Thursday, January 31, 2008

Topsy Turvy


I'd forget my head if it wasn't attached. Today I was all set to get end of month bookwork done then dive into writing, and at 9:45 the phone rang. I'd forgotten an appointment made last week.
So I bundled up myself and the kids (-2 degrees out) and hightailed it up the highway to a friend's farm where I taught a class on writing biographical sketches. The class went great and we had a nice lunch and visit afterwards. The kids played on the snowdrifts (higher than my head) and visited the horses.
I got home and did bookwork, and now my mind is mush.
Tomorrow I'll write...really.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

This Week From CFBA


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Passion Most Pure
(Revell January 1, 2008)
by
Julie Lessman
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie Lessman is a debut author who has already garnered writing acclaim, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She is a commercial writer for Maritz Travel, a published poet and a Golden Heart Finalist. Julie has a heart to write “Mainstream Inspirational,” reaching the 21st-century woman with compelling love stories laced with God’s precepts. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever, and has two grown children and a daughter-in-law. A Passion Most Pure is her first novel.
ABOUT THE BOOK: She's found the love of her life. Unfortunately, he loves her sister ...As World War I rages across the Atlantic in 1916, a smaller war is brewing in Boston. Faith O’Connor finds herself drawn to an Irish rogue who is anything but right for her. Collin McGuire is brash, cocky, and from the wrong side of the tracks, not to mention forbidden by her father. And then there’s the small matter that he is secretly courting her younger sister. But when Collin’s affections suddenly shift her way, it threatens to tear Faith's proper Boston family apart. Refusing to settle for anything less than a romantic relationship that pleases God, Faith O'Connor steels her heart against her desire for the roguish Collin McGuire. Collin is trying to win her sister Charity's hand, and Faith isn't sure she can handle the jealousy she feels. Full of passion, romance, rivalry, and betrayal, A Passion Most Pure is Book 1 of the Daughters of Boston series.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Review and a Giveaway

Today I'm pleased to host on the blog Jill Elizabeth Nelson's Reluctant Smuggler, book three in the To Catch A Thief series.






A little about the book:









Looting of archaeological sites is big business in a thriving art and antiquities black market. When a desperate foreign government hires Desiree Jacobs’s security company to stop the hemorrhage, she runs afoul of a deadly art-for-drugs operation. Tony Lucano risks his rising career in the FBI to dive into the international underworld after her. Before either of them can come up for air, they must navigate through a deepening murk of ruthless looters, hair-trigger DEA agents, crooked government agents, and innocent bystanders caught up in an illegal trade beyond their understanding. Even if a miracle delivers Desi and Tony from evil, will their love survive the test?

Complete with a reader’s guide, this third book in the To Catch a Thief series explores the power of hope in the darkest of circumstances.









A little bit about Jill:

Jill Elizabeth Nelson graduated with a degree in literature and creative writing from Southwest State University in Marshall, Minnesota. She served for three years as the senior inspirational reviewer for Romantic Times BOOKclub magazine and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Christian Writers Group, and Christian Authors Network. In 2004, she served as a Christy Award judge in the romance category. Nelson and her husband have four children and live in Madison, Minnesota.

My take on the To Catch A Thief Series:

I love Jill's voice. It is light-hearted, quirky, sprinkled with humorous pop-culture (past and present) references, and quick-paced. The characters, Tony and Desiree, are different enough to strike sparks off one another, but not so opposite you can't see them having a happy future together. But one of the aspects of this series that I enjoyed the most is Jill's development and use of secondary characters. I asked Jill if she would be willing to guest blog on how to create and use secondary characters, and she graciously agreed. Read on!



Secondaries that Sizzle!
Jill Elizabeth Nelson

I love creating secondary characters—those special people who under-gird the main characters or annoy them, or sometimes a healthy dose of both. In my To Catch a Thief series I have two secondary characters that play prominent roles in the books.

Effective secondary characters need several characteristics:

1. They must have distinctive personalities and quirks of their own that make them three-dimensional people, not mere cardboard backdrops to the hero and/or heroine.

2. They must have their own character arcs—i.e. internal and external issues that require addressing and which cause visible growth or regression in their personal development.

