Friday, April 18, 2008

Writing the Breakout Novel

Where have I been these days? Obviously not writing many blog posts. Not even promoting books of other authors through CFBA. They've been featuring a lot of great books the past couple weeks, but I reached a point of overload in all aspects of my life, and I had to take a step back and take a deep breath. I'll get my groove back soon in that department!

I'd started on my new WIP a couple weeks ago with a first draft. Then, while walking, I started listening to the MP3's from last September's ACFW conference. For the first time I decided to buy the entire set, and I have been learning so much from each of the continuing classes I've listened to so far.

This past week I started listening to Tricia Goyer's class on historical writing. At first I wasn't going to listen since I don't write historical, but am I glad I did. There's something there for all writers. Tricia talked about how she uses Donald Maas's "Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook" before she writes one word of a new book on her computer. When I heard that a light bulb went on in my head. I have that workbook! It's the same one Nancy Rue and Angie Hunt talked about at the writing clinic I sat in last year in Colorado. They, too, use this book. Could all these well-published authors be wrong? I think not.

I stopped writing the draft which is about a third done, give or take, and dug out the book. It's divided into sections that can be used before you write, during your first draft writing, or after the first draft is complete. Right now, I'm in the characterization phase, and next comes plot development, and then story techniques. Already I have new ideas to deepen the makeup of my characters, increase their inner conflicts, and punch up the story another notch or two.

Tricia is a prolific writer of stories set in World War II, an era I'm being more and more drawn to for reading, and she's got me thirsty to read some of her books. Pictured here is one of her books. The premise sounds intriguing. Here's a blurb from one of the on-line stores I frequent for books:

A love story between a beautiful member of the Austrian resistance and the American soldier who loves her is told against the true story of the orchestra started by prisoners in Hitler`s Mauthausen death camp, who played the American national anthem.

Now that I know how Tricia researches and develops her storyline, I'm very anxious to read one of her finished products!

If you're a novelist and haven't yet looked at Maas's workbook, I encourage you to do it now. His book, "Writing the Breakout Novel," has been referred to for years as one of THE books every novelist should have on their bookshelf as a keeper. The workbook is where you but hands to the wheel and begin to drive.

Over the next several weeks I plan to share tidbits of what I've been learning through this process.

I'm going to spend the entire day going through more exercises. It's not something you can speed through, yet I'm so anxious to start writing the story again, I can't stand it.

That can only be a good sign!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rejection - An Author's Worst Fear

Today on her blog, Robin Lee Hatcher has a video clip that I found hilarious featuring a guy reacting to a publisher's rejection of his book manuscript. I don't smoke and rarely drink wine, but it so clearly depicts the way I felt last summer when I received a manuscript back in the mail that I'd slaved over for two months, changing it from first person POV to third. Of course there was no promise from the editor that once it was switched over they would buy the book, but hope springs eternal. :-)

Of course, once the truth sinks in that the story has been rejected, you move on. There's always another publisher who just might like the story, and there's always another book in your heart just waiting to make it's way onto the computer.

And one day, God willing, THE call will come. Until then, I keep on keeping on. Above All Else is progressing nicely through the first draft.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Winner of Leaving November is . . .

Ta Da!!!!

Luv2Read !!!!!!!

As soon as I receive mailing instructions I will get the book off to the winner.

Thanks to all who left comments.

I'll be having another contest soon.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Above All Else -- My New Work In Progress

A writer's journey is filled with many roads one must choose. One of the side roads I often take is Article Avenue. Writing articles for publication goes much faster than writing fiction for publication, and that means money in my pocket. Very welcome when one is on a retirement income! Last week I sold an article! I hesitate to publish the details until I get the contract, but you can imagine my Snoopy dance the day I got the news :-).

For me the main highway I travel is Story Street. I love telling stories. Developing stories and writing them is what truly brings joy to my heart. I love it when the story seems to flow from my fingertips onto the keyboard without any effort. It's like watching a movie. I sometimes stare at the computer screen and ask, "Where did that come from?" Of course, I know the answer. God. He gave me the talent to write and it is to honor Him that I write. God created me, all of me, including my DNA, and he put the desire into my heart to write as well as the ability.

