate family in Fannie Caldwell and her two siblings. For the first time in her life, Toni actually feels free.
But while Toni once harbored dreams that her new life might include a husband and family, she soon realizes the stigma that comes with her past is difficult to see beyond and that she'll never be truly loved or seen as worthy. As the trip out west begins to teach her to survive on her own, she resolves to make her own living as a seamstress when the train finally reaches Oregon.
But despite Toni's conviction that no man will be able to see beyond her marred past, Sam Two-feathers, the wagon scout and acting preacher for the train seems to know of a love that forgives sins and values much more than outward appearances. Will Sam have the confidence to declare his love? Will Toni be able to trust in a God that can forgive even the darkest past? Faith, love, and courage will be put to the test in Distant Heart.
Buy it at Amazon!
Monday, December 17, 2007
The title describes exactly what my life has been the past several days. The frustrating part is that in that list there isn't one word - writing.
It's been one of those times.
The Chicago area received a bunch of snow last week and then again all day Saturday into Sunday. During that time, I celebrated an early Christmas on Friday with my friend, Ed, because he was leaving town Saturday. That same day, the engine warning light on my dashboard went on and my handbook said "Do not stop. Do not pass "Go." Go directly to (not jail) the dealer." Well, not an exact quote, but you get the idea.
So, Ed left in the snow on Saturday, and being that the day was snowy and my engine warning light glowing, I didn't drive up to Wisconsin to attend the book signing of a fellow ACFW member as I planned. I stayed close to home, but was so exhausted from a late night and early morning wake-up I couldn't put two words together. So I spent the day watching shows I'd recorded on the DVR, including the movie, "The Note," an adaptation of Angie Hunt's book by the same title. It had been so long since I'd read the story I'd forgotten a good bit of the storyline, but much of it came back as I watched the movie. It was a nice, enjoyable movie to watch on a snowy afternoon. Sunday was an easy-going day. Church then just hanging out at home. But Sunday is the Lord's Day and I try not to write on Sundays, so I worked on my Christmas cards. Before the day was over I discovered that the remote control for the TV/DVR cable had died.
Today I was off to the car dealer and had a new charcoal filter thingy changed out on the catalytic converter. Then from there I went to Comcast to exchange my dead remote control for a new one--only to find after returning home that the new one doesn't work either!
Tomorrow I plan to write, write and write again. I have to get this read-through done this week so I can get it sent to the agent. That is if it doesn't snow or something else doesn't break.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Karen Ball , bestselling novelist, is also the editor behind several of today's bestselling Christian novels. Her love for words was passed down through her father and grandfather - both pastors who shared God's truth through sermons and storytelling. Blending humor, poignancy, and honesty, Karen's writing style is a powerful force for revealing God's truth. She lives in Oregon with her husband, Don, and their "kids," Bodhan, a mischief-making Siberian husky, and Dakota, an Aussie-terrier mix who should have been named "Destructo."
ABOUT THE BOOK:
until the ground crumbles beneath her feet.
Kyla Justice has arrived. Her company, Justice Construction, is one of the most critically acclaimed, commercially successful companies in the Pacific Northwest. And yet, something is missing. Not until she’s called on to build a center for inner-city kids does she realize what it is: her sense of purpose. Now nothing can stop her, not the low budget, not supply problems, not gang opposition, not her boyfriend’s suggestion that she sell her business and marry him–and most especially not that disagreeable Rafael Murphy.Rafe Murphy understands battle. Wounded in action, this Force Recon Marine carries the scars–and the nightmares–to prove it. Though he can’t fight overseas any longer, he’s found his place as a warrior in the civilian world. So he soldiers on, trusting that one of these days, God will reveal to him why Rafe survived the ambush in Iraq. That day has arrived.
Kyla and Rafe both discover that determination alone won’t carry them through danger and challenges. When gang violence threatens their very foundations, there’s only one way to survive: rely on each other, be real–and surrender to God. In other words, risk everything…
Buy it at Amazon!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Well, maybe not the Ice Man, but ice (and lots of it) sure has been with us a lot for the past several days. Saturday night we had an ice storm, then Sunday evening another system went through. It skipped Monday, and today I woke up to trees that looked much like this photo. Schools have been closed and people were cautioned to stay off the roads, if possible.
For once I'm glad to stay in and I've been busy working on my read-through along with other things that need doing before Christmas.
What happened with my friend, Kristy's, radiation yesterday? Nothing. They got to the center at the appointed time and were told the machine just broke. It had been working fine right up until her appointment. Her husband, Milton, started laughing because so many of us were praying right at that moment. Of course, God, does have a sense of humor and we all believe the machine broke because it wasn't yet time for Kristy to have that radiation treatment. We may not know why just yet, but I trust that she was able to get the treatment today. We are believing God for a miracle, no matter what day of the week He decides.