3. The issues surrounding secondary characters should create subplots that either help or hinder the goals of the main character(s).

4. They must play roles vital to both plot development and the personal development of the main character(s). They cannot be mere window dressing.

5. They must accomplish all of this without stealing the limelight from the main character(s) or the central plot of the story.

Tall order? Absolutely. But creating such secondary characters is both fun and rewarding, since they add wonderful texture to the story. Let me give you examples.

The main female protagonist in the To Catch a Thief series is Desiree Jacobs, a strong-willed, sassy, and daring museum security expert. Her counterpart in legal crime (you’ll have to read the books to find out what I mean by that) is an electronics genius wife and mom with West Texas gumption named Maxine Webb. By turns, Max facilitates Desi’s capers, confronts her with truths she doesn’t always like to hear, and stands by her in sticky situations.

Yet Max’s role is not merely a foil for Desiree. In the first book of the series, Reluctant Burglar, a major crisis erupts in her personal life that places her and Desi’s lives on the line and deepens the poignancy of the black moment in the plot. This heartrending issue continues into book two, Reluctant Runaway, challenging both women to make pivotal choices. Then in book three, Reluctant Smuggler, resolution begins to unfold—not that the situation has changed, but that the women have changed. All of this taken together makes for a strong, emotionally gripping subplot that continues throughout the series.

FBI agent Tony Lucano takes center stage as my main male protagonist and Desi’s love interest, but he has a grouchy, misogynist partner who grates on both Tony and Desi. He’s a “sandpaper person.” In other words, he tests their spiritual fruit big-time. Consequently, he’s loads of fun to write. Authors are awful creatures—we love to torment our characters. And a secondary character like Steve Crane helps us in that worthy endeavor.

But, oh no, we can’t leave matters static and continue to show Stevo in the same old mold every time he shows up. Steve must have more than one side to him, and he must develop in some way in each book, and especially over the course of the series, or he will not hold reader attention. In Reluctant Smuggler, we see a particularly vital culmination of gradual shifts that have taken place inside him and inside the main characters over the course of the series. So once again we have a poignant subplot that adds new dimension to the story.

Both Steve and Max are particularly useful in creating moments of comic relief to offset the high action and suspense of the majority of the plot. They are quirky and fun in themselves, and I’ve set them up to play off the main characters in ways that sometimes goad and sometimes aid them.

Whether you are reading or writing, make note of secondary characters and ways that they enhance or detract from the story.

Thank you for hosting me on your blog, Erica. I enjoy this topic and hope your readers come away enriched.
Erica here: Thank you to Jill for her guest blog, and for her excellent teaching. I can assure you, the To Catch a Thief series is great fun, exciting, enjoyable, and entertaining. Reluctant Smuggler is a very good capstone to the series.
Even more fun? Jill and her publishers have graciously agreed to provide a copy of Reluctant Smuggler for On The Write Path. Yeah! Thanks Jill and Multnomah!
Please leave a comment with a viable email address to enter to win a copy of Reluctant Smuggler. You'll be glad you did.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Bonus Coverage from CFBA


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Awaken My Heart
Avon Inspire (February 5, 2008)
by
DiAnn Mills
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Award-winning author, DiAnn Mills, launched her career in 1998 with the publication of her first book. She is the author of numerous titles including novels, novellas, and a nonfiction. In addition, she's written several short stories, articles, devotions, and has contributed to several nonfiction compilations. DiAnn believes her readers should "Expect an Adventure." Her desire is to show characters solving real problems of today from a Christian perspective through a compelling story.Several of her anthologies have appeared on the CBA Best Seller List. Three of her books have won the distinction of Best Historical of the Year by Heartsong Presents, and she remains a favorite author by Heartsong Present's readers. Two of her books have won short historical of the year by American Christian Fiction Writers both in 2003 and 2004. She was named Writer of the Year for 2004 at the 35th Annual Mount Hermon Christian Writer's Conference and is the recipient of Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards for 2005 in the long contemporary and novella categories. DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, ChiLibris, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and a mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops. DiAnn also belongs to Cy Fair Women's Networking, an exclusive professional women's networking organization.She lives in sunny Houston, Texas, the home of heat, humidity, and Harleys. In fact she'd own one, but her legs are too short. DiAnn and her husband have four adult sons and are active members of Metropolitan Baptist Church.
ABOUT THE BOOK: 1803, the colony of Texas Awaken My Heart is set in 19th century Texas and tells the story of 18 year old Marianne Phillips, the daughter of a wealthy rancher, Weston Phillips. Weston is involved in a hostile struggle with Armando Garcia, the infamous rebel leader of the 'mestizos' who claim to own the land that Phillips has settled. Marianne Phillips, the daughter of a wealthy rancher, has never agreed with her father's harsh treatment of the poor mestizos who first inhabited the colony of Texas. When rebels kidnap Marianne, in hopes her father will trade back their land for her freedom, she realizes her loyalty lies with her abductors, not her father, who plans to marry her off to the don of a nearby estate. Armando Garcia is the locals' reluctant leader, but his people revere and depend on him. Knowing that without his leadership they'd be forced from their land, Armando accepts his role, but does not approve of the latest attempt to manipulate their enemy. When he learns that Marianne actually speaks his language, of her loyalty to his people, and of the faith that keeps her strong, Armando is faced with a difficult decision. Will his newfound love keep him from letting her go? Or will he set her free and risk losing their land forever?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday Five



