Saturday, April 28, 2007

God's Open Door

In Revelation 3:8 Jesus tells the church at Philadelphia (not the one in PA, but the biblical one), "I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut."

As I draw closer to both the Colorado Christian Writers Conference and completing the tweaks on my manuscript and proposal for sending off to the editor, I find myself leaning on these words and the promise Jesus makes. It would seem God has opened the door wide for me to attend the writing conference this coming month. The initial nudge to consider it, then locating an astounding airfare, followed by getting a roommate. Then just last week I received an email that I've been accepted into the Nangie Clinic, a class of only nine students taught by Angela Hunt and Nancy Rue! This clinic is intensive and takes the place of workshops. Hands-on, I need to bring my laptop and a current WIP. I'll be taking the book of my heart that won't let itself be buried for good. It's gone by many titles, the latest being Shiloh Legacy. I've had no time to work on the new ideas I have for the story because of tweaking my mystery romance, but I trust that in this class I'll learn how to incorporate my new plot ideas and make this thing salable. God willing.

That's the key. God willing. He holds the door open that no one can shut in His due time. The same passage in Revelation says that what He opens no one can shut. When it is His due time for me to publish my stories, it will happen. This I must also cling to when I send off the tweaked manuscript. I told my crit partner the other day that when I mail the manuscript I'll probably be ready to throw up knowing it's out of my hands and on its way. No more chances to redo anything. Gone. She immediately wrote back that I can't forget who is in control.

She's right. What doors God opens no one can shut. Not even an editor :-)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Winner of A Bigger Life is.....

Winter Peck!

Wow, only two people signed up for my drawing of A Bigger Life. A lot read my blog, but I only had two make comments! Why is that? I never, ever turn down a chance at winning a free book! At any rate, having only two names to draw increased the odds of winning this wonderful story. And, I have to say my good buddy Winnie is on a roll. Yep, she's the winner! Congrats, Winnie!!!

I'm going to be posting another contest next week for Kim Sawyer's Bygones. Hot off the press, it's a great story set in a contemporary Mennonite community. More about the story next week.

Monday, April 23, 2007

ACFW Chapter Book Signing and Meeting Was Incredible!

I guess "awesome" is an overly used cliche these days, but I can't think of another way to describe Friday evening. Cyndy Salzman and Judith Miller (seated in same order in photo at right)
joined our own local author Maureen Lang at the Arlington Heights Barnes and Noble store for a book signing. (That's Judy and Maureen talking with a customer in the photo at left).
We followed that with our monthly ACFW chapter meeting. Because of the book signing we attracted several new people. Two who came from having been in the store (one a store employee and the other a customer) and two who came with current members. One already has joined ACFW!

The store was wonderful to the authors. The three women and their books were at tables just inside the main entrance, and a store employee stood there directing them to the tables. Quite a few books were sold. And, I learned something to tuck away to when I am honored to hold my own book signing. You never sit at a signing. You always stand. Note to self: "wear comfortable shoes!."

I'm going to stop talking about it and post more photos of the event!

Here's some of the ACFW Chapter including our author guests. That's Winter Peck in the back row left wearing red. My lovely house guest and ACFW member from two hours away. The woman in red back row right is a guest named Katie. She just happened into the store, stayed for the meeting, and is now considering joining ACFW :-)

Here's Winter and me (always the short one!)

One more of the group. Great way to start a weekend!

Don't forget to scroll down to my review of Annette Smith's "A Bigger Life" and make a comment. You can win this wonderful book for yourself. Drawing is this coming Friday!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Fiction Friday! A Bigger Life by Annette Smith

Somehow the notification that Annette Smith's A Bigger Life was CFBA's book of the week slipped past me. Am I glad I caught it by reading someone else's blog. Why? Because this is a book you don't want to miss at all.

A couple months ago someone on the ACFW loop recommended this read as a great example of writing in the male POV. Sounded intriguing since I'm often told my male characters don't sound like men in their word choices. I hadn't even asked for an influencer copy through CFBA so I went out and bought the book. I wasn't disappointed at all.

Written in first person present, I immediately was drawn into the life of Joel Carpenter. The story description reads:

Joel Carpenter did not plan for his life to turn out like this. He never meant to be a single dad, working at a hair salon in Eden Plain, Texas. But after making a careless choice four years ago, his marriage was permanently shattered. Now at twenty-seven, he finds himself juggling custody of his preschool son with Kari, the ex-wife he still loves, and sharing Sunday dinners with a group of other single dads. Joel regrets the choices that brought him to this place, but it's not until the worst happens that he learns how much he still has to give. In the midst of deep tragedy, he learns that forgiveness is way more important than freedom. Hopefully it's not too late!A BIGGER LIFE is a story of love in the midst of heartache, and friendship in the midst of real, everyday life.

