Monday, July 30, 2007

Active Writing Vs. Passive

Friday morning I was in the final stretch to the finish line, printing chapters as I tweaked them. The ribbon stretched across the running track was in my sights. Then a writing friend to whom I'd sent my first two scenes wrote me. The horn sounded. I had to reverse my direction, make a pit stop. Little bits of telling and passive phrasing still resonated in the scenes. Phrases like "he watched . . ." Phrases we see often in books that are published, but it forces the reader out of the character's head and onto the sidelines, watching the character while he watches whatever. Instead of saying "as he watched the waves...," end the preceeding clause with a period. Start a new sentence that says, "The waves lapped at the shoreline." Much better. Gets the reader into the moment.

So, I'm in my pitstop right now, tweaking the first three chapters. Then I'll be cruising through the chapters I'd already gone through and printed before my friend's note came. I'm still hoping to mail this puppy out tomorrow, but realistically I may not make it until Wednesday. That afternoon I'm scheduled to have my picture taken for the church directory. If I've mailed the manuscript you can imagine the big smile I'll be flashing at the camera! But, the bottom line is this: I won't be mailing the manuscript anywhere until it's good and ready. A good story, told the best way possible in a way that honors God. After all, He's my editor, publisher and agent!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

CFBA Blog Tour - To Dance in the Desert

Today at about 5:15 p.m. I finally finished my read-through of the hard copy draft of the manuscript and I'm dancing a small Snoopy dance. I got the word count down to 60,055. The word count max is 60,0o0 for this publisher so 55 words is no biggie! I'm moving closer to getting this puppy out the door.

Now I can take a breather and announce this week's Christian Fiction Blog Alliance Book of the Week:

(RiverOak, May 1, 2007)
Kathleen Popa

Raised in the American Southwest, Kathleen began her love affair with the desert as a child. Before becoming a writer she, among other jobs, worked in both the juvenile facility fro incarcerated girls and a home for emotionally disturved children. Mother of two, sh lives in Northern California with her husband and youngest son. Visit her blog, Reading, Writing, and What Else is There? She is a member of the CFBA, too! Give her a holler!

"Not a safe world.” How many times had she heard it over and over again? Well, it is not a safe world and Dara Murphy Brogan knew it better than most, which is exactly why she had tucked herself away on a desert mountaintop. Now it was just her, the voice inside her head and the boxes of hastily packed odds and ends—all that was left of her pathetic excuse of a life. Hadn’t she chosen the desert because it was barren and brown and dead looking and far, far away from anyone who may have seen the news?So what was this, this trespasser, this interloper, this wacked out earth mother doing dancing outside her window? Celebrating life and the Spirit in a way Dara never could have dreamed. Until she opened her door and met Jane Cameron.
A book that makes me laugh is a joy, a book that makes me cry is a rarity. But a book that moves me to dance is sublime. To Dance in the Desert is a spectacular experience. Beautifully written, deeply moving, and warmly engaging—that this is Kathleen Popa’s first novel astounds me. That she will quickly be counted among the top caliber of Christian novelists delights me. I simply loved this book.
~Kathryn Mackel, Author of The Hidden

Kathleen Popa creates a compelling vision of a small community’s power to coax waning spirits back toward life. This gem of a novel worked on me like a dream. Popa’s evocative prose captured the nuance and complexity of transformation with equal parts mystery and truth. She conjures the deserts of Dara Brogan’s life with intimate clarity, reminding us along the way of the profound strength of what we take far too much for granted—the deep friendship of kindred spirits. This is a journey worth taking.
~Jeff Berryman, Author of Leaving Ruin

Buy it at Amazon!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Eric Wilson Blog Tour!