I've been reading Anne Lamott's Bird By Bird, a memoir on the writer's life. One exercise she suggested was writing about your childhood experiences, particularly those relating to school lunch. So here goes.
Five things I remember from School Lunch:
1. Hageman Elementary School, Salina, Kansas. Jerry Short threw his meatloaf up against the wall just to see what would happen. It bounced, tumbled under the table, and lay there in a quivering mass. (Okay, side note here: I just searched for Jerry Short on line. The bane of my elementary school existance has become a respected firefighter in my hometown of Salina, Kansas! Who would've thought?)
2. There was a table for kids who were naughty in the lunch room. They had to sit up front by the lunch ladies.
3. Our lunchroom monitor once blew her whistle behind Doug Holsligh's head and it startled him so bad, milk shot out of his nose.
4. Faith Christian School, Salina, Kansas. Brown Bag Central. One day, Robbie Ronning went to shell his hard boiled egg only to find out it wasn't hard boiled. As you can tell, this made such an impression on his classmates, whenever we think of lunch at Faith, someone will mention Robbie's Egg Disaster.
5. Not to pick on Robbie, but he also once had his apple escape his lunch bag and roll across the lunchroom and into the church kitchen. (School met at the church.)
When you think of school lunch, what comes to mind?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Stopped



My dad has a saying whenever someone does something stupid.
"That person is educated beyond his intelligence."
That's how I feel right now. Not that I've done anything stupid...well, not that I'm going to admit here.
I've been reading books. Books on craft. Books on the craft of writing. I read "How to Write Western Novels" by Matt Braun, and "Write Away" by Elizabeth George. I peeked into "How to Write Historical Fiction" by Roberta Gellis. Still on the bedside table are "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott, "20 Master Plots and How to Build Them" by Ronald Tobias, and "The Complete Guide to Writing & Selling the Christian Novel" by Penelope J. Stokes, Ph.D.
Each one showed me some new vista as yet unexplored in my writing. Plot, Emotion, Payoff, tools for the writer's toolbox. My mind whirls at all the possible ways to begin, sustain, and end a novel.
I've come to the conclusion that while you're actually writing a novel is not the time to be reading these types of craft books. I'm paralyzed by the possibilities, and completely sure I'm not up to the task. The standards set by these instructors is so much easier to talk about than to do.
Has this every happened to you? You read so much on how to do something, you feel educated beyond your intelligence? I believe I'll be setting aside the craft books until the rough draft is finished.
T. Davis Bunn said, "The writer needs to be completely confident and fearless when writing the first draft, and have no confidence whatsoever when editing subsequent drafts."
Craft books are for subsequent drafts.