That's a short idea of the storyline. Annette's voice captures so well the way this guy thinks, and the present tense makes you feel as though you are in the story, in the moment, living this life of ups and downs right with Joel. Her treatment of the spiritual thread is one that is subtle but powerful. You are in Joel's thoughts as he considers each baby step he makes toward coming to know God.

Have I whet your appetite? If so, I have a copy of A Bigger Life to give away. Leave a comment to this post and I'll draw a name next Friday.

Here's more about Annette Smith:

In 1997, Annette was working as a home health nurse. She traveled the back roads from house to house, caring for ill and injured, homebound people. Because of her unique position in the lives of relative strangers, she often found herself bearing solitary witness to intimate behind-the-scenes situations full of grace and meaning. The desire to honor both a particular patient and a poignant scene involving the woman and her husband prompted Annette to write a fictionalized story, The Anniversary. That first story appeared as a column in the Houston Chronicle newspaper and as an essay in Today’s Christian Woman magazine. Later it became a chapter in Annette’s first and best-selling book of short stories, The Whispers of Angels, that has sold more than 100,000 copies Since then, Annette has penned four more books of stories, two volumes on parenting, and the Coming Home to Ruby Prairie trilogy. Annette and her husband Randy, a High School teacher and coach, make their home on a wooded lot in Quitman, Texas. They are the parents of two young adult children, Russell and Rachel, both out on their own. Wally, a grateful, rescued mutt provides warmth and entertainment and keeps the Smith’s empty nest from feeling too lonely. In addition to writing, Annette continues to serve part-time as a registered nurse. She finds the people she works with and the patients she cares for provide great inspiration for her fiction.

Don't forget about my drawing! Leave a comment and win this book!

If you don't win, go to Amazon at

You won't be disappointed.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Writing Schedules - What to Do???

Last week I set a deadline to be done with tweaking the full manuscript for MFB and have it completely sent to my crit partners by the end of the week. The bad news is that it didn't happen, but the good news is that I'm only 40 pages from the end. The bad news is that tomorrow I won't have any time at all to work on the manuscript because I'm doing the election judge thing again. The good news is that I'll have Wednesday and Thursday ALL DAY to do the work. The bad news is that I won't have much time on Friday, but the good news about Friday is that my good friend Winnie is coming and the Chicago Northwest ACFW Chapter is hosting a booksigning with Maureen Lang whom I talked about here a short time ago, Judith Miller and Cyndy Salzman.

So that's my week. Now I wonder what will come along to change all of that. Seems that happens a lot!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Fiction Thursday - CFBA Book of the Week

This week I'm very excited to promote Brandilyn Collins and her latest release, Coral Moon, on my site. Brandilyn has long been a mentor to new writers as well as a writer of very scary stories. In fact there are some people who readily admit to not ever reading her stories because of the scary factor. It's all in good fun and they remain good friends LOL.

Brandilyn Collins is the bestselling author of Violet Dawn, Web Of Lies, Dead of Night, Stain of Guilt, Brink of Death, and Eyes of Elisha just to name a few.Brandilyn and her family divide their time between the California Bay Area and Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.She also maintains an informative blog called Forensics and Faith where she daily dispenses wisdom on writing, life, and the Christian book industry.


The figure remained still as stone. Leslie couldn't even detect a breath.Spider fingers teased the back of her neck.Leslie's feet rooted to the pavement. She dropped her gaze to the driveway, seeking...what? Spatters of blood? Footprints? She saw nothing. Honed through her recent coverage of crime scene evidence, the testimony as last month's trial, the reporter in Leslie spewed warnings: Notice everything, touch nothing...
Leslie Brymes hurries out to her car on a typical workday morning...and discovers a dead body inside.Why was the corpse left for her to find? And what is the meaning of the message pinned to its chest?In Coral Moon, the senseless murder of a beloved Kanner Lake citizen spirals the small Idaho town into a terrifying glimpse of spiritual forces beyond our world. What appears true seems impossible.OR IS IT?And as Brandilyn would say...
Presently this Kanner Lake Series of books has its own character blog called Scenes and Beans. Stop by and visit the folks from Kanner Lake!

To order the book go to Amazon.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Winner of Remember Me is Lacy Williams!!