This week, author, Eric Wilson, is having a blog tour and he's stopping by A Writer's Journey. Well, Eric's not here in person actually, but information about his latest book is here:

A Shred of Truth


Eric Wilson

About the Book:
Eric Wilson returns with another sharp-edged thriller that will appeal to the rising generation of men and women on the fringes of faith.
In The Best of Evil, Aramis Black uncovered family secrets and historical conspiracies, hoping that
his own dark past had come to certain resolution. But now, in A Shred of Truth, he finds his brother unconscious and tied to a statue in downtown Nashville with the initials AX carved into his back.
A shadow from his former life has reappeared, casting threats of violence and retribution. And soon the attacker is swinging his blade of self-righteous judgment directly at Aramis, challenging him to “face his sins.” Can Aramis finally break free from the guilt of his old ways, or will he succumb to the vengeance of an arrogant sociopath?
Aramis Black’s latest breathtaking adventure will lead readers to discover the resolve of true friends, the depths of family love, and the breadth of God’s forgiveness.

About the Author:
Eric Wilson is the author of Dark to Mortal Eyes, Expiration Date, and the first book in the Aramis Black series, The Best of Evil. He lives with his wife, Carolyn Rose, and their two daughters in Nashville, Tennessee. Visit him at

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I've Been Tagged (or Whining Will Get You Something Sometimes)

Yesterday my friend Crystal (see yesterday's post) and I finished up reading through my manuscript. So, while I was printing out a fast draft of the story on paper for a last purusal I cruised through my friends' blogs. I found out that a new blog tag game had started and they'd all been playing it without me. Was it something I said? I asked, and this morning I woke up to being tagged. So now I have to sit here and answer questions LOL.

Didn't they know I just wanted to be tagged, not have to really answer the questions? So here we go.

1. What's the one book or writing project you haven't yet written but still
hope to?

The book of my heart which has been written at least three or four times so far. Today I have new ideas for the story and really want to write it. It's a women's fiction that is currently titled "Shiloh Legacy." People are intrigued by the plot which is always encouraging. It was the first novel I ever wrote and it's been rejected a lot because it was really my learning novel. I started out not knowing a lot about the nuances of writing a story and each time I've graduated to a new level, I've redone the story. It's due for another go-around.

2. If you had one entire day in which to do nothing but read, what book
would you start with?

It wouldn't be Harry Potter! I've never gotten into those books. My to-be-read pile is sky-high. If I had a book to read over again I might say Gone With the Wind or Eugenia Price's Savannah Series. Funny, I would say those because I'm not usually an historical reader. Wait! Isn't there a question coming up about historicals??? If it were out, I'd probably pick out the next Yada Yada Prayer Group book. Like Harry Potter, this is the last of seven book in a series by Neta Jackson. I adore these books. They're set in the Chicago area which makes it fun for me, but it's more than that. Neta doesn't live far from me and I've thought about finding out where she lives and driving over there and forcing her to write the 8th book. LOL

3. What was your first writing "instrument" (besides pen and paper)?

I'd have to say my brain. I had tons of paper dolls when I was a kid and I would sit for hours making up stories for my dolls. That was my first foray into imagining storylines for my characters. I wonder if that would work today. I could make up paper dolls for my characters and have them act out the scenes.

4. What's your best guess as to how many books you read in a month?

I haven't been getting through as many books as I'd like because I've been on this sorta, kinda deadline to get the manuscript back to the editor. Right now maybe two. Normally maybe four.

5. What's your most favorite writing "machine" you've ever owned?

I'm on my second laptop and I will never have a P/C. I love the independence laptops give me. Last week for a while I was tethered to my cable modem because my wireless broke down. It made me appreciate the freedom of a laptop.

6. Think historical fiction: what's your favorite time period in which to
read? (And if you don't read historical fiction--shame on you.)

I would have to say 1800s and forward. I really enjoyed Maureen Lang's Remember Me which was WWI and I like WWII era stuff too.

7. What's the one book you remember most clearly from your youth (childhood
or teens)?

I devoured Nancy Drew books and later, Trixie Belden. In fact I have copies of some of those books on my shelves. Not the actual ones I read but ones I've picked up on Ebay. Another book I read when I was a teen was Geneva Summer. It was the first romance I ever read and it was set in the Lake Geneva, WI area where I grew up. That book is not available anywhere. I've searched high and low on the Internet and it's all but disappeared. I did stop in the Lake Geneva library a year or so ago and they still have the copy I read at least three or four times. They keep it under lock and key! So I sat there next to the locked case and flipped through the book, reliving the story. Then the librarian locked it up again. I wonder if any of my stories will ever be so honored as to be kept under lock and key.