This Week From CFBA


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Fallen
(Kregel Publications February 29, 2008)
by
Matthew Raley
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Matthew Raley is senior pastor of the Orland Evangelical Free Church in northern California, where he lives with his wife and two young children. For fun, he enjoys playing chamber music with friends, giving occasional solo recitals, and playing first violin in the North State Symphony. This is his first book.
ABOUT THE BOOK Jim was at work when his eyes drifted to the coffee shop visible from his office window. An attractive woman driving a Mercedes pulled up to the curb . . . and Jim’s married pastor emerged from the car. When Jim delves deeper into his pastor’s world, will he be able to handle what he discovers? Is he right to suspect that Dave is having an affair? In the behind-the-scenes church battle that ensues, Jim is torn between duty to his church and a desire to show grace. A ripped-from-the-headlines drama of suspense that keeps you engaged to the last page. Fallen is the story about Jim’s relationship with Dave—how Jim tries to do the right thing to keep Dave accountable, but finds the situation getting worse and worse. It’s also about Jim’s other relationships. Just as he discovers hypocrisy in Dave, Jim discovers his own sins against his wife and daughter.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Book Review ~ 101 Cups of Water


Book: 101 CUPS OF WATER

Author: C.D. Baker

Summary: C.D. Baker dips into the flowing stream of God’s love and draws out relief, refreshment, mercy, hope and sustenance for a new generation of Christ-followers. Baker’s clean, simple prose is paired with evocative, black and white photographs that will etch each truth into the reader’s memory.
Reviews and Endorsements:
"David Baker invites readers into a perilous journey to the headwaters. You will find your preconceived notions of Christianity challenged, your veneer of pretense sanded down, and the bare wood of your thirsty soul exposed. These brief devotional readings strip away the fa├žade and take us honestly to our longing for Living Water--and the quenching of your thirsty soul. Come--take and drink these surprisingly deep little cups of fresh, clear water for your soul."– Jane Rubietta, author of Come Closer

"Refreshingly honest and disarmingly vulnerable." – Cecil Murphey, best-selling co-author of 90 Minutes in Heaven and Heaven Is Real

" C. D. Baker shows us all the surprising times and places where we can drink from God's cup ."– Luci Shaw, poet and author of Breath for the Bones, The Crime of Living Cautiously, and Accompanied by Angels; writer in residence at Regent College

"I really REALLY like this book. Every soul can find rest and peace in these perfect little sips."– Ray Blackston, author of Flabbergasted

Author Bio: C.D. Baker founded and operated an award-winning insurance business before redirecting his career to write. His historical novel Crusade of Tears in The Journey of Souls series earned a Christy Award nomination. He’s completing a master’s degree in theological studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where he splits his time from home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. His website is www.cdbaker.com.
My Review: I knew from the first page this book would impact me deeply. I found myself and my own struggles in every entry. If you wrestle with the Christian life, with feeling that sometimes you're just going through the motions, that your soul is a desert longing for some healing rain, this book is for you.
Leave a comment with a viable email address to enter to win a copy of this book. Winner will be announced on Jan. 26th.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Fear

Fear. The writer's bane. Parazlyzing, soul-sickening, life-stealing fear.

What if the story isn't good enough? What if I can't finish this novel? What if the characters won't behave? What if nobody likes me?

Fear feeds the neediness inherent in many authors. I've fallen prey to it lately about the Genesis contest.

What if 15 pages isn't enough of an opening for the judges to appreciate my story? What if they don't like my synopsis? What if I don't final this year?

On one of the writer's email loops I belong to, someone posted that FEAR stood for

F-False

E-Evidence

A-Appearing

R-Real

How true is that? How often do we fear something that is false? Listen to the lies our heart tells us until they appear more real than the truth?

I'm happy to say I finished both my Genesis entries and will send them off to the crit partners tonight.

I read somewhere that courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is putting your fear in your hat, then sitting on your hat. Courage is moving on in spite of your fear.

Long live Courage!

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Friday Five



Today I started watching the first season of St. Elsewhere. I checked it out from the library.

Why St. Elsewhere? Mostly because when I was in eighth grade, I was too young to watch it when it first aired. This wouldn't have been so bad, except my sister (18 months older) got to stay up with my mom and watch it. They would talk about the show the next week and I'd be all disgruntled, crossed arms, tossed head, and everything.

This week's Friday Five is:

Things I've noticed about St. Elsewhere.

1. Howie Mandel once had hair and a lot of it.

2. Denzel Washington...he's just cool.

3. Evidently tight pants were de rigeur for males in 1982.

4. 80's music is hilarious. Synthesizers 24/7

5. Political correctness has come a long way.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tagged!


I got tagged for the One Book Meme by Carla Stewart. Thanks, Carla!