I realized this weekend that much of what drives me to write is in my DNA. I came across copies of letters my dad had typed on an old manual typewriter to various friends in the decade or two before he passed away. He died before email became the norm, but I'm sure if he'd been born ten or twenty years later he'd have taken to it like a duck to water. He loved writing chatty and informative letters, and he loved keeping a copy of them. That may have been all he wrote in his lifetime, but the drive was there. And before him, his mom felt driven to keep a written account of her life during 1899 and 1900. I still have that little journal of hers that documents the time she was courted by my grandfather. Priceless. And before that, my great-grandfather (her father) was a creative man in his own right. An inventor and photographer. And before that, a first cousin of his father. George Bancroft, besides being first Secretary of the Navy was a writer. His American history volumes are actually in my local library! That's George over there on the right. Great beard!

But I digress . . .

I derived the title of my new story from Matthew 6:33:

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Porter Wyatt grew up never knowing if there would be food on the table and wearing second-hand clothing. Never would she live that way as an adult. Newly graduated from law school she's on her way to achieving that goal with a job in a large corporate law firm and a new 401K to assure her financial security. Then her uncle, a country lawyer, calls and everything screeches to a halt. He needs her help.

Graham Sullivan only wants to live a simple life unfettered from the evil his family's wealth has created in his brother. An evil that is growing like a cancer. Cutting ties seems the only way for Sully achieve this goal. He wants nothing to do with the family business or its money. Sully wants only to use the skills God has given him to be a master woodworker and live on what he earns.

What happens when these two polar opposites' lives collide and how does God work through both of them to help the other?

And I'm excited to see the story unfold, and the characters reveal to me who they are. Their likes and dislikes, manners of speaking, their backstories that make them who they are today.

Meanwhile my agent is shopping Murder for Breakfast to publishers, and I'm looking for new article ideas to pitch to magazine in between the birthing of a new story.

A Writer's Journey is never boring! Thank God for that!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Win an Autographed Copy of Deborah Raney's Leaving November!

This past week I had the pleasure of reading Deborah Raney's lastest release called "Leaving November." I cannot say enough good things about this book! It's the second in her Clayburn series about a small fictional Kansas town , the first being "Remember to Forget" which is NOT a book you want to remember to forget LOL. But I digress.

Please note, you do not need to read the first book to enjoy Leaving November. Enough backstory is covered to allow a new reader to catch up, but like always in series reads, it doesn't hurt to have read the first book.

I just wrote a review of Leaving November on the Amazon site and you can check it out when you click on the book title just below this paragraph and go there to order the book!

Daughter of the town drunk, Vienne Kenney has escaped Clayburn for law school in California. But after failing the bar exam—twice—she’s back home with her tail between her legs, managing Latte-dah, the Clayburn cafĂ© turned upscale coffee shop. Jackson Linder runs the art gallery across the street and Vienne has had her eye on him since she was a skinny seventh grader and he was the hunky high school lifeguard who didn’t know she existed.

Now it's his turn to fall for her and suddenly Clayburn seems like a pretty nice place to be . . .until Vienne discovers that Jack is fresh out of rehab and still struggling with the same addiction that ultimately killed her father.

DEBORAH RANEY is at work on her seventeenth novel. Her books have won the RITA Award, the HOLT Medallion, National Reader's Choice Award and Silver Angel from Excellence in Media.

Deborah's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Deb serves on the advisory board of American Christian Fiction Writers. She and her husband, Ken Raney, have four children and enjoy small-town life in Kansas. Visit Deb on the web at

I figured y'all might enjoy a few questions and answers with Deb regarding this book, so here ya go. And when you are done keep reading to learn how you can win a signed copy of Leaving November for yourself!

Q&A with Deb:
Q. What was your inspiration for Leaving November?
A. When I was writing the first book in the series, Remember to Forget, Jackson Linder, a secondary character in the book, really intrigued me. Jack has struggled with something that is my greatest fear: being responsible for the death of another person. I wanted to explore how someone in his shoes could find forgiveness, redemption, and even happiness.