So there you have it. I've been tagged and now I tag my buds: Winter, Peg, Sally, and Donna.

Have Fun~

Friday, July 20, 2007

Crystal--My New Best Friend

I've made a new friend this week and her name is Crystal. I have no idea what she looks like, but being the author that I am, I can't help but visualize her. I picture her with long dark hair and big luminous eyes with eyelashes to die for. She dresses with flair and enjoys reading--specially my books :-). The only thing against her is that she speaks without much inflection in her voice except for maybe when a question is posed. Also, she doesn't pronounce words like latte, or boardroom, or nice correctly. She says lat, bo-ord room, and neese. I'll concede on latte. After all, that's French, and if you've never heard the word said, how would you know how to pronounce it.

In case you haven't guessed it, Crystal is the voice in a software program I downloaded this week from Natural Reader. Crystal has been reading my revised chapters back to me, and it's amazing what hearing your writing read out loud does. Because of her somewhat monotone style, I pick up words that are left out when my reading eye automatically fills them in. Also, every time a word is mispronounced, I have to go look at it to make sure I didn't misspell it.

Crystal and I are about 2/3 of the way through Murder for Breakfast and I can't be happier. Maybe when this is all over, I'll take her out for dinner. She deserves a treat!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

CFBA Blog Tour: One Step Over the Border by Stephen Bly

The CFBA blog tour this week features One Step Over the Border by Stephen Bly. I haven't finished reading this book as yet, but what I've read so far has really captured my interest. If you like things western and some quirky fun you won't want to miss this book!


Stephen Bly is a pastor, a mayor, an antique Winchester gun collector and a writer.He's mayor of a town of 308 in the mountains of Idaho, on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. In his spare time, he pursues the three R's of ridin', ropin' and rodeo...and construction of Broken Arrow Crossing, a false-front western village near his home.That keeps him very western. And he collect old Winchester rifles, which reflects his love of historical accuracy. He's also a fan of Jimmy Buffet music.Stephen says about his writing, "I write about the West (historic or modern) from the inside. Born and raised on western ranches, I have both the heart and mind to describe things as they really were...and are. There are those who think the frontier has long passed and with it the ‘code of the west.’ The truth is, both are still around...and it’s fun to show that in a contemporary story. The West is so big, so diverse, so enchanting it’s a thrill to write about it in any era."Stephen is the author of ninety-five books and hundreds of articles.


It’s a romp...
A road adventure...
It’s a buddy story with romantic comedy!!Some call it CowboyLit. Rodeo cowboy Hap Bowman’s on a search for Juanita, the gal of his dreams, whom he hasn’t seen in 18 years. He seems stuck on 12-years-old and the enchanting girl he met then."An idiot obsession," his roping partner, Laramie Majors, chides.But Laramie agrees to a final summer’s trek along the Rio Grande. If they don’t find Juanita during those months, Hap promises to drop the idea of the hunt for the mystery senorita. But if they find her, will she feel the same as Hap does about their years ago interlude?

In One Step Over The Border the time tested values of cowboys rub up against contemporary mores. It’s a crazy story that becomes more logical as the reader delves deeper into it. It will make you laugh and shed a tear or two.Getting back to Hap’s pursuit . . . don’t we all have someone in the past, that we knew for only a short while, that we wish we could have known better, longer? Stephen Bly has!. So when Hap and Laramie ventured out on a quest for Hap’s Juanita, Stephen decided to invite others to go along too. Folks have been e-mailing Hap and asking for their own “Juanita Search Kits.” They get a bumper sticker, magnet, bookmark, stickers, flyers, etc. It’s a whole packet of material that will equip anyone to join the fun of finding the Juanita with “the mark of God.” If they send Hap a picture of the places where they stuck their Juanita signs, they’ll receive a free copy of the book. It’s all there on the website at

And there’s a very special feature on more adventures about Hap and Laramie that did NOT appear in the book, can be found on AmazonShorts in the story entitled, Aim Low, Shoot High.

Buy it at Amazon!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Can't Stop Smiling!

I finally finished the first run-through after converting my manuscript from first person to third person! Yahoo!!! Still need to get the crits back on the last several chapters and scan the entire document on my own, but the major work is almost done. That brings a smile to my face.