1. One book that changed your life. Arabian Cow Horse by John Richard Young. I must've read this book thirty times as a kid. The relationship between Don Revere and his father, Mike, is wonderful.


2. One book that you have read more than once. I've read so many books over, it's hard to choose just one, but I will say To The Hilt by Dick Francis.


3. One book you would want on a desert island. My John MacArthur study Bible.


4. Two books that made you laugh. The Complete Calvin and Hobbes and Honey Do, Inc. by Georgiana Daniels. This one isn't published (YET) but it is knock-down funny.


5. One book that made you cry. Where The Red Fern Grows. I bawled my eyes out.


6. One book you wish you'd written. Longshot by Dick Francis.


7. One book you wish had never been written. There are a lot of stinky books out there, but I don't think I could point one out that I personally wish hadn't been written.


8. Two books you are currently reading.Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton by Edward Rice and The Reluctant Smuggler by Jill Elizabeth Nelson.


9. One book you've been meaning to read. Pride and Prejudice.


10. Five people that I tag: You all are good at tagging yourself. Just drop me a line here and let me know so I can read your answers.

This Week From CFBA


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Christian Writers' Market Guide 2008
WaterBrook Press (January 15, 2008)
by
Sally Stuart
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sally Stuart has been writing for the last 40+ years, and has been putting out the annual "Christian Writers' Market Guide" for the last 23 years. Her other writing includes several Christian education resources books, a children's picture book, a basic writing text, writing resources, and a western novel--plus hundreds of articles and marketing columns. She writes marketing columns for the "Christian Communicator," "Advanced Christian Writer," and the Oregon Christian Writers' Newsletter. She speaks and teaches at Christian Writers' Conferences nationwide. Sally is the mother of 3 and grandmother of 8. She and her husband, Norm, spend their free time vacationing on the Oregon coast.
Check out her blog!
ABOUT THE BOOK: The essential reference tool for the Christian writer, Sally Stuart’s Christian Writers’ Market Guide is now in its 23rd annual edition!

Check out the section on Blogging on page 69...the CFBA is listed!

Writers’ Conference listings, Book Publishers, Magazine Publishers, and a Bookstore filled with the resources you need to be successful in this business. Get a Book Contract or Manuscript Evaluation, and check out the Writer’s Resource links. This book has all you need to connect to all these valuable helps for the beginning, intermediate, or professional writer.
To keep you up to date with the latest marketing news, visit Sally Stuart’s new marketing blog, Christian Writers’ Marketplace, at http://www.stuartmarket.blogspot.com/.

A new, updated version of the Christian Writers’ Market Guide is available about January 15 each year.
Erica here: I LOVE the Christian Writers' Market Guide. It's how I found my agent. It's how I keep up on what publishing houses are looking for and what editors are with which houses. If you're serious about pursuing publication in the Christian Market, then this book will prove invaluable.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Guest Blogger - Sally Bradley

My friend Sally Bradley, owner of Affordable Novel Critique Service is guest blogging at On The Write Path today. Here's a little bit about Sally:

Besides my relationship with God, there are three things that matter to me.

The first is books. I’ve always loved to read. One of my favorite childhood memories is of going to the library and picking out a dozen young adult novels that didn’t even last the two weeks until the next trip.

Chicago is pretty special to me, too. For most of my life I’ve lived in the city’s suburbs, but don’t ask me how to get anywhere. I can point you to the airport and the lake and the White Sox stadium. What else matters, right?

Most important is my family. My husband is a great pastor with a heart for helping people grow spiritually. My kids have a heart for — the White Sox. We’ve brainwashed them well. But their love for God is growing, and that’s exciting to watch.

When I’m not busy with family, church, and the too infrequent White Sox games, I write.

Right now my novel Touching Home is making its way from my agent to publishers, in hope of finding its place.

Any spare moments left are for reading. Like my book, much of what I read is Christian fiction. In them, I find characters who believe in God like I do and struggle with some of the same things I struggle with.

