Saturday, March 31, 2007

Rocky Mountain High Colorado...Here I Come!!

This time last week I was looking to May as being an ordinary month for me. No plans for travel. No plans for anything out of the ordinary. Then God did an extraordinary thing. During my prayer time this week I was seeking His leading on what I should be doing with my writing life and other issues. Later I checked my email and my good friend, Julie Dearyan, had posted on the ACFW loop that no one should miss attending the Colorado Christian Writers Conference because the event is awesome. No only is it a great conference for writers to learn about the craft and connect with editors and agents, but it's also a time of spirtual refreshment. I felt a little nudge inside my gut to check it out. So I started asking questions on the ACFW loop, and all I heard from one person after another was how it's an experience to not be ignored.

I also learned about a scholarship program for 1/2 off the price of registration. A good friend agreed to recommend me for the scholarship. At every turn everything was falling into place, including a round trip price from United for less than $150! Then I received an email from another ACFW member who was thinking about going. We agreed to be roommates. So far nothing had blocked my going. So I signed up, applied for a small writing clinic, and booked my flights. Then the possible roommate situation didn't work out. No problem. I decided if by the next day no one else came forth to answer my query on the ACFW loop for someone to room with, I'd ask the conference to match me and see what God intended. Funny thing, yesterday when I tried to download the lodging registration form so I could fax it from my church office I couldn't get it to download. In fact, it hung my entire computer up and I had to leave for an appointment. When I came back a couple hours later, I had an email from someone saying they'd decided at the last minute to attend the conference, and did I still need a roommate! Was the computer hangup just one of those things or was this divine intervention? You may think the former, but I prefer the latter explanation. God had been in it all along. Why would He stop then?

I am so jazzed. An excellent faculty, fantastic learning experience, agents to pitch, and four days in the moutains communing with God and His creation. Woo Hoo!! I leave May 16th.

God is good.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Fiction Friday!

This week's Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is featuring "Reclaiming Nick" by my friend Susan May Warren. This is the first book in an exciting new Noble Legacy series by Susie about some of my favorite kind of people--cowboys. Book Two, "Taming Rafe" is about a bull rider and will be out January 2008. I'm really excited about that one because a good friend of mine who is a former bull rider gave technical advice to Susie on the art of riding bulls.

Now back to Reclaiming Nick:

A Modern Day Prodigal Comes Home...

But when his father dies and leaves half of Silver Buckle--the Noble family ranch--to Nick’s former best friend, he must return home to face his mistakes, and guarantee that the Silver Buckle stays in the Noble family.
Award-winning journalist Piper Sullivan believes Nick framed her brother for murder, and she’s determined to find justice. But following Nick to the Silver Buckle and posing as a ranch cook proves more challenging than she thinks. So does resisting his charming smile.
As Nick seeks to overturn his father’s will--and Piper digs for answers--family secrets surface that send Nick’s life into a tailspin. But there’s someone who’s out to take the Silver Buckle from the Noble family, and he’ll stop at nothing--even murder--to make it happen.

“Susan May Warren once again delivers that perfect combination of heart-pumping suspense and heart-warming romance.”--Tracey Bateman, author of the Claire Everett series

And can you believe it? Nick even has his own blog. Also, the first chapter is there...

Award winning author SUSAN MAY WARREN recently returned home to her native Minnesota after serving for eight years with her husband and four children as missionaries with SEND International in Far East Russia. She now writes full time from Minnesota's north woods. Visit her Web site at

The book link is:

Monday, March 26, 2007

Teaching To Read Words Is Almost As Much Fun As Writing Them!

Every Tuesday morning I head for the local library and teach my friend Yoshie how to read English through the local Read to Learn Program. The other day I had my camera with me and had someone take our picture.

It's been fun to see Yoshie's reading and speaking skills improve over the past six months. It's also a great way to get to know someone from another culture and to help someone read. As a writer I find that very rewarding.

I've just learned that I can send my full manuscript to the publisher I've been targeting for MFB and am hard at work tweaking it so I can get it sent. I've set a goal to have it done by Easter, if not sooner. I'll keep you posted as to my progress! Right now I'm on Chapter Five with about thirty to go, give or take, as I may do some rearranging as I go. I'm excited to get this done so I can send it out and also query some agents. Yes!