There are so many other things going on that need prayer, some I am not at liberty to discuss. Some I can, like what kind of senseless stuff is going on with all these shootings? First the mall in Nebraska, and then Sunday with the two shootings at a Youth With a Mission training center and a large church, both in Colorado and both caused by the same person--a disgruntled young man with a vendetta against Christianity. Since when is shooting and killing the way to settle such anger? It's all part of the downward spiral this world is on. I praise God that He has given me a chance to know Him and to have the assurance that He will prevail in the end. There is more to life than what we see right here and now.
So, I keep on doing what God has called me to do. Put my words to story and sprinkle the prose liberally with salt.
Friday, December 07, 2007
Scripture says that two are better than one, and that we are to be persistent in our prayers.
About a month ago fellow ACFW member, Kristy Dykes, was stunned to learn that she had a malignant brain tumor. All she did was go to her regular eye doctor for a routine eye exam. Seeing that she was losing peripheral vision in both eyes the doctor told her she needed an MRI immediately. About a week later she was in surgery to remove the tumor. A very deadly tumor. Doctors have told her that unless the Lord intervenes her chance at living more than a few more months is nil. Yet Kristy is a fighter.
Already God has answered prayer in restoring her capacity to read and write even a little bit. For a couple weeks after the surgery she could do neither. Now she can do some of that.
Her family and friends have all been praying around the clock for her, each taking an assigned time of the day or night, but now we are putting out a plea for a very special prayer to be made on her behalf this coming Monday, December 10th. At 3:30 Eastern time she will have her first radiation treatment. They have asked that everyone pray at that very time for the radiation to wipe every cell of that cancer from her head. That God would do a miraculous healing for Kristy. I have witnessed healings of such nature in the past and God can do this.
You can read more of Kristy and her husband Milton's journey through this trial by going to Kristy's blog. Milton has taken over the daily updates on Kristy since the surgery where he not only keeps us informed of her condition but also shares about their wonderful love for God and for each other.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
I am currently reading this book and am thoroughly enjoying it! I'd hoped to finish the book by the time CFBA spotlighted it, but the busy monthly activities and working on my WIP's revision threw a curve in my plans. If you like mystery, romance, and horses, you will love this story.
I'll post below the author notes and story description. From what I've read so far, this story is a winner, as are the other stories I've read by fellow ACFW member, Virginia Smith. I recommend it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Virginia Smith left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker in the summer of 2005. Since then she has contracted eight novels and numerous articles and short stories.
She writes contemporary humorous novels for the Christian market, including her debut, Just As I Am (Kregel Publications, March 2006) and her new release, Murder by Mushroom (Steeple Hill, August 2007). Her short fiction has been anthologized, and her articles have been published in a variety of Christian magazines.
An energetic speaker, Virginia loves to exemplify God’s truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, “Biblical Truths in Star Trek.”
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Local police had tagged single mom Becky Dennison as their prime suspect. But she'd only been in the wrong place at the wrong time...admittedly, with her boss's lifeless body. Sure it looked bad, but Becky had no motive for killing...even if she had opportunity.
When the director of the retirement farm for thoroughbred champions is murdered, Becky Dennison teams up with the handsome manager of a neighboring horse farm, Scott Lewis, to find her boss's killer. Soon the amateur detective are hot on the trail of the murderer...even as their feelings for each other deepen.
The amateur sleuths uncover a trail of clues that lead them into the intricate society of Kentucky's elite thoroughbred breeding industry. They soon find themselves surrounded by the mint julep set - jealous southern belles and intensely competitive horse breeders - in a high-stakes game of danger, money, and that famous southern pride.
And for Becky and Scott, this race on the Kentucky tracks has the greatest stakes of all: life or death!
Romantic Times awarded Bluegrass PerilBuy it at Amazon!
* * * * FOUR STARS! * * * *
Monday, December 03, 2007
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
Well now I've read it and I must say this is a book you don't want to miss! Once I picked it up I couldn't put it down until I finished it two days later. Well, I did take time out to eat and sleep and work on my WIP, LOL. But every free moment I could read, I read.
It's hard to imagine what it would be like to have a 13-year-old girl show up on your doorstep with the news that your husband is her father, but that's what happens to Suzanne Carson in "The Other Daughter." As far as Suzanne knew she had been the only woman her husband, David, an on-fire Christian, had ever been with. Up to now a strong, independent person when it came to things of the Lord, Suzanne faces a lot of struggles with acceptance of this young girl. It seems that this turn of events in her life is forcing a wedge between her and the Lord deeper than there ever has been. At every turn she rationalizes her actions and feelings only to find another obstacle has reared up. Miralee traces the character and spiritual arcs of both David and Suzanne to a satisfying conclusion as they both have to deal with David's dalliance almost fifteen years earlier, as well as forgiveness.