Has it been awhile since you’ve read a Christian novel? Stop by a bookstore and pick one up. I bet you’ll find yourself surprised not only at the writing talent and the topics they cover but encouraged by the great hope they offer.

And here are Sally's thoughts on the upcoming ACFW Genesis Contest:

With the ACFW Genesis contest approaching, many of us are going to be fine-tuning our novels' first fifteen pages and their accompanying synopses. We'll be writing, rewriting, sending pages to critique partners, rewriting, and rewriting again until we fear we've lost perspective. That's a scary place to be. What do we do then?

1. Do listen to your critique partners.

If you're finding that all or even a majority of the group are commenting on the same section, there probably is a problem you need to address. Your writing partners might have given you suggestions that you know weren't the right fix for the story, but that's okay. Just realize that you need to analyze the section with their comments in mind and sweat through that part of the story until it works.

2. Don't jump at everything your critique partners say needs fixing.

This is a toughy because it's too easy to be sure that our critique partners don't get us and that all the editors out there will. So how do you know when to listen and when not to? First, refer to number one. If you're blowing off everything your critique partners say, then odds are that they're right and you need to address what they're finding. But if you can objectively say you're analyzing your critique partners' insights and putting the ones that work into your story, then when you get that deep gut instinct that says, "No, I think they're wrong this time," you can go with it. After all, you know your story the best. Go with what you envision that story becoming. Second, when in doubt, examine who the information is coming from. Is it from someone who writes gut-wrenching women's fiction and you write comedic genre romances? Their suggestion of a deeply emotional scene on page 6 may not work in your genre. Same with a newer writer who doesn't understand the way your genre works in today's publishing world. Or a published writer who maybe didn't catch what genre you're writing in. At times like these, your instincts may be exactly what you need to go with.

3. Do your best and rest in God.

This is where I shake my head at writers who don't know a God who cares about every area of their lives. Writing is a demanding, exhausting industry. How do they stay sane in this biz without Him? Even as a Christian, it's too easy to freak ourselves out that it's all up to us and we're just not good enough. Remember, whether you get back scores in the high 90's OR the mid 50's, God has His hand on you. His timing is the timing that matters. The Bible says that The king's heart is like channels of water in God's hand--He turns it wherever He wishes. He can turn the hearts of editors, too. When the time comes for each of us to be published, we can't mess up God's plans. He's bigger, stronger, and wiser than we are. As a Christian writer, you do your best, and then you let God's plan unfold in His time. So don't let any lost-perspective fears keep you from entering the contest. Do your best, listen to your writing buddies, prepare yourself to learn from your judges, and leave the rest to God. I'll be doing all that right along with you.


Thank you, Sally, for these wise words. As I approach the Genesis this year, I'm more nervous than I have been the previous two times I entered. I needed this reminder to trust God first, then my abilities, and the help of my wonderful critique partners.

Please check out Affordable Novel Critique Service. Sally's services include:


Synopsis Critique
Proposal Critique
Query Critique
Manuscript Critique
Substantive Edit
Mentoring Critique

Thank you, Sally!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A few thoughts



Today my husband and I went to lunch together sans kids. We had a great time, I had mango salsa cheesecake, and we talked--really talked--for two hours!
Have I mentioned that I have the best husband ever?
Anyway, in the course of our conversation, I realized how like becoming a better writer becoming more Christ-like is.
Editors choose your work because of its strengths and reject it because of its weaknesses. In order to increase your chances of an editor wanting to buy your work, you need to focus on your strengths and make them even stronger, and determine your weaknesses and work on making those less weak.
It is like that with your Christian walk too. Identify your strengths. Hospitality? Teaching? Encouragement? Do those things, work those spiritual muscles, and become even better at those.
Also, identify your weakness. Giving? Mercy? Evangelism? Work on those weaknesses, step out of your comfort zone, ask God for some help in developing these areas.
You might be surprised what happens.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Friday Five (late)



Five things I hadn't anticipated when I got a cat:
1. Hair. How can something so small (8 lbs) produce so much hair?
2. Just how slippery and argumentative a small animal can be when it comes time to put her in the travel case to go to the vet.
3. How nice it is to have someone glad to see you after a day away.
4. That keeping the cat food in the garage might lead to having mice snack on it and stash it behind the dashboard of my van, which necessitated a need to take the van to the garage for a de-kibble-ing.
5. Warm-cat-sleeping-in-your-lap-therapy.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Writing Class