Q. What are you working on now?
A. I've just finished the first draft for the third book in the Clayburn series, Yesterday’s Embers. I have a new contract for another three-book series, and a couple of stand-alone novels to write, but there are other characters from the Clayburn novels begging to have their stories told! I don’t know if I’ll get to write any more Clayburn books, but I’ve loved my time in this little fictional Kansas town!

Q. What do you enjoy most about writing? Least?
A. Most: Having written! Because that means I’m getting reader feedback on my novel—the reward for all the hours of solitude! I also love that I get to be at home and make my own hours.
Least: First-drafting! I love rewriting—taking my editors’ comments and applying them to make my book the best it can be. But the blank page terrifies me! For me, it’s far easier to fix a horrible manuscript than to try to come up with something out of thin air.

Q. What do you do when you're not reading or writing?
A. I love working in the beautiful garden my husband, Ken, designed in our back yard (for a peek, go to
our website about it!) and I love decorating our home. It’s such fun to comb antique shops and flea markets for a great object from the past that I can use on my desk or in my kitchen, or a great piece of furniture to paint or refinish. I’m not much for pretty stuff just for the sake of having it on display, but I love “repurposing” antiques—like the old chamber pot I use for deadheading in the garden, or the antique bank mail sorter that serves as my filing “cabinet.”

As much as I enjoy my career, I’ve always believed that my most precious calling is wife to Ken, my husband of 33 years; mom to four great kids; and now mom-in-law, and “Mimi” to two darling little grandsons. In addition, I have some of the most amazing friends in the world, including a group of women who share my name. We affectionately call ourselves Club Deb. I think being in the solitary profession of writing helps you really appreciate the people you have eye-to-eye contact with!

LOL, Pam here again, I love that name Club Deb. What a cool idea. Several years ago a gal who shared my name of Pam Meyers did an Internet search and contacted all the Pam Meyerses she could find. It was pretty interesting, and there are a ton of them. Another reason I'm probably going to publish my fiction under my grandmother's maiden name of Andress.

Would you like to win your very own signed copy of Leaving November? Just leave a comment to this blog post by clicking on the word "comment" below. PLEASE BE SURE TO LEAVE CONTACT INFO SO IF YOUR NAME IS DRAWN I CAN CONTACT YOU WITH THE GOOD NEWS! If you don't leave contact info your name will NOT be put in the "hat."

The drawing for Leaving November will take place next Wednesday, April 9th.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

CFBA Book of the Week: When Zeffie Got a Clue by Peggy Darty

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

When Zeffie Got a Clue

WaterBrook Press (March 18, 2008)


Peggy Darty


Peggy Darty is the award-winning author of twenty-seven books, including two other cozy mysteries set in Summer Breeze, Florida: When the Sandpiper Calls and When Bobbie Sang the Blues. She has worked in film, researched for CBS, and led writing workshops around the country. Darty and her husband call Alabama home but spend a great deal of time in Colorado, Montana, and on Florida’s Emerald Coast.


It’s an ordinary afternoon in Summer Breeze, Florida, when a young, wide-eyed girl steps into I Saw It First, the trash-to-treasure shop Christy Castleman and her Aunt Bobbie have opened. Clutching a jewelry box, Zeffie Adams tells Christy she needs money to pay her grandmother’s medical bills, prompting Christy to offer this curious visitor more than the jewelry box is worth–or so she thinks.

But complicated questions form when Christy rips out the box’s lining and uncovers a clue to a cold case murder mystery from eight years ago. Despite warnings from her family and handsome boyfriend Dan Brockman, Christy decides to do a little detective work of her own. After all, the infamous murder happened close to her grandmother’s farm. How risky could it be to take the jewelry box back to the Strickland plantation and ask around about it?

Soon Christy finds there is more to the small box than someone wants her to know. A jewelry theft. A mansion murder. Dangerous family secrets buried in history. Can Christy convince others to let go of the past before it’s too late?

Get it at Amazon!