Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Cabin Fever - Good for What Ails Me

For a short month February has seemed two months long! We've had snow, ice, sleet, sub-zero temperatures, rain, slush. Not a very nice month weather-wise and I'm rapidly developing cabin fever. I long to be outside enjoying a warm breeze, not inside looking out the window wondering if it's ever going to stop snowing. I have a good case of cabin fever.

I think that's why I haven't blogged since last Friday. I haven't been idle, but it's taken a lot of effort to stay in the game inspite of the fact I'm totally jazzed to have acquired two new on-line crit partners. I am so looking forward to exchange chapters with Tammy and Linda. My first three chapters of Murder for Breakfast are ready for their read-through and then it's on to the proposal before finishing the tweak on the entire manuscript.

Tomorrow is March 1st and it may come in like a lion, but I believe 31 days from now it'll be nothing but blue skies and warm breezes. I can hardly wait!

Friday, February 23, 2007

CFBA Book of the Week is Wedgewood Grey by John Aubrey Anderson

This week's CFBA featured book is Wedgewood Gray by John Aubrey Anderson.

Wedgewood Grey is the second book in the Black and White Chronicles. The first was Abiding Darkness (August, 2006).Mississippi cotton country . . . in the spring of 1960.
The War At Cat Lake is fifteen years in the fading past . . . but the demonic beings who launched that first battle, are alive and well at Cat Lake. Waiting.
Late on a Friday night, on a muddy little road a mile east of Cat Lake, a ten-year-old black child is forced to watch while a gang of white men beat his mother to death. Aided by Mose Washington, an old black man, the boy exacts a measure of his own revenge. When the sun comes up on Saturday morning, Mose and the boy are fugitives.
Missy Parker Patterson, who as a child stood at the epicenter of the first war, is married and living in Texas. In the aftermath that follows Mose Washington’s disappearance, she goes back to Cat Lake to discover that the demonic beings have been anticipating her return . . . and so begins the second battle of The War At Cat Lake.
In 1962, an old black man and his grandson move into the country near Pilot Hill, Texas. The people in the local area are told that the old gentleman’s name is Mose Mann—his grandson introduces himself as Bill.
However, the lives of the new arrivals are not as peaceful as they seem. The unassuming old black man and his grandson are being pursued by a triad of formidable and unrelenting adversaries . . . a ruthless political leader, an enduring lie, and an invisible army allied beneath the banner of a hatred for God.
Wedgewood Grey is a story about the impact of choices that real people—people like you and me—are sometimes forced to make.

John Aubrey Anderson was born five miles north of the setting for Abiding Darkness, a cotton country town within a rifle shot of two rivers, a bayou, a double handful of lakes, and endless acres of woods.

After graduating from Mississippi State, he flew six years in the Air Force then twenty-nine years for a major airline. And now he gets to write.

He and his wife have been married for forty some-odd years and live in Texas—about twenty miles south of the Red River. He spends the biggest part of his time writing; she’s immersed in leading a comprehensive, women’s Bible study.

They like greasy hamburgers and Dr. Peppers, most species of warm-blooded creatures (the kind that don’t normally bite), and spending July in the mountains.

To order:

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Revisions--Will They Ever Go Away?

I've been asked by many people how my paid critique from Donna has gone. The reason I've been so slow in reporting about it has nothing to do with Donna and everything to do with my suddenly busy schedule. I listened to the tapes and made dozens of notes on a copy of the manuscript, but I've had no time to work on it. What can I say about the comments on the tapes? In a word--wonderful!

Today, finally, I was able to sit down and start the revisions. Donna pointed out things I never realized needed fixing and other things I should have caught myself but missed. With her input this manuscript is going to shine when I'm done.

First I have to shore up the plot in several places. Then I need to settle on a setting and not make it a real place like I wanted. Too risky with a police chief and coroner being less than perfect. Next I have to make sure my heroine doesn't sound more like me than her in places. In third person you can sometimes get away with it, but not in first person. Then I have to show my emotions and stop labeling them. Enought to do? There's more, but I won't list them.

I didn't make it out of Chapter One today. At this rate I won't be done until 2008. :-) But there's hope. I have all day tomorrow and most of Friday to do this.

Oh yeah, I think I'm supposed to keep at this writing gig. At least for now :-)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

And The Winner Is...

Winter from "Rodeo With a Twist of Suspense" blog won Deb Raney's book "Remember to Forget."

My good friend, Ed, drew the name this afternoon. Congratulations, Winter. As soon as you privately send me your address, I'll get the book off to you. Enjoy and remember to pass it on to someone else when you're finished.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

CFBA Blog Tour Features the Christian Writers' Market Guide

For Years I've kept Sally Stewart's Christian Writers' Market Guide at hand. For writers of all genres it's an indispensible resource for knowing what's what in the ever-changing Christian publishing arena. And this year has something new. Tucked inside is a CD that contains the entire book! How cool is that!

