Friday, July 30, 2010

The Friday Five

Over the next little while, we're going to play the Alphabet Game for the Friday Five. Since I'm linear, I'm starting with the letter A. (Okay, so last week I started with the lettter J, but that was before I knew I wanted to play the Alphabet Game for the Friday Five each week for awhile.

So, four