I highly recommend this book and if you would like to win my copy, please leave a comment in the comment section and I'll throw your name into a hat. I will draw a name next Monday, December 3rd. Note: You must leave contact information in the comment so I can reach you if I draw your name. If I can't reach you, I'll have to draw another name!
Friday, November 23, 2007
A while back I reviewed the first book in this three-book series published by Barbour , "Bygones," and have been patiently waiting to find out more about the characters in this small Kansas Mennonite community. I wasn't disappointed.
Bygones focused on Marie, who had been raised in the community as old order Mennonite, but as a very young woman had eloped with a truck driver who stole her heart. Soon after her marriage Marie's husband was killed in an accident, leaving a pregnant Marie who had been shunned by her father. She raised her daughter on her own, outside the church. Then through certain circumstances, Marie and her young adult daughter, Beth, were drawn back to Marie's hometown where Marie was reconciled to God, family, and love.
Beginnings is Beth's story and the internal conflicts she experiences as she tries to live in a town where she feels like an outcast. A new believer but not Mennonite, she wants to live among the relatives she's never known, but doesn't know how to bridge the gap. Even her mom has adopted the church family of her childhood and family by returning to the Mennonite community and wearing the prayer cap and plain clothes, while Beth who is now a stained-glass artist is most comfortable in jeans and flannel shirts. I don't want to reveal too many spoilers, but suffice it to say, there is an element of romance as well as hightened relational issues as Beth struggles with her new faith and finding her niche.
Kim does a masterful job of letting the reader get inside Beth's head and heart and and experiencing the struggles alongside Beth. As a reader, I found the spiritual and character arc in Beth most gratifying. Kim ends the book in a satisfying way, yet still leaving the reader wanting more.
The final book in the series, titled "Blessings," is due out in February.
I'd intended to give the book away in a drawing, but last week I accidentally tipped my coffee mug over on the book. With the coffee-stained pages, I can hardly offer it as a prize. But I am willing to give it to the first person who comments here that they would like it. Just be sure to let me know where I can contact you with mailing information. Don't publish it in the comments!
Thursday, November 22, 2007
I just want to wish the readers of A Writer's Journey in the U.S. a very blessed and happy Thanksgiving.
I think Psalm 91 sums it up well.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you make the Most High your dwelling— even the LORD, who is my refuge- then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
"Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."
There have been times when I've zoned out while driving. Thinking more about something other than what I was doing, only to be jerked out of my trance with just enough time to slam on the brakes because the car in front of me had stopped. I believe that to be God's protection, alerting me of certain disaster in the nick of time. Thinking about those kind of times when I'm aware of the hedge of protection around me, I have to wonder how many more times do things like this happen that blow right past me. Times I will never know.
I hope this psalm will give you something to ponder. Enjoy the day.
Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
I later learned that one of the books offered for November wasn't going to be able to be shipped in a timely fashion so the All Decked Out book was offered as a substitute. Since I didn't ask for the book that was postponed, I never got All Decked Out.
I haven't yet read this particular Yada Yada book, but trust me, I will. This is the final book in Neta Jackson's series. That alone will make it a bittersweet experience when I do read it.
If you haven't yet read any of these books, I want to suggest you start with book #1 which is simply titled The Yada Yada Prayer Group. But, each book can stand alone on it's own and I'm here to promote Yada Yada Gets Decked Out.
The books are set in the Rogers Park area of Chicago which is a muti-ethnic neighborhood at the very northern edge of Chicago. Cross the line at Howard Street and you are in Evanston.
The Yada Yada's are a group of ladies who meet at a women's conference and are randomly put into a group for the conference. The woman are about as mixed up as any group can get ethnicity wise. Black, Asian, Hispanic, and White. Jodie Baxter is the protag who tells the story. She's the white one. Seeing the character arc and spiritual arc for Jodie through the storyline has been a lesson in spiritual and character growth for this WASP (White, Anglosaxon, Protestant) woman (me), not to mention the same for the other characters in the stories.
In fact, right now I am listening to the series in audio format whenever I go out for my walks in the neighborhood and I come home feeling like I've been at a prayer meeting. No kidding.
I was so sad when I heard All Decked Out is to be the last in the series. I know most series do eventually stop, but I wanted to drive over to Neta Jackson's house (she lives in Evanston) and beg her to sit down at her computer and bang out another story. LOL. Of course, I didn't. I've since heard that she's starting a new series which promises to be a spinoff of Yada Yada and I cannot wait for the first book to come out.
Since I haven't yet read All Decked Out, I'll let the CFBA tell the story of this book:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Neta Jackson Neta Jackson's award-winning Yada books have sold more than 350,000 copies and are spawning prayer groups across the country. She and her husband, Dave, are also an award-winning husband/wife writing team, best known for the Trailblazer Books--a 40-volume series of historical fiction about great Christian heroes with 1.8 million in sales--and Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes (vols 1-4).