After I got that done I decided to attack the router problem one more time. This time, being less frazzled I reread the directions for the new device and realized I'd not hooked up the cables right the other day. This time it worked like a charm and I have wireless connection again. I called Comcast and canceled tomorrow's appointment. That was worth another smile.

Now my living room is back in order and I can move on to some ACFW business I need to tackle. I'm still smiling.

It's a good day and it's only half over. Hope yours is good too!
Did you know it takes more muscles to frown than to smile?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Computers - It's a Love/Hate Relationship

This afternoon became a total waste because of computer woes. I returned from lunch with friends and downloaded my email. Then I checked a couple websites out, got ready to go to work, and boom! Just like that . . . I lost all Internet connection. After troubleshooting an hour on the phone with Comcast, we deduced the problem was with my router. So I went out and bought a new router. Thankfully since I bought the first one they aren't as expensive. I started installing it and the installation program said no router was connected to the machine. Wrong. But now when I went back to connect the cable modem to laptop I couldn't do that either. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

After another phone call to Comcast and more fiddling around trying to get the Comcast server to reassign my I.P. number to my computer, we decided it was time for a technician to come out. I have a feeling there's a problem with the cable modem. At least I hope that's where the problem is. If so, I don't get charged for the service call. If it's a problem with my router then I pay.

Meanwhile, I'm plugged directly into the modem and confined to a corner of my living room. Just like the old days when I had a PC in a corner of my bedroom. We get so spoiled with all this technology don't we? And to think a little more than ten years ago the Internet was a whole new thing and dial-up modems took forever to download even a sign-in screen to get on your email account.

Tomorrow's another day.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

CFBA Blog Tour - Take Two!

(Bethany House, July 1, 2007)
Robin Parrish
The second featured book this week from Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is Fearless!


Robin Parrish had two great ambitions in his life: to have a family, and to be a published novelist.
In March of 2005, he proposed to his future wife the same week he signed his first book contract.Born Michael Robin Parrish on October 13, 1975, Robin's earliest writing efforts took place on a plastic, toy typewriter, and resulted in several "books" (most between 10 and 30 pages long) and even a few magazines.
By the age of thirteen, he had begun winning local writing awards and became a regular in his high school's literary magazine. In college, he garnered acclaim from his English professors and fellow students while maturing and honing his skills.
After college, he entered the writing profession through a "side door" -- the Internet. More than ten years he spent writing for various websites, including,, and his current project Infuze Magazine, which is a unique intersection between art and faith which he also conceived of and created.
One of his more "high concept" ideas for Infuze was to return to his love for storytelling and create a serialized tale that would play out every two weeks, telling a complete, compelling story over the course of nine months. That serialized story eventually came to the attention of several publishers, who saw it as a potential debut novel for Robin Parrish.
In 2005, Bethany House Publishers brought Robin full circle by contracting him for the rights to not only that first book, Relentless -- but two sequels. A trilogy, to unfold in the consecutive summers of 2006, 2007, and 2008. One massive tale -- of which that first, original story would form only the foundational first volume of the three -- spread across three books.
Robin is the Editor in Chief and creator of Infuze Magazine. He and his wife Karen reside in High Point, North Carolina. Karen works for High Point's First Wesleyan Church, where Robin and Karen are members and Small Group leaders.


Book Two of the Dominion Trilogy:The world changed after that terrible day when the sky burned, and now every heart is gripped by fear...Earthquakes, fire, disease, and floods pummel the earth, and its citizens watch in horror.
But in the darkness there is hope -- an anonymous but powerful hero whom the public dubs "Guardian." He is Grant Borrows, one of a chosen few who walk the earth with extraordinary powers. But while Grant enjoys this new life, signs of a dangerous ancient prophecy begin coming true, and those closest to Grant worry he may be hiding a terrible secret.A search for answers brings Grant and his friends to London, where an extraordinary discovery awaits that will challenge everything they thought they knew. With a deadly new enemy dogging his steps, Grant realizes that the world's only hope may come from unraveling the truth about himself once and for all. But what he comes face-to-face with leaves even this most powerful of men shaken with fear.Secrets will be revealed.Friends will make the ultimate sacrifice.And destiny will not be denied.The story continues...
Buy it at Amazon!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sweatin' and Soakin' It In

I went out to walk this morning before eight o'clock and it was already so humid it felt like I was slogging through a soaked sponge. I'm determined to not stop walking, same as I'm determined to not give up on this manuscript getting done before too long.

