Tuesday, September 23, 2008

ACFW Conference --- Amazing!

I have been back from Minneapolis for two days and am just coming out of my brain fog that I've been in ever since I walked into my condo Sunday night at about seven p.m.

I flew up to the Twin Cities a week ago today and was met by a couple crazy ladies, better known as two of my fellow Penwrights, a crit group I belong to. They stood there in the baggage claim area holding an ACFW sign upside down. I should have taken a picture, but I didn't.

Wednesday was spent in board meetings most of the day and evening, then the next morning the conference began revving up with early bird sessions. Being on the ACFW Board I only made it to one workshop, but will be getting recordings of all the sessions which I look forward to getting because the workshops covered a gamut of different topics.

It was good to catch up with friends I haven't seen for a while like Winter Peck who is with me here. And Deb Raney and Rachel Hauck who are in the pic below.

My appointments with editors resulted in requests for proposals for my romance and my mystery both! I'm working on honing my mystery manuscript and getting ready to send it to an interested editor and, at the same time, will be working to finish the romance manuscript which is about half done. I have my work cut out for me! But it's fun work. God is good.

Saturday we held a massive book-signing at Mall of America. We had over 100 authors signing books. I joked I needed to contract a book so I could sit down! Almost three hours after I arrived to help, I finally sat down on the shuttle bus, hot and tired. Those several hours were frenzied and loud, but at the same time so satisfying to see Christian fiction being spotlighted. While the authors were signing, interviews of other authors like Angie Hunt (our keynote speaker), Brandilyn Collins, Terri Blackstock, etc. were taking place on the rotunda stage.

Then it was back to the hotel for more workshops before we cleaned up for the awards banquet. We all cleaned up good too! The Genesis writing contest winners and the Book of the Year winners were all announced in addition to the Mentor of the Year which I had the pleasure of announcing. This year's award was especially gratifying. Janice Thompson, the 2008 winner, had just come through Hurricane Ike, and for a while it didn't look like she and the other Houstonian members would make it to the conference. Here's a pic of me with Dineen Miller, the graphic artist who designed all our banners and the conference book cover.

I'm sure by tomorrow my brain will be a bit more alive than it is right now, but the memories will be as clear as ever. Next year it's Denver and I can't wait!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Book Review: Suspicious Minds by Christy Barritt

I am so happy to have a working computer back. I've been waiting a couple weeks to be able to post my review for a new mystery that's out for your reading pleasure.

About a year ago or so I came across Christy Barritt's Hazardous Duty and literally inhaled it. I've always loved mysteries, especially those with recurring sleuths, and was very happy to meet Gabby Sinclair, a crime scene cleaner. Gabby is sassy, at times insecure, and drawn to solving crimes, most notably murders. When Christy asked for reviewers for her second book in the series, Suspicious Minds, I jumped at the chance, excited to see what Gabby was up to now.

When the book arrived, I knew immediately I was going to enjoy the read. How could I not with the legs pictured belonging to none other than Elvis. Yep. This story is about Elvis whom Gabby finds dead in a crawl space. Well, not really Elvis. After all, he passed years ago. The victim is an Elvis impersonator, called a tribute artist. When the police seem to be lagging in their investigation, the dead man's widow asks Gabby to investigate. Well, what's a girl with a penchant for rooting out the truth supposed to do but accept?

Gabby faces ups and downs during her investigation, including facing the truth about her relationship with her boyfriend. What she finds harder is to face her real feelings for another man or her need for God.

Barritt writes a fast-paced story that manages to mix humor with the seriousness of murder in a way that works. You will love this sassy but emotionally-vulnerable heroine and find yourself rooting her on.

I don't know if Barritt has more stories up her sleeve in the Squeaky Clean Mystery series, but I sure hope so.

You can find your own copy of this great read at Amazon or Christianbook.com.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

My Trusty Laptop is Almost Dead R.I.P.

This past week has not been easy. I have been working hard on reducing the word count of Murder for Breakfast to submit to a publisher who has requested it. Working so hard that I even took my trusty laptop on my Labor Day vacation!

The day after Labor Day I started getting weird error messages that I didn't have enough RAM. I cleaned out my temporary files and I still got the same message. At times the system would crash because it couldn't support the software. I tried all sorts of things. Shut off the Spy Ware, shut off the virus protection, etc. etc., re-configured the RAM settings and still I was told I didn't have enough RAM. I spent the entire day up until late afternoon trying everything and nothing worked.

Under normal circumstances this may have been a job for the Geek Squad or some other computer guru, but problem is that I had this manuscript to work on and worst of all, the ACFW conference is coming up. I leave in about another week! I need a trustworthy working laptop. I'm secretary on the board and must take the minutes of two board meetings.

I've been saving for a Mac laptop so I finally caved and went to the Apple store and got the laptop I've had my eye on. I put the money saved down on it, but will be paying off the good old credit card instead of my savings account to pay for it.

I have to say I looooooove the MacBook! And I'll love it even better when I get the Office for Mac software I ordered. Until then I can still use the other laptop to work on Word docs, if that's all I do. No email, no anything else. Then I save to a flashdrive for transfer to the Mac once the software arrives. I've been tracking this package since Wednesday and it's taking the proverbial slow boat to China. For the past two days it's been in the Chicago area, but it has yet to get to my local post office. I'm praying for tomorrow!

I've had to put this all in the right perspective or I'd go nuts waiting. Things could be a whole lot worse. I had the means to get the new computer. I will still have a week before I leave for conference to get things loaded on the Mac and printed out, etc. I have my health, the weather is good, God is blessing me in hundreds of ways, and in a few days this will all be a memory!

September 12, 2008: I wrote the above last week, but gave up because of the problems I was having. But now I'm good to go. . . I think. And I discovered yesterday that the PC had three viruses on the thing!!! Did one person ever suggest I check that out? No. Yes. I had Virus protection, but they still got in. Go figure.

Anyway, I am so jazzed about this new MacBook so all is well.