Dave and Neta live in Evanston, Illinois, where for twenty-seven years they were part of Reba Place Church, a Christian church community. They are now members of the Chicago Tabernacle, a multi-racial congregation that is a daughter church of the well-known Brooklyn Tabernacle.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Turkey dinners, tree trimming, and decking the halls--it's that time of year again! And I Jodi Baxter, can't wait to celebrate. My kids are coming home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then all of us Yadas are getting decked out for a big New Year's party.
But God's idea of "decked out" might just change the nature of our party plans. A perplexing encounter with a former student, a crime that literally knocks me off my feet, a hurry-up wedding, and a child who will forever change our family...it's times like these that I really need my prayer sisters.
This holiday season, we Yada Yadas are learning that no one can out celebrate God. So let's get this party started!
THE YADA YADA PRAYER GROUP GETS DECKED OUT is a festive novella featuring America's favorite prayer group, the Yada Yadas!
Sometimes dubbed "chick-lit" for their bright covers and catchy titles, this series provides far more depth than witty banter and wacky situations. Inspired by a prayer group of real women, each book will have you laughing, crying, and perhaps praying anew.
In this highly anticipated installment, the Yada Yada sisters-a group of multi-cultural friends-and their families prepare for the event of the season.
But yes, eager readers, this novella—which picks up a year and a half after the end of book #6 The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Rolling concludes the series with some twists and turns that will amaze and encourage you. Plus, it sets the stage for Neta’s new series with new characters and new situations but also occasional roles for the beloved Yada Yada sisters in familiar Chicago neighborhoods with all their cultural richness.
It would make a great Christmas gift too! Buy it at Amazon!
Saturday, November 17, 2007
I've made good headway on my story revision. Not yet done, but moving ever so closer to the end. I'm within 5,000 words of my 90,000 word goal and I still have one more scene and one more chapter to add, as well as the ever deepening POV. I'm still aiming for December 1st.
As I write, fellow ACFW member and author, Kristy Dykes is recovering in a Florida hospital from brain surgery. Kristy went to the eye doctor just over a week ago for a routine eye exam only to discover she was losing peripheral vision in both eyes. An MRI confirmed she had a brain tumor. Over the past week or so Kristy has been chronicling her experience on her blog. In the midst of her trial she has been ministering to all of us who have been reading her words. The pathology report after surgery (which occurred Thursday) confirmed the cancer. Now that she is recovering from the surgery her husband and other family have been posting to her blog. This event has drawn Christians from all over the world into corporate prayer.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
James Scott Bell is a former trial lawyer who now writes full time. He is also the fiction columnist for Writers Digest magazine and adjunct professor of writing at Pepperdine University.
His book on writing, Plot and Structure is one of the most popular writing books available today. The national bestselling author of several novels of suspense, he grew up and still lives in Los Angeles, where he is at work on his next Buchanan thriller.
James can be reached through the Contact link on his Website
ABOUT THE BOOK:
On a wet Tuesday morning in December, Ernesto Bonilla, twenty-eight, shot his twenty-three-year-old wife, Alejandra, in the backyard of their West 45th Street home in South Los Angeles. As Alejandra lay bleeding to death, Ernesto drove their Ford Explorer to the westbound Century Freeway connector where it crossed over the Harbor Freeway and pulled to a stop on the shoulder.
Bonilla stepped around the back of the SUV, ignoring the rain and the afternoon drivers on their way to LAX and the west side, placed the barrel of his .38 caliber pistol into his mouth, and fired.
His body fell over the shoulder and plunged one hundred feet, hitting the roof of a Toyota Camry heading northbound on the harbor Freeway. The impact crushed the roof of the Camry. The driver, Jacqueline Dwyer, twenty-seven, an elementary schoolteacher from Reseda, died at the scene.
This would have been simply another dark and strange coincidence, the sort of thing that shows up for a two-minute report on the local news--with live remote from the scene--and maybe gets a follow-up the next day. Eventually the story would go away, fading from the city's collective memory.
But this story did not go away. Not for me. Because Jacqueline Dwyer was the woman I was going to marry.
In Try Dying, this fast-paced thriller, lawyer Ty Buchanan must enter a world of evil to uncover the cause of his fiancee's death--even if hie has to kill for the truth.
"Bell is one of the best writers out there...he creates characters readers care
about...a story worth telling."
Buy it at Amazon!
Friday, November 09, 2007
And, already, the wheels are turning on the plot for the next story. Maybe by New Year's I'll be writing it!
Monday, November 05, 2007
I’ve been married for 35 years this July and have two wonderful children, Marnee and Steven. I'm active at our small church, serving on staff with my ministerial license and working with women in a counseling/ministering capacity. My husband and I are looking forward to full retirement soon and taking off for a few months at a time on our 51' sailboat, where my writing will take on an entirely new creativity. We have a horse, a dog and three cats that my daughter and her husband will inherit while we're gone. Thankfully, they live on the adjoining property and are animals lovers.