It doesn't matter if you're a novelist, a writer of magazine articles, a poet, or any other kind of writer. If you write for the Christian market, this reference book is a must!

You can order your own copy at Amazon:

Monday, February 12, 2007

Remember to Forget - Deb Raney's New Book is a Winner and You Can Be Too!

I've loved Deb Raney's books ever since I read her Under a Southern Sky. She's one of those authors I buy without knowing anything about the book because she's that good of a writer. This past weekend I read her latest called Remember to Forget.

Calling a book a page-turner has become somewhat of a cliche, but in this case that's exactlyhow to describe this wonderful story. From the first paragraph I was sucked in and hated putting the book down to do other things that demanded my attention.

This novel spoke deep to my emotions of love, trust, and forgiveness as I lived Maggie Anderson's plight with her, starting with getting out of the control of an abusive boyfriend, to when she finds herself in Clayburn, Kanasas. A town so small its population is probably less one New York City block where Maggie lived before fleeing.

You will absolutely fall in love with the residents of Clayburn. The way the people reach out to Maggie so epitomizes the way God reaches out to us. I'm not going to tell you any more about this story because I want you to read the book for yourself.

I'm holding a contest to give away a copy of Remember to Forget! You can enter by leaving me a comment and making the promise to pass the book along to one more person after you've read it.

The contest ends Friday, February 16th at midnight. I'll announce the winner on Saturday the 17th.
I hope lots of you sign up, because this is way too good a story to tuck away on my bookshelf.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Taking an Honest Look - Will I Ever Get This Writing Thing Right?

My writing journey will continue at a new level in the coming days. Yesterday I received four cassette tapes from Donna Fleisher of I'll Read It Editorial Services along with a note that I should go through my Murder for Breakfast manuscript one more time. She also emailed back my manuscript with her notes to accompany the tapes.

Hiring Donna to read my manuscript was money well spent, but still, I'm kind of scared to listen. The good old familiar doubts creep into my mind such as: this is a lousy manuscript; I'm no good at this and she's going to tell me that; what was I thinking, wanting to write something good enough to be published?; I should give up and go paint my kitchen cabinets. I know from talking to other writers that these kind of doubts are a common malady, even amoung the multi-published authors (a fact that always amazes me).

The past couple weeks American Idol has been showing clips of auditions for this year's season. I missed the first week or so, but, I did watch this week. What struck me is how much some of these contestants believed in themselves. In reality, even my singing sounds better than theirs! And, trust me, that's not saying much. I kept asking myself how is it they see themselves good enough to stand up there and belt out a song when, truth be told, their voice sounds like a sick calf's bellows?

Translate this thought to my writing journey and in creeps another doubt. Am I no better than these wanna-be singers? Am I blinded so much by my own desire to see my stories published that I don't see the truth about it's quality? I guess that's why I sent my manuscript to Donna in the first place. The story sounded fine to me on my last read through. But it's my story, one I've been working with for months. It's sometimes hard to see the forest for the trees.

I've been told by more than one person--lots actually--that my writing is good. Sometimes more than good. I've also been told my stories are entertaining. So, now I'll see what Donna has to say. I know she enjoyed the story, but there's four cassette tapes of comments to listen to. Am I just another American-Idol wanna be in the world of writing? Or am I a promising novelist who just needs to learn a few more skills to kick my story up another notch or two?

Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Tag Update!

Were you wondering about who caught the tags I sent a few days ago? I can give you the results of two of them. Check out Winnie's blog at Rodeo With a Twist of Suspense and Cara's at The Law, Books, and Life and learn a few things they think are weird (or unique) about themselves!

It's fun learning unknown facts about my friends :-)

Both are fellow ACFW members and are writers like me. Winnie's stories use rodeo as a setting for her mysteries and Cara landed her first book contract at the ACFW conference in Dallas last September. Well, she didn't really land it there. Heartsong editors announced it there and I had the privilege to be one of the first to give her a contratulatory hug.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Computers-The Good and The Bad

Today I'm writing about computer stuff--good and bad.

First the good. Do you like the newish look to my blog? Susie at Bluebird Blogs is wonderful. She took my own design for the blog header and kicked it up a notch, straightened out the placement, and basically "cleaned up" the entire site. All this in a package she calls "maid service." And all at a reasonable price. Check out her website for more info. The woman is definately gifted in blog design.

The bad is that some not-so-nice people left some unwanted entries on my guestbook at the website. I'm not posting the link to my website here because I want the entries gone before people go in there again. What's really sad is someone advised me to just take the guestbook down because people aren't signing them anyway. Why? They don't want to be spammed.