Friday, March 23, 2007

How ACFW Has Been Good to Me and For Me

My friend and fellow ACFW board member, Cara Putman, talks about American Christian Fiction Writers on her blog this morning. What she wrote prompted me to say a few words about ACFW myself.

I joined ACFW back when it was still called ACRW (the "R" stands for romance). It was a fledgling group of about 100 members at the time, but now, five years later has grown to well over 1000 members writing in a multitude of genres! In spite of its growth, the organization has managed to retain a good sense of community among Christian writers who write fiction.

If I hadn't joined ACFW I don't think my writing would be at the level it is today. ACFW is a cross-section of new, intermediate, and advanced writers. You'll find authors who are well known to people who read Christian fiction and some who are just getting started.

I remember the first national conference in Kansas City like it was yesterday. The lobby of that hotel is probably still reeling from the gaggle of people looking at name tags and hugging like long-lost friends. People were seeing people they'd only known on line for the first time. It was like a high school reunion gone wild LOL. And even today, it's much the same.

Last September after a long day of board meetings, I stepped into our Dallas hotel lobby the night before the official start of our conference. Hugs, laughs, and non-stop conversation was going on in every nook and cranny. I found it hard to work my way through the crowd to the hotel restaurant where we were to resume our meeting over supper.

But, that's not the whole of it. Through the on-line writing workshops, conference workshops, critique groups, and mentoring offered by seasoned writers who unselfishly give of their time, I have grown in my craft. I've learned about revisions and editing from Deb Raney, the ins and outs of writing suspense from Colleen Coble, how to write mystery (yes there is a difference between suspense and mystery) from Karen Weisner, the Snowflake Method from Randy Ingermanson, just to name a few. I'm not trying to name drop by only naming the known writers who have helped me. Critique partners like Lisa Tuttle, Rich Bullock, and Fay Lamb to name several have made a huge difference in my growth as a writer.

I've been honored to be a part of the ACFW board and to have a small role in helping this organization become what it is today. I often receive emails from people who have happened onto the ACFW site asking why they should join. I write back and tell them pretty much what I've just written here. It's fun to see their names show up a few days later on the list of new members and to send them a welcome letter which is one of the fun things I get to do as board secretary.

If you are a Christian who writes and don't belong to ACFW what are you waiting for? If you've not been published in fiction, by joining now you still have time to submit 25 pages to the Genesis writing contest, and if you have a fiction work published by a royalty paying publisher in the past year, you have time to submit your work to the Book of the Year contest. Registration for our National Conference scheduled for the third weekend in September in Dallas opens June 1st. Our keynote speaker is James Scott Bell, and we have a dynamite schedule of continuing sessions and workshops lined up. You can learn more about this one-of-a-kind conference (we only focus on fiction) by heading over to the ACFW website and clicking on the link to the conference page.

I guess you can tell I'm pretty much sold on ACFW. Where else can you get connected to other writers who are striving to write for Him and to be encouraged and taught in the process?

Thursday, March 22, 2007

CFBA Blog Tour This Week: It Happens Every Spring

GARY CHAPMAN is the author of the New York Times best seller The Five Love Languages and numerous othe rbooks. He's the director of Marriage & Family Life Consultants, Inc., and host of A Growing Marriage, a syndicated radio program heard on over 100 stations across North America. He and his wife, Karolyn, live in North Carolina.
CATHERINE PALMER is the Christy Award-winning, CBA best-selling author of more than forty novels--including The Bachelor's Bargain--which have more than 2 million copies in print. She lives in Missouri with her husband, Tim, and two sons.

IT HAPPENS EVERY SPRING is the first of The Four Seasons fiction series, based on the ever-changing cycles of relationships detailed in Gary Chapman's nonfiction book The Four Seasons of Marriage. The novels will focus on four couples, each moving in and out of a different season.

Word travels fast at the Just As I Am beauty shop. So when a simple homeless man appears on Steve and Brenda Hansen's doorstep, the entire shop is set abuzz, especially when Brenda lets him sleep on their porch.