Tell us a bit about your first sale: who is the publisher? Which book? Genre, etc.
My premiere novel is The Other Daughter—the story of David and Susanne Carson, a couple with an already fragile marriage that’s rocked to its foundation when a young teenaged girl appears at the door….
Here’s a brief summary:
The girl standing at the door took a deep breath, pulling her suitcase a little closer to her trembling legs. "My mama's dead. He's my daddy."Susanne Carson knew that she could trust the love of her life—her husband, David—until she discovered a strange, unkempt young girl on their doorstep, claiming to be David's daughter.Not that their marriage had ever been perfect—David's decision to embrace the Christian faith had strained their relationship. Susanne may not have agreed with his beliefs, but at least she trusted him. Had David been hiding this not-so-little secret from his past? He wanted Susanne to believe in his God, but believing hadn't done much to keep David out of another woman's arms.As David confronts the truth of his past, Susanne must face her own moment of truth as her marriage is taken to the breaking point and the life of one young girl is left in her hands.
Take us through your process of writing a novel briefly—from conception to revision.
I’m more of a seat-of-the-pants writer…I get an idea, decide who the main characters are and start writing. I don’t follow a lot of rules, and tend to get better acquainted with my characters as I go. I have a basic overview of the story line in very simple outline form…I’m talking, a few sentences that might fill one page, at most, with very few details.
It does make it a bit more time intensive, in that I probably have more revisions than an organized writer, but I’ve found I can be more creative if everything isn’t mapped out along the way. My characters have more room to grow, change, and make some of their own decisions…I’ve had things happen in my story line that weren’t planned, but that fit beautifully and strengthened the plot. After writing the rough draft, I’ll submit it to my crit group a few chapters at a time, as well as having an editor I trust review the first third to half of the book for plot holes and inconsistencies, then start revising and editing.
This is a hard one, as I’m still very early in my writing career, having only started writing seriously just over two years ago. I’m growing and learning constantly, and in all honesty, I haven’t had a lot of frustrating times since beginning this journey. I’d have to say that the issue of timing probably stands out more than most other things. I was in too big of a hurry, at first, to send my ‘baby’ out into the world when it wasn’t ready. Had I taken the advice of an author/editor friend on some of the changes she gave me that would have strengthened my book, and not been so sure it was fine the way it was, I probably wouldn’t have had some of my early rejections. Of course, rejections are part of the growing process, and I learned valuable lessons there, too.
How much marketing do you do? What have you found that particularly works well for you?
I’m one of those rarities in the writing world who actually enjoys the marketing part of writing. A lot of authors I know prefer to hole up in their office and write and not mess with promotion and marketing…not me. I love it. In fact, I probably spend too much time on it, and not enough on writing. Currently, I have a blog, web site, ShoutLife profile and moderate a marriage group there, as my book deals with marriage issues, a My Space site, a 60 second book trailer on God Tube and My Tube, an email campaign, free book drawings, and try to stay active on a couple different writer’s groups. I also keep in touch with about 300 people who’ve signed my guest book on my web site, and offered to help with marketing. Those people have been amazing in passing along the word to their friends. I decided I didn’t want to put out the money to have someone else put a blog tour together, so jumped in and made that happen, too. I can tell you one thing, there’s not enough hours in a day for writing, marketing, husbands, houses, animals, friends, church and all the other things I’m supposed to be doing…but thankfully, I’ve not been kicked out of church, my family and husband haven’t disowned me, and my house isn’t falling down around my ears… yet, LOL!
Do you have any parting words of advice?
Keep your priorities in order…God first, family next, ministry and others (including your writing) third. Write for the Lord, and yourself, rather than to be published. It will cut way down on the disappointment and frustration level, and bring a deep sense of joy and accomplishment.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
I will be featuring Miralee and her book here at A Writer's Journey on Monday, 11/5. In the meantime you can go find Miralee on her blog tour and keep track of her, too, after she's been here.
Here's the schedule:
3rd Tina Helmuth---The Ink's Not Dry
4th Teresa Slack---ShoutLife Blog
5th Pam Meyers---A Writer’s Journey
6th Betsy St. Amant---Betsy Ann's Blog
7th Megan DiMaria---A Prisoner of Hope
8th Christa Allan---CBAllan WordPress
9th Susan Marlow---Suzy Scribbles---Homeschool Blogger
10th Jamie Driggers---Surviving the Chaos
11th Cindy Bauer----Christian Fiction Author & Speaker
12th Angie Breidenbach---God Uses Broken Vessels
13th Patricia Carroll---Patricia PacJac Carroll
14th Toni V. Lee---Spreading Truth Through Fiction
15th Camille Eide---Faith Inspiring Fiction
16th Lisa Jordan---Musings
Friday, November 02, 2007
Well, I just had a first. I got my hair trimmed to Christmas music on November 2nd. Three weeks before Thanksgiving!