ICRS (International Christian Retailers Show) is currently going on in Atlanta and a lot of publishers are there, and after that comes more writing conferences a lot of editors will be attending. I want my new and improved manuscript on the editor's desk as soon as she gets back home.

So as I walked, I listened to an audio book, noticing the interesting ways in which the author describes things and wishing I'd not forgotten my notebook. And I dripped...walked...dripped. By the time I got home my clothes were soaked, and I had soaked in more ideas to jazz up my story. I never copy. That's a no-no. I just use the phrases as stepping off points to create my own expressions.

Now I'm ready to sit down and write , letting what I soaked in pour out on the page...or should I say computer screen? Whatever.

Monday, July 09, 2007

A Two-For-One Week: CFBA Novel #1 is Wedding Bell Blues by Linda Windsor!

Wedding Bell Blues
(Avon Inspire 2007)


Linda, a native of Maryland's Eastern Shore, is the author of eighteen historical novels and nine contemporary romances for both the secular and Christian market. A Christy Award finalist, Linda has received numerous awards in both the ABA and CBA, including the Romantic Writers of America's Beacon Award. She lives in Salisbury, Maryland. Learn more!

Wedding Bell Blues is the first in a new series, The Piper Cove Chronicles, that follows four women who grew up as best friends in a small community on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. They have returned home from their successes and failures at college and life, determined to pursue their dreams in the town they'd once vowed to leave in the dust. True love has eluded the four friends until one by one they encounter their soul mate. Next in the series is FOR PETE'S SAKE, on sale from Avon Inspire in April 2008.Alex Butler is a successful home decorator who hopes she has finally gotten her life together. But when Josh Turner, the man who ran away and broke her heart sixteen years ago, returns to Piper Cove to be the best man in her sister's wedding, Alex can't escape the butterflies in her stomach. But Alex has no time for distractions. Her family has enlisted her to make this the wedding of the century. To pull the event off, she pools the talents of her three best friends - Jan, who creates desserts to-die-for will help with the cake and catering, tomboy Ellen, who works at a landscaping business will handle the flowers and decorations, and Sue Ann, who can…well, Suzie Q can give Alex a much-needed reality check in the course of the wedding planning chaos.But fate won't be stopped in this small town as Alex and Josh keep running into each other at every turn. When sparks fly, Alex soon finds herself caught in a paralyzing battle of the heart between her old-fashioned Southern father, who fiercely resents Josh for breaking his little girl's heart, and her feelings for the one man she ever truly loved.
As the wedding approaches, the Butler family faces a threat to their reputation that will shake this Chesapeake clan to their very core. In the midst of it all, can Alex and Josh resist the many forces that seem to be drawing them together?
Buy it at Amazon!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Nothing Prayer Can't Handle

It's me, it's me, it's me Oh Lord, standin' in the need of prayer . . .

That's how the old Negro spiritual goes and that's what I've been singing the past several days. That wall I talked about earlier has crumbled into rubble, and the reason why is . . .

I prayed!

I've always prayed for my writing but now I'm praying every time I sit down to write. I tell God this is His story and I can't do it on my own. I tell Him that I need Him every time my fingers hit the keys.

I've got my groove back, and it's not because I did anything. God did it all.

I've rewritten those parts that gave me such fits and have received positive feedback.

Now it's on to the finish line :-)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

CFBA Blog Tour of the Week: Task Force Valor


>Chuck served four years in the Elite 75th Ranger Regiment–the same unit profiled in the movie “Black Hawk Down.” Chuck saw combat in Panama in 1989. After leaving active duty, Chuck flew helicopters in the Wisconsin National Guard while attending the University of Wisconsin.In 2004, after ten years as a stockbroker, Chuck left that profession to pursue full-time writing. At the same time, he began working as the "Adventure Correspondent" for CBN.He is the author of five books, including A More Elite Soldier, Bulletproof, andAllah's Fire, the first of three books in the Task Force Valor series.Today, Chuck, Connie, and their five children live on a farm in Appalachia, where Chuck now pursues his varied interests of farming, writing, adventure travel and public speaking, among other things.