That's not all the neighbors are talking about. Spring may be blooming outdoors, but an icy chill has settled over the Hansens' marriage. Steve is keeping late hours with clients, and the usually upbeat Brenda is feeling the absence of her husband and her college-age kids.Add to that the unsavory business moving in next to the beauty shop and the entire community gets turned upside down.

Now Brenda's friends must unite to pull her out of her rut and keep the unwanted sotre out of town. But can Steve and Brenda learn to thaw their chilly marriage and enjoy the hope spring offers?

Ordering Info:

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Typos -- A Writer's Nitemare

I just had to send out a fancy email to the ACFW membership promoting the sponsorship program for our 2007 conference. I'd been busy all day working on other things, and it was the last item on my to-do list before the week ended. So, I opened up a copy of the HTML email I'd sent before to publishers and agents and did a little tweaking in the narrative. Then I sent it to the ACFW email loop.

A few minutes later I received an email from one of the loop moderators who had withheld the email from the queue. I had a typo. Did I want to correct it and resend? Does Ben make rice? Is the sky blue? Of course I wanted to fix it. I corrected the mistake then resent it.

Then what to my wondering eyes should appear in my email in-box but a copy of the first email I sent. The one with the error!!! I wanted to die. Seems another moderator saw the post and released it before the other woman could delete it. I hate typos, and I hate them worse when they are in something that gets sent out. And I REALLY hate it when the document is sent to other writers!!! But, there it was in all its glory.

After advice from another board member I decided to not say anything because most people wouldn't notice the typo anyway. Well, at least one person noticed because when I turned on my compuer this morning I found an email from someone who pointed out the typo. She was very kind in how she did it, but still I know that if she noticed it and wrote me there are probably others who noticed and didn't write me.

We all make typos--even the most published of authors. So why does it bother me so much? Why do I think it's a reflection on me personally? It's not like everything I send out is loaded with typos. Sometimes when I write this blog, I notice a typo after it's been published on the Web. But with Blogger I can go back and fix it. I get a second chance and a third and fourth, if needed. This time I had no more chances.

What was that word I said God gave me for the year? Oh yeah, "humility." Gulp. I'm learning it big time.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A Little Bit of This and A Little Bit of That

I'm here, just trying to catch up on my life after four days away over last weekend. No work yet on the synopsis. ACFW duties are taking up my time. I have minutes to write and send for three days of meetings, announcements to compose for the members at large, and a new job description for my board position to upload to a permanent file in cyberspace. So for now the WIP sits waiting. Frustrating, but the work I'm needing to do for ACFW is so worth it all.

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance Featured Book This Week is...Ta Da!!

The Reliance
by Mary Lu Tyndall

A YOUNG BRIDE separated from her husband just as a child has been conceived...
A GRIEVING HUSBAND tempted to take his anger out through the vices of his past...
A MARRIAGE AND A SHIP threatenend to be split apart by villainous Caribbean pirates...
In THE RELIANCE, Edmund Merrick tormented by the apparent demise of his pregnant wife Charlisse, sails away to drown his sorrows. He turns his back on God and reverts to a life of villainy, joining forces with the demented French pirate Collier. When his mind clears from its rum-induced haze, will Edmund find the will to escape?
Seemingly abandoned by her new husband, Charlisse battles her own insecurities as she is thrown into the clutches of the vengeful pirate Kent, who holds her and Lady Isabel captive.
Will she be swept away by the undertow of treachery and despair? Can Edmund and Charlisse battle the tempests that threaten to tear them apart and steer their way to the faith-filled haven they so desperately seek? Or will they ultimately lose their love and lives to the whirlpool of treachery and deceit?

M. L. (MARYLU) TYNDALL grew up on the beaches of South Florida loving the sea and the warm tropics. But despite the beauty around her, she always felt an ache in her soul--a longing for something more.
After college, she married and moved to California where she had two children and settled into a job at a local computer company. Although she had done everything the world expected, she was still miserable. She hated her job and her marriage was falling apart.
Still searching for purpose, adventure and true love, she spent her late twenties and early thirties doing all the things the world told her would make her happy, and after years, her children suffered, her second marriage suffered, and she was still miserable.
One day, she picked up her old Bible, dusted it off, and began to read. Somewhere in the middle, God opened her hardened heart to see that He was real, that He still loved her, and that He had a purpose for her life, if she's only give her heart to Him completely.