It seems around Chicago there's a race on the local radio stations to see who can start playing Christmas music first. One of the stations started yesterday. I couldn't believe it. It's a station my hairdresser normally has her radio set to and she said she keeps forgetting to change it.
And they weren't just playing a song every once in a while. It's every single song, all day long. She told me it's going to be that way 24/7 until Christmas Day.
I love Christmas. It's the day Christians celebrate Jesus' first coming to earth as baby. But even so, let's celebrate Thanksgiving first. Last year I asked in this blog whatever happened to Thanksgiving because Christmas has just about wiped that wonderful holiday off the minds of retailers and others who are out to cash in on Christmas. Whatever gives them the most bang for the buck, that's where their hearts are set.
We need to write some Thanksgiving songs. Then maybe at least the radio stations would hold off. What do you think?
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
(Thomas Nelson November 6, 2007)
We have another two-for-one week on the Christian Fiction Blog Tour. I didn't get this book ahead of time, but am awaiting it to arrive in the mail now. I can't wait to get it because Denise's stories never fail to entertain and cause me to think. I know without actually reading this book myself that you are going to love it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped.Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!In addition to Surrender Bay, the second Nantucket book releases in April 2008. The title is The Convenient Groom and features Kate Lawrence, a relationship advice columnist, whose groom dumps her on her wedding day. Denise is currently at work on the third Nantucket book (Oct 2008) which is untitled so far.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
When Sam's estranged step-father dies, she inherits his ocean-front cottage in Nantucket--not because he kindly bequeathed it to her, but because he neglected to ever create a will. Sam returns to the island she left 11 years ago with her daughter Caden to fix up the house and sell it, but she isn't counting on is the fact that Landon Reed still lives two doors down from her childhood home.As their long-dormant romance begins to bud again, Sam must face the fact that Landon still doesn't know why she really left the island. Will the secrets she's hidden all these years tear them apart? Or is Landon's love really as unconditional as he claims?
"I've always thought Denise Hunter was an amazing writer but this wonderful story sets her firmly at the forefront of compelling love stories. How Landon breaks down Samantha's determination that she is unworthy of love kept me glued to the pages. An amazing story!"--Colleen Coble, author of Fire Dancer (Smoke Jumper Series)
Buy it at Amazon!
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Years ago, when I adopted Chessie the breeder cautioned me that female Siamese are talkers. At the time I already had Chessie's half-brother, Max, who wasn't too much of a Chatty Cathy and I thought surely it won't be too bad. Well, the breeder, of course, was right. She was always more talkative than Max, but not to the point that it drove me crazy.
It will be two years in February that Max developed kidney disease and had to be put down. From the get-go I don't think Chessie missed him much. She was too excited at the prospect of now being queen of the house. Of course, she was wrong. Most of the time. But the one thing I've noticed is that without Max here, her verbal skills have become finely tuned. I've learned to put up with it during the day. But the night is another story.
Chessie has recently developed a very bad habit of deciding it's time for me to wake up at four a.m. or thereabouts. Who needs a rooster with her around? She meows. I yell at her. She meows again. I yell more. And on it goes. Then I finally drift back to sleep and ten minutes later my radio goes on. Time to write, and I've missed an hour's sleep. I drag out of bed. Picture the guy on the old commercial saying "Time to make the donuts," only I'm saying "Time to make the story."
Today most of my morning was taken up with my volunteer job teaching reading and writing English to non-English speakers. I came home at noon full of intentions to write, if only I could see the computer screen through my drooping eyelids. I'd type a few words and yawn. I'd make a few corrections and yawn again. Finally, I gave up and laid down for a snooze. I no sooner did I do that and what did I hear?
I've had Chessie for over twelve years. I don't know if getting another cat at this point is the answer. Would she be so territorial that I'd never have any peace? Maybe I just need to pray a lot.
God silenced Zechariah. Do you think He might silence a cat?
Monday, October 29, 2007
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
ABOUT THE BOOK:
IS SEEING BELIEVING?Six years after completing a manned mission to the Red Planet, Admiral John Wells is set to make another journey to Mars. But this time his crew is not alone, as John's team encounters a secret colony comprised of individuals pursuing John Raines' strange religion, the "Father Race."While John begins to uncover a web of lies on Mars, his wife and daughter are struggling for survival on earth. Now John must survive his dangerous mission and find a way back home, even as a shocking plan begins to unfold millions of miles away on earth.Austin Boyd is back with his third thrilling novel in the Mars Hill Classified series, full of high-tech intrigue, memorable characters, and adventure that transports readers to another world.From the Back Cover:With nothing left for him on Earth, Rear Admiral John Wells didn't hesitate to lead a third NASA team to Mars, but he never dreamed that one day they'd look out their laboratory module into the lights of a slow-moving vehicle not their own. In the third installment of the Mars Hill Classified series, life on Mars becomes increasingly more unpredictable as the past collides with the future and nothing, not even the dead, is as it seems.Meanwhile, back on Earth, the fate of hundreds, including John Wells' family--presumed dead these last six years--rests precariously in the hands of Malcolm Raines, self-proclaimed Guardian of the Mother Seed and Principal Cleric of Saint Michael's Remnant, and his insidious plans for the Father Race.Wells will find himself in a race against time and all odds to expose the truth: about Mars, about Malcolm Raines, and, if he's very brave, about himself.