Yesterday I taught my first writing class to someone other than my kids. A friend of mine who also homeschools has agreed to trade specialties with me. She is teaching my daughter, Heather, to sew, and I am teaching her daughters (Rachel, Rebekah, and Sarah) how to write biographies, short stories, and research papers. My son, James, is also in the class.
This is a WIN-WIN situation for me. I have no clue how to sew. In fact, sewing machines make me very nervous. A couple of forays into the land of home-ec sewing in the past have not ended well for me. Best to leave this advanced science to the experts like Julie.
But writing now, that's right in my wheelhouse. We all met at the library yesterday morning. Their assignment before the class was to decide on who they would like to write a biographical report on. I was tickled to death at their choices.
Rachel, the eldest, the most responsible of the group, chose Harriet Tubman. We found several excellent resources for this admirable historical figure, and I expect Rachel's report to be well-executed and organized.
Rebekah, the animal lover and avid reader, chose one of my heroes, Marguerite Henry, author of horse books that I read to tatters as a kid. We found both an autobiography and a biography about this influential children's author. Rebekah's report will have a beautiful cover, illustrations, and will be written from the heart.
Sarah, the sports lover, has chosen the hilarious John Madden of NFL fame as her subject. Because John Madden is still among the living, we will have to rely on his humorous anecdotal works, as well as information gathered mostly on line. I expect Sarah's report to be loaded with John's sports accomplishments.
James, my adventurer, chose Christopher Columbus. We found so many books about Columbus that it was hard to choose. James's report will cover the basics, no frills. He'd rather be moving than writing, so this will be a challenge for him. (and maybe for me too!)
We'll meet once a week for the class. This week's assignment is to read the resources we found and answer the basic questions, Who, When, Where, What, Why.
We're going to have such fun!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

This Week From CFBA


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Happily Even After (#3 - Sassy Sistahood Series)
(Steeple Hill January 1, 2008)
by
Marilynn Griffith

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marilynn Griffith is mom to a tribe, wife to a deacon, and proof that God gives second chances. While best known for her colorful novels about friendship, family and faith, Marilynn is also a speaker and nonfiction writer. Her nonfiction has been included in CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE CHRISTIAN WOMAN'S SOUL and several other devotionals and magazines. Currently, Marilynn is editor of the SISTAHFAITH: BELIEVING BEYOND SHAME anthology. She is also the founder of Faithchick.com, a blog for faith fiction readers. Marilynn is the author of six novels dealing with issues such as teen pregnancy, AIDS, abstinence, stress relief, single parenting and marriage. Her recent fiction titles include TANGERINE and IF THE SHOE FITS. Marilynn has served as Vice President and Publicity Officer of American Christian Fiction Writers. She speaks to youth, women, and writers about believing beyond boundaries and daring to reach dreams. Marilynn lives in Florida with her husband and seven children whom she taught at home for seven years. When not chasing toddlers, helping with homework or trying to find her husband a clean shirt, she can be found scribbling furiously on her next novel. To book Marilynn for media interviews, speaking engagements, Serious Fun fiction parties or book club call-ins, please contact her thru her WEBSITE.

ABOUT THE BOOK Superwoman doesn't live here! I marry a gorgeous executive, have a baby, lose all the weight (most of it), and move to a fine house in the suburbs with a welcoming new church. Wait...did I say welcoming? One teeny waaah! and new mothers and their crying babies are exiled to a separate room. At least there's some enlightening conversation. Like about my husband and issues I didn't even know about! And then there's my aptly named mother-in-law, Queen Elizabeth, who can't stand me. I'm about to lose my mind! So it's high time for a visit to the Sassy Sistahood for some much-needed advice about men, marriage and motherhood!

The Sassy Sistahood: They get by with a little help from their friends.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Exciting News!


I'm pleased to announce that Heartsong Presents Mysteries is now launched. Hurry to Heartsong Presents Mysteries and sign up to receive four free cozy mysteries.
Congratulations, Heartsong, and editor Susan Downs.

Monday, January 07, 2008

A chance to vote!