Ordering Information:

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Board Meetings Are Definitely Not Boring

I'm back from the ACFW board meeting and exhausted! It was a fabulous time of hard work and good fun. The new members bonded so well with the ones still on the board. We cover the range of ages, come from different parts of the country, are at different places with our writing, but we're all of one mind. To make ACFW the best writing organization there is. We accomplished so much in making final decisions for the 2007 ACFW conference. This fall's conference is going to be the greatest one yet for ACFW!

I said in my last entry this would be my last spring meeting as secretary on the board, but after this productive weekend I am wondering if I should run again for secretary. So many positive things are happening for this wonderful organization and I really would like to be involved in helping make them happen with God's help. This is definately something I will have to pray about between now and when nominations open up in the fall.

My body is weary from meetings and talking, talking, and more talking. Not to mention the wonderful dinners out. As Rachael Ray says, Yum-O. Tomorrow it's back to normal and back to the synopsis. For now I think I'll just snooze here on the couch.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Time - Is There Ever Enough?

The old saying goes, "Time flies when you're having fun." I say, "Are we having fun yet?" This week is literally flying by. It's already Wednesday and tomorrow I join the other ACFW board members for our annual Spring meeting. I'll be with them tomorrow through Sunday, and before that I have a to-do list as long as my arm. There are things not on the list I haven't yet done like post the latest info on the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance book of the week. Come to think of it, I missed last week too!

I'm still hard at work on the synopsis of MFB. This by far is the hardest element of the book proposal. Is it too long? Do I keep in too many details? How many details do I need in a mystery synopsis? Can I leave out some of the clues? Egad. I'd also like to get my submission of the first pages to the ACFW Genesis contest before I leave for the meeting. Then there's packing, making sure my cat is taken care of, etc. etc.

To top it off, this coming Sunday is the switch to Daylight Savings time! Even one less hour of sleep when I'll probably be sleep deprived. When I get home Sunday afternoon I'll probably collapse on the couch until Monday morning!

But, I am really looking forward to seeing the other board members and working out details for this year's conference in Dallas. It'll also be bitter-sweet as it will be my last Spring board meeting since my term as Secretary will be over this coming fall. By December 1st I'll once again be a member-at-large. So I go into this weekend, praying for energy to stay alert and take the necessary minutes and to enjoy the fellowship and company of the others. I am so blessed to have been able to serve ACFW in this capacity for almost three years now.

I'll be back next week sharing more about this incredible writer's journey.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

What Was I Thinking?

There have been times I thought I could survive this life without God. Definitely before I turned my life over to Jesus more than twenty years ago, but even after that. Surprised? Well, maybe I haven't thought I could survive totally without God since that eventful Good Friday back in the day when I realized Jesus went to the cross for ME. Until that day I'd always considered what He did as something He did for us corporately. At that moment I suddenly saw what He did for ME personally. I saw my sin and wondered why on earth He would do that for ME? But He did. So why have I, over all these many years, so consistently tried to take back parts of me from Him to do my own thing my way? I honestly don't know, because every time I do it backfires, and I come back to Him on my knees asking for forgiveness and for Him to take all of me back. He always does.

Over the past ten-plus years since I so clearly felt the call of God on my ability to write, I've struggled. When the going is good and I've had something published it's been easy to give all my writing to Him. But, when there are the long dry spells with nary a sale or interest, I've found myself taking the bull by the horns and launching off in a direction God didn't want me to go. Every time, the result has been no sale, lots of disappointment, and having to do a turnabout to head back in the right direction with God in the lead.

Right now I find myself at the precipice of having to trust God for the outcome of my latest project. Without an agent I'm having to present myself to publishers that have shown an interest in my work all by myself. But, am I by myself? No!!! God is with me as the ultimate agent. Twice this week I've heard my favorite Bible teacher, Beth Moore, say "There is no high like the Most High." She's also said twice in two different lessons, "When God says 'no' it's because there is a greater 'yes' waiting to happen. Woooeeee!!

Right now I'm working on my proposal for my story. When I send it out, it will be with a mix of fear and anticipation. But if it comes back with a "No thank you," I know there's a greater "Yes" coming down the road. God is good.