"Austin Boyd is one of the brightest new voices in Christian fiction. His long association with the space program lends authenticity as he reveals the turmoil in the minds and hearts of those who are willing to risk everything by making
that journey. In The Return, we learn that both human emotions and God's presence reach far beyond the pull of Earth's gravity."--Richard L Mabry, author of The Tender Scar
Buy it at Amazon!
Friday, October 26, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
(Thomas Nelson August 7, 2007)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Matt Bronleewe is a recognized producer, songwriter and author. The former member of the band Jars of Clay, has earned numerous awards producing and co-writing albums that have sold a combined total of over 20 million copies. His songs have recently been recorded by Disney pop sensations Aly & AJ, American Idol finalist Kimberley Locke, and more. Bronleewe has worked with Grammy Award-winning artists such as Michael W. Smith, International pop singer Natalie Imbruglia and Heroes star Hayden Panettiere.Born in Dallas, Texas, Bronleewe was raised on a farm in Kansas, where he lived until he left for college in 1992. At Greenville College in Illinois, Bronleewe formed the band Jars of Clay with his dorm roommate and two neighbors, and the group soon found success. Though Bronleewe opted to leave Jars of Clay early on to pursue an academic career, he soon found himself in Nashville, co-writing, producing, and playing music professionally.To add to his list of accomplishments, Bronleewe has expanded his love of story telling beyond music into authorship. He is currently penning a 5 book series for Thomas Nelson Fiction. Illuminated, in stores now, begins the adventurous series about rare manuscripts and the mysteries within.Bronleewe currently resides in Brentwood, Tenn., with his wife and three children. He continues to write and produce music, and he also volunteers through his church to help disadvantaged youth in the community. Bronleewe enjoys reading, taste-testing good food and watching sports, as well as indulging his interests in art, architecture, design and science.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
IT'S BEEN 500 YEARS IN THE MAKING...PREPARE TO BE ILLUMINATED...August Adams has failed his family before. He's sacrificed relationships in pursuit of adventure, fame, and money. Now the very lives of those he loves depend on his ability to decipher a centuries-old puzzle encrypted in the colorful hand-painted illuminations that adorn three rare Gutenberg Bibles.It's a secret that could yield unimaginable wealth, undermine two major religions, and change the course of Western civilization. Two ruthless, ancient organizations are willing to do anything to get their hands on it. And August has the span of one transatlantic flight to figure it out.If he fails, those he holds most dear will die. If he succeeds, he'll destroy a national treasure.The clock ticks, the suspense mounts, and the body count rises as August pits his knowledge and his love for his family against the clock, secret societies, and even Johannes Gutenberg himself.
"...this rare breed of suspense thriller combines mysterious hidden clues,secret societies, buried treasure, double agents, and the Knights Templar...if you turned National Treasure into international treasure, traded DaVinci codes for Gutenberg Bibles, married it to Indiana Jones, and added the pacing of 24you'd be in the neighborhood of Illuminated...on a scale of one to 10, this onegoes to 11."- Aspiring Retail Magazine
Buy it at Amazon!
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
What’s Informed Consent about?
Jeremy Cramer, the next Einstein of research, is a medical resident specializing in infectious diseases. While working on a way to revive water submersion victims, he makes surprising discoveries, while also living with massive guilt over incidental infections that occur (which he could have prevented). Even as his marriage teeters, his career continues to skyrocket. Then, with a few twists along the way, he finds everything he has fought for threatened by the most personal, most heart-wrenching, choices of all.
I love exploring bioethics, and this book allowed me to consider end-of-life issues, patient rights, a compassionate response to HIV-AIDS…lots of edutainment.
How did you come up with this story? Was there a specific 'what if' moment?The story had a thousand or more “what if” moments. I’m pursuing a PhD in Aesthetic Studies, and I worked on the setting, characters, a lot of the plot, as well as my narrative voice during three novel-writing classes taught by a novelist who writes fiction reviews for Publishers Weekly. And I got some great feedback from fellow students who don’t believe in Christ about ways to address faith issues more naturally. I also took a Dante class, which influenced my choice to give my characters five of the seven deadly sins. (I’m saving the other two for a future work.)But the elements in the plot designed to keep readers up at night came through a brainstorming session with medical doctor, William Cutrer, with whom I’ve coauthored three medical novels.
Who is your favorite character in the book and why?