Now is your chance to go to Kaye's website and vote on the title for her new book. Hurry and get your vote in. You'll be entered to win a fabulous "Taste of Louisiana" gift box. The contest ends January 25th.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The One Word Meme

Found this on Betsy's Blog Writer at Large (link at the left).

I'm still laid low with a cold...but still cheering the Jayhawk win in the Orange Bowl...oh and did anyone see the undefeated Jayhawk's basketball score against BC? Hee Hee.

1. Where is your cell phone? Absent


2. Your significant other? Amazing

3. Your hair? brown


4. Your mother? Talented


5. Your father? Kind


6. Your favorite thing? Writing


7. Your dream last night? Unsettling


8. Your favorite drink? Water


9. Your dream/goal? Published


10. The room you're in? bedroom


11. Your ex? nonexistant


12. Your fear? spiders


13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Minnesota


14. Where were you last night? Home


15. What you're not? anorexic


16. Muffins? yes


17. One of your wish list items? DVD's


18. Where you grew up? Kansas


19. The last thing you did? Sneeze


20. What are you wearing? jammies


21. Your TV? Football!


22. Your pets? snoozing


23. Your computer? on


24. Your life? Wonderful

25. Your mood? even


26. Missing someone? family


27. Your car? tan


28. Something you're not wearing? hat


29. Favorite Store? bookstore


30. Your summer? short


31. Like someone? belovede


32. Your favorite color? Red


33. When is the last time you laughed? now


34. Last time you cried? December

35. Your favorite animal? Pookie

36. Last thing you ate? Chinese

37. Dream vacation spot? Antipodes


Wanna play along?

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Friday Five




Five things I meant to do today instead of lying in a cold-medicine induced fog in bed all day:

1. Write more on my new novel.

2. Do the routine bookwork.

3. Grocery shop.

4. Go shopping for a new office chair.

5. Happy Dance All Over the World because my Jayhawks won the ORANGE BOWL LAST NIGHT! WOOHOO!

Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk, KU!!!!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Some Thoughts on the New Year

It's that time of year again. Time to be reflecting some, but looking ahead more. Time for resolutions. I am not a great believer in New Year's Resolutions, for I feel that if I was serious about striving for a goal, I wouldn't be waiting until New Year's to start it.

I am a great believer in setting goals. In October I listed my new goals for the year (culminating in September of 2008 at the ACFW Conference). I think it's time to review those goals and see how I'm doing.





1. Research 1870's southwest Minnesota. Did this. Read many books, many newspaper articles, and gov't reports.


2. Write a first draft of "Hope of the North Star" (tentative title) by February 14th, 2008. {I don't know why I chose this date, but there it is.} I've shelved this for the moment. The story wasn't coming together as I had hoped, and after setting it aside for awhile, I can see a major restructuring is in order. I'll come back to it later, perhaps this summer.


3. Edit and rewrite "Hope of the North Star" by May 15th, 2008. See above.


4. Write proposal packet, synopsis, and pitch for HOTNS before September 2008. See above.


5. Work on Deep Editing Course by Margie Lawton, incorporating what I'm learning. I have worked on this packet of notes. The more I work, the more I realize that in striving to fulfill all the great possibilities this course has opened up to me, I am in real danger of losing my author voice. The course is loaded with great examples of fresh writing, literary devices, power writing, and so much more, but after awhile, I found myself trying to emulate those examples to the point I didn't sound like me anymore. I have benefitted from the course, but I have to remain true to who I am at this point in my writing life.


6. Read 5 books on craft this year. Two books I've read so far are:
On Writing Romance: How to Craft a Novel that Sells by Leigh Michaels. My take- lots of excellent thoughts, some YIKES in the examples of the different categories within the romance genre.
The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life by Noah Lukeman. My take- This book didn't make a big impression on me. For a book on plot, I'd recommend Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell.

7. Begin new novel targeted at Heartsong with deadline of Feb. 14th for first draft.
8. Edits on new novel by May 15th.
9. Pull together an entry for the Genesis Contest 2008.
10. Finish rewrites of opening of Drums of the North Star and send them off to the agent for sending out to editors. - DONE! :)

How about you? Where are you on your goals? Are you readjusting, working, being specific and deliberate about what you want to accomplish?