I just drew names from all who commented on my interview with Maureen Lang, author of Remember Me. Lacy Williams is the winner!

Thanks to all who commented. I encourage you to pick up a copy of the book at your local book store or on line. You'll love it!

As soon as Lacy sends me her mailing address I'll get the book off to her.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Time is Running Out!

I've found that being retired without a contracted story it's easy to kind of mosey along on tweaking and revisions, but I can't operate that way. I've got to keep pushing to get this manuscript tweaked, proofed, and tweaked again. Get it put together with my proposal and get it out the door.

Yep, I have other demands on my time. Some I can put off like finishing the redecorating of my kitchen. Others I can't, like ACFW work.

Today and most of this week I'm going to set my own deadline. To get to the end of this manuscript and the chapters sent off to my crit partners for a final go-through. Next week apply their excellent suggestions. Then get the proposal package together the following week and send the thing off to the editor who has asked for it. Sent off with a ton of prayer.

It's hard to slack when no one has asked for it by a certain day, but if I don't keep my nose to the grindstone, slacking a day will turn into a week, and then a month.

The wallpaper is half torn off the kitchen wall, the cabinets cry out for paint, empty drawers in my new cabinets want to be filled, but my story has priority.

Guess I'd better stop blogging and get to writing!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Good Friday Leads to a Glorious Easter!

Yesterday was a special day for me because on a Good Friday around 27 years ago (I can't remember exactly which year) I sat in a church service listening to the biblical account of what occured on the first Good Friday. Suddenly I realized something that totally blew me away. What Jesus did for me that long ago day He did for me right then, died for MY sins and paid the price for MY sins that I could be forgiven. For ME!!! The whole event became very personalized for me and I was humbled right there in that pew. Unfortunately, I didn't realize exactly what had happened at that moment because the church I attended back then didn't hold to a personal faith in Christ for salvation, but rather a you-have-to-earn-you-way-to-heaven philosophy. So, I went home overwhelmed and at the same time overjoyed. That particular weekend I literally lived Jesus' ordeal in my head as if he were going through it again. When Sunday came, I literally leaped out of bed filled with joy because my Lord had risen. He had overcome death's sting for me! Since then I've met countless people who can say that on a specific day they knelt down and prayed to ask Jesus into their hearts, to forgive their sins, and to become Lord of their lives. I cannot pinpoint an exact day I did exactly that, but I know the day it happened. That Good Friday.

I've since moved on to a different church--the one I still attend today. Last night we held a special service of darkness. We had communion, had the same scriptures read to us that I had listened to that long ago Good Friday, sang hymns, and prayed. When we got to the part in our reading where Jesus gave up His spirit and died the church was in complete darkness and after a prayer we left without speaking a word. Quite amazing to see about 700 people walking out without the usual chit-chat that goes on. As I drove home a man on the radio was describing what Christ endured with the crucifixion. I'm not going to go into details here, but it wasn't an easy way to die. The description drove home to me even more what He did for ME. I reacted much the same way I had 27 years ago. I was humbled.

But that's not the end of the story. On the third day several women went to Jesus' tomb expecting to attend to his remains. But what they found wasn't a decaying body. No way! All they saw was the empty shroud that had once wrapped Jesus' body. The tomb had been guarded all night and still he wasn't there! A short while later Jesus appeared to one of the women and then to his disciples. Over the next several weeks many people saw his risen body--spoke to Him, saw Him eat, and believed where once before they doubted.

Want to read it for yourself? Go to Matthew and read chapters 26-28.

He is risen! He is risen indeed!
Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Interview with Maureen Lang--Author of Remember Me

I have just finished reading my friend Maureen Lang's latest release called "Remember Me." From the moment I started reading I was caught up in this story which is set in World War I time. I'm not a huge historical reader, but Maureen's story has converted me!
I was especially impressed with the amount of research she must have done before typing one word into the manuscript. As a writer I can appreciate the amount of detail and knowledge Maureen had to have gained to make this story as accurate to the time as possible.

I had so many questions in my mind regarding her research techniques I decided to post her answers here for everyone else to see.
Also, I had so much fun giving away Deb Raney's book a few weeks ago, I'm here to do it again. Leave a comment and on April 11th (next Wednesday), I'll draw a name to win a copy of "Remember Me."

Thanks, Maureen, for taking the time to answer these research questions that I know will be of help to many writers and even be of interest to readers who like to know how a story comes together.