Dr. Nate Barlow. He’s imperfect, but he cares so much for his patients. And he’s a good friend. He has every reason to be arrogant, but he’s oblivious to his own greatness.
Tell us about your writing environment--do you listen to music? Do you have a writing space or wherever you land? Candles? Incense? Belly dancers?
No music. No dancers. I’m an audio learner as much as a visual one, so I have trouble tuning out any noise. I need it absolutely silent. As for the “where,” I have an office in my house, but I never write there. I prefer the bedroom, where I have a big, stuffed chair with matching ottoman. I sit there with my laptop, which is linked to the network. My husband calls my corner “mission control,” because I have a TV remote, a VCR remote, a DVD remote (I need a universal remote!), a CD remote, and my laptop. Oh, and the cordless phone and my cell.
How did you get started in the writing world?
After I graduated from college, I worked for a 700-employee financial services company where my boss thought I had some writing talent. I got my start twenty years ago working as the editor of employee publications. When the company sold, everybody got laid off. I mourned over leaving a job I loved, but it was the best thing ever for my career. Suddenly I had 700 business contacts all over Dallas.I started a free-lance writing business, and one of my first clients was the music producer for Barney and Friends. Another client was Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS). I edited (and still edit) their magazine, Kindred Spirit. I dabbled in some classes in DTS’s media arts program, and I learned about Joseph Campbell and myth and about Hebrew narrative and Gospel storytelling. I figured if I could tell better stories, I’d write more engaging non-fiction. I had no aspirations ever to write a book, certainly not a novel!
Sandra Glahn, ThM, teaches in the media arts program at Dallas Theological Seminary, where she edits the award-winning magazine Kindred Spirit. The author of six books and co-author of seven others, she is pursuing a PhD in Aesthetic Studies (Arts and Humanities) at the University of Texas at Dallas . She recently released her first solo medical suspense novel, Informed Consent (Cook). She is the co-author of three other such novels, which include the Christy Award finalist, Lethal Harvest.
(For a more extended bio, you can go to http://www.aspire2.com/aboutsandi.htm.)
Sandi's blog site:
or you can go to http://www.aspire2.com/books%20fiction.htm for more on Informed Consent
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense™. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline “Don’t forget to b r e a t h e…® ” She’s so well known in the industry there’s actually a club for her non-readers. That’s right. The Big Honkin’ Chickens Club (BHCC) members are proud of the fact that they’re too wimpy to read Brandilyn’s intense fiction. Now and then one of them tries. Bribing works pretty well. (Just ask Deb Raney.) Somehow they live to tell the tale.Brandilyn writes for Zondervan, the Christian division of HarperCollins Publishers, and is currently at work on her 17th book. Her first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows.She’s also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons), and often teaches at writers conferences. Brandilyn blogs at Forensics and Faith.Visit her website to read the first chapters of all her books.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Carla stared at the gun and David Thornby—or whatever his name was. Her mind
split in two, one side pleading this was some sick joke, the other screaming it
was all too real.“Please. You must have the wrong person. There’s no reason for
someone to want me dead. I don’t have any enemies.”
“Then you’d best rethink your friends.”
Realtor Carla Radling shows an “English gentleman” a lakeside estate—and finds herself facing a gun. Who has hired this assassin to kill her, and why?Forced on the run, Carla must uncover the scathing secrets of her past. Secrets that could destroy some very powerful people...Brandilyn Collins fans and reviewers are saying Crimson Eve is her best book yet:
“Collins tops herself by creating a suspenseful nonstop thrill ride … Truly the
best Christian Fiction suspense title so far this year.”– Library Journal,
“Crimson Eve is Collins at her very best. It left me feeling as if I’d climbed
Mount Everest without oxygen … I didn’t think Brandilyn could outdo herself
after reading Coral Moon. She did.”–TitleTrakk.com
“I’ve never edited a more tightly crafted, deftly woven, compellingly
written book.” –a Crimson Eve editor, with 20 years experience“This is your best
book! I could not stop reading!” – one of many readers with similar
Read about Violet Dawn and Coral Moon, books one and two in the Kanner Lake series.Do you know someone who’s never read a Brandilyn Collins novel? Surely no such person exists. However, should you scrounge up such a friend—someone who enjoys suspense—here’s a special offer from Brandilyn. Be among the first 50 people between now and October 21, 2007 to e-mail her assistant at firstname.lastname@example.org with the person’s name, e-mail address and street address. (Due to exorbitant overseas mailing costs, United States residents only, please).
A signed copy of Crimson Eve will be sent to your friend—free—along with an e-mail from Brandilyn announcing the book is on its way, courtesy of you. (Don’t worry. Brandilyn won’t spam these email addresses. She just wants your friend to know who to thank.) No worries that this story is third in the Kanner Lake series. Each book stands alone. Brandilyn is convinced your friend will so love Crimson Eve, he/she will surely reciprocate with expensive chocolate.
Order it from Amazon!