I guess that's the way of the world these days. Just this morning I woke up to the news that hackers tried to get into one of the major servers that is used to traffic Internet stuff around the world. It doesn't seem to matter if you're a little peon with a little old website about your family, pets, or whatever or a large corporation involved in maintaining communication around the world. If the hackers can get in, they will.

So now I have to figure out how to get the guestbook off my website. On my first go at it, it didn't work. I left it for today when my brain was operating at full speed. Morning works best for me, so guess what I'm going to do soon!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Blog Tag--Six Weird Things About Me

My good friend and author, Rachel Hauck, tagged me last night, laying down the challenge to name six weird things about me, and then tag six others. Fun! First time I've ever been blog tagged. What was really funny was I was burning the late night oil reading her book, "Lost in NashVegas," and was about to write her to tell her what a great story it is. Do I hear the theme from Twilight Zone in the background?

It's been cold here in Chicagoland. Way cold. Hugely cold. Too cold. Try waking up to -10 degrees! The question on everyone's mind is will my car start this morning. Especially if you park outside like me. Thankfully, I don't have to be out there in the early morning trying to get it going, but I will venture out soon. I'm dreaming of white beaches and palm trees. Sure way to get through this!

Okay, on to the weird things about me. Weird? Rachel, are you insinuating I'm weird? LOL.

1. I read a book during most of the SuperBowl last night (and I live in Chicagoland don't forget). Yes, it was Rachel's book, and yes, the Bears weren't doing too hot, but still that may seem weird to some people.

2. I'm early-retired and get up before dawn most mornings.

3. I like to watch bull riding. (Not weird to a lot of people. When you date a guy from Texas and he loves rodeo and the PBR and he takes you to your first rodeo and introduces you to the PBR on television, you get hooked. You know I'm hooked when I watch bull riding when he's not with me.)

4. I like to fix popcorn for supper. (When you're single with no kids you can do these weird things LOL)

5. I graduated from college in my late forties. (Better late than never).

6. The first article I ever queried sold. (Actually not a weird thing, but a God thing. He let me know I was to do this writing gig for real, but all the rejections that followed told me I needed to work hard at it and when I do all things happen in His time, not mine.)

Okay. Now I tag six others: You're it, Cara, Mary, Winter, Michelle, Deb, and Donna.

Friday, February 02, 2007

A Writer's Perfect World

Here’s a scenario of a perfect world in the life of a writer.

Writer gets an idea for a novel.
Writer writes novel.
Writer sends off novel to acquisition editor without using an agent. Writer receives letter from acquisition editor within weeks.
Writer receives large advance check with letter.
Writer receives contract along with check.
Writer is told book will be published within next six to eight months.
Writer is overjoyed.
Writer wakes up from dream, shakes her head, and heads to computer to query novel once more.


One of my most favorite comic strips is "For Better or Worse." I’ve followed the Patterson family this strip depicts since the adult children were toddlers. The son, Michael, is now a married man and works for a large magazine as an editor. But, he has had the book of his heart itching to get out. About a month ago he finished the book, only to have the apartment house where they lived catch on fire. He saved his laptop and by the skin of his teeth and got out of the burning house before he lost his hard drive. Now a month later, he receives a letter from a publisher he apparently sent the manuscript to. The publisher wants to buy his book and enclosed with the letter is an advance and a contract. The sale comes at a time when they’ve lost almost everything in the fire.

I am not here to run down the storyline because that’s exactly what it is—a story. It’s a HEA (happily ever after) story. One that makes the reader feel good. And that’s often why we read stories. Because we want to feel good!

But, being an aspiring novelist who would love to receive such a letter, I can tell you that in the real world it doesn’t happen this way. Oh, you’ll hear of an exception here and there,but 99 percent of the time it’s not that easy. Not by a long shot. Most publishers require your work to be presented by an agent. Even then, you wouldn’t send your full manuscript in out of the chute. First comes the proposal. Then you wait and wait. Then they ask for the full. Then you wait and wait and wait. Then, if they want to buy it, you’re notified through your agent. Then your agent brokers the deal. Then you get the contract. Then you wait and wait. Because after line edits, etc. it takes months and sometimes more than a year before you see your book published.

Because I know what it’s like to dream about writing a story and having someone like it well enough to buy it, I find myself rejoicing with Michael. Yeah, I know he’s a character in a comic strip, but I’ve “known” the guy since he was a toddler.

God has given me the desire and ability to write, and if it’s in His will that my dream of publication will be fulfilled it will happen. Not in the way of comic strip storylines, but in His way. That’s the perfect way.