EXPLOSIVE ORDINANCE DISPOSAL--THE BOMB SQUADAs the global war on terror heats up, the U.S. deploys a team of highly trained special operators overseas to locate and >neutralize threats, bringing EOD expertise to dangerous missions that have no room for error.A DEADLY EXPLOSIONA new specialty explosive is on the black market: ITEB looks like water, but when it's exposed to air, the effects are lethal! The United States government is frantic to keep it from our shores. Staff Sergeant Euripides "Rip" Rubio knows how destructive ITEB can be. He has already risked his life to thwart a horrific terrorist plot involving the chemical. Now Task Force Valor heads to Panama, on the trail of an arms dealer who plans to use ITEB to make a killing...literally.AN ADVENTURE ABROADFernanda Lerida is a University of Florida grad student who jumps at the chance to join a biological expedition to a mysterious former prison island. But the snakes, bugs, and crocodiles are soon the least of her worries as the group stumbles upon something they were not meant to see. To Make matters worse, Fernanda soon finds herself alone and being pursued by an unseen foe.A RISKY RESCUEWhen Rip's path collides with Fernanda's, they find themselves caught in the midst of a brutal turf war. Can they use the chaos to their advantage, or will one false step set the entire island ablaze?
"Island Inferno is a boy-meets-girl story. But in Chuck Holton's world, boy meets girl in the middle of a jungle at 25mph. hanging under a parachute with an assault rifle strapped across his chest. You'd better plan on reading this in one sitting. And once you're done, you'd better give yourself time for your pulse to calm down."----TOM MORRISEY, Author of Deep Blue, and Dark Fathom

Buy it at Amazon!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A Pause to Remember

This morning I headed out for my daily walk. In the distance I heard sirens and was reminded that the suburb my own town is adjacent to was having their annual Fourth of July parade, an easy walking distance away. I made a detour.

At the end of a street I came to kids, adults and dogs watching and waiting for the goodies. It's like trick or treat for the kids minus the costumes. Candy gets tossed from passing parade participants and the children go running. They even toss dog treats. I stood next to a nice woman and her Australian Sheepdog appropriately named Sydney. Even Sydney knew she would likely get treats today. It was a small parade. All the marching bands had opted to perform in bigger ones so there was only occasional recorded music. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, vintage cars, and then came a flatbed truck carrying a Marine, a Soldier, a Navy man. I started to applaud as did a few of the adults. Not enough in my opinion. The whole time we were applauding the kids kept scrambling for bits of penny candy like they were free passes to Six Flags. That bothered me, but I kept quiet.

No matter your feelings about the U.S.'s current role in the Middle East, these men deserve our thanks. I always make it a policy when I see someone in uniform to thank them. They need encouragement as much as we do. I lived through the Viet Nam era when returning soldiers and marines were treated like dirt because the war was so distasteful. Most of those men had been drafted and had no choice but to go. This time we have no draft yet men and women choose to go. They deserve to be thanked.

I am so blessed to have been born in the U.S.A.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Proverbial Wall

Yep...I hit the wall. Hard. A wall that felt like this picture. Insurmountable, solid.

"I can't do this, God!"

I must have said it a dozen times. "I can't get into the hero's head. I can't get him right!"

What did God say to me?

"Oh, yes you can. You can do this. I gave you the ability to do this and you

So I picked myself up and dusted myself off, talked to my CP about it a bit and got a new direction. Not a big one, just a slight switch in characterization and plot and it freed me up. I had been trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

I think I'll be okay now because God is in this with me. Always has been. I missed the July 1 self-imposed deadline, but that's okay.

God is good. Tomorrow I won't encounter a wall, but a door. See, the door is still in the wall, but I just couldn't see it Friday afternoon. Isn't that like everything we encounter when we try to do it on our own steam? God is there, waiting for us to ask Him for help, yet we're so stubborn.