1. What prompted you to write about WWI and from the angle you chose?

The First World War time period fascinates me! I love historicals, but this period has a touch of contemporary thrown in which adds a slight touch of nostalgia. Not that I remember this time period, but when I see buildings that were around during this time, or pictures from that era, it comes to life more vividly for me than something really ancient.

As far as the angle – I’m of German descent and married to a man of German descent as well, so I guess I stuck with the old adage about writing what I know.

2. I am in awe of the research that must have gone into the writing of this book and its predecessor. Can you tell me how you approached it? Did you mainly use the Internet, the library, peoples’ first hand accounts?

I did almost all of my research from books. I love to read, so it’s an enjoyable way to spend my time. I have a number of books on my shelf from this time period, but one of my favorite things to do is try and get my hands on many of the reference books listed in bibliographies of favorite books. I keep my local reference librarians busy when I’m researching a book! I do use the Internet, but don’t tend to trust it completely because there aren’t as many checks and balances in that avenue. With a published work, particularly from a historian, it’s subject to peer scrutiny so if it passes all of that I figure it’s more reliable.

3. How did you go about researching that period of time? How things worked such as cranking up the car before starting it and how it needed to be started within a certain amount of time or you’d have to crank it again?

I’m fortunate to have an antique auto museum not far from my house, and they were helpful in answering some of my questions about how cars worked at that time. I love it when books add little details that pertain to the time, details that have something to do with the characters and their lives – it deepens the texture of the work and adds to the author’s credibility.

4. What are some measures you take to be sure you don’t have them using something that hasn’t yet been invented?

I think it’s important to be careful about this sort of thing, because chances are someone out there will notice if I have my characters using something that had yet to be invented! Besides the typical library books, I love finding old magazines, such as at an antique or hobby show, and study the advertisements. From that I’ll know what sort of household items were in use, how much it cost, what the various uses would have been.

With word usage, I have a dated entry dictionary which I constantly refer to. Recently I wanted to use the word “nappy” for a baby diaper in England, but I had to cut it because the word wasn’t in use at the time of my Victorian setting.

5. Your story covers a lot of terrain so to speak. Was it difficult to write about the war front? How did you learn to write about the actual battles so realistically?

I have to smile over this question. In my first draft, my editor’s comment was “this is a much kinder and gentler war than the one I’ve heard of…” I was so blessed to have a wise, insightful and male editor with this book – someone who made me leave behind my tendency to go soft on things I’d rather not think about. Plus, I’ve seen enough war movies to get a feel for things without (thankfully!) having lived through a battle.

6. A unique aspect of the time that I wasn’t aware of was the influenza outbreak where public buildings were ordered closed, including courthouses and churches. Did you first learn of this and decide to include it in your story and wrote the plot to that effect or was it something that you had to bring in after the story was written.

That was actually one of the most fascinating parts of my research. Even though I’d done a fair amount of reading about the time period, I was only somewhat aware of a great influenza epidemic. I didn’t realize until I was well into writing the story that the epidemic would play a major part, so I did more research at that point, specific to the epidemic. I was shocked to learn how widespread this virus was, and wondered why it’s not a bigger part of the history we learned about in school. More people died of influenza than in all four years of the war. The virus attacked people in the prime of their life – late teens, early twenties. I found it so interesting that a virus of that nature seemed to single out people of the age most soldiers would have been. Without it, I wonder if the war would have lasted even longer.

7. What tips can you provide other writers for doing research for historicals that occur in the 1900s forward? What resources would you suggest?

I always start at my library. When I find a book that details everyday life of that time period, or some other aspect of the time period I’m interested in, I see if the book is written in a style that engages me. Many history books are dry, but others are very engaging. It’s those I tend to study, and then check out the bibliography for more titles this author used. Chances are those are to my taste as well. I love reference librarians! They like looking for books on little-known topics or specific eras, and they always come through for me.

8. Are there any plans for a sequel? You have a lot of characters around which you could build another story such as Penny.

Funny you should mention Penny – when I was writing one of the scenes with her interacting with Josef’s young lawyer, I thought I saw sparks flying and wanted to investigate that. Unfortunately, time constraints and other demands took precedence so I didn’t go into it any farther than that. But who knows? I almost never say never…

Maureen will be signing "Remember Me" at the Arlington Heights, IL Barnes & Noble located in the Annex II shopping center at Arlington Heights and Rand Roads from 5-7, on April 20th. She will be signing with authors Cyndy Salzman and Judith Miller. If you live in the area, please stop by and say hello!

Don't forget to leave a comment. I'll be drawing a name on April 11th! And if you don't win your very own copy here, you can order Maureen's book by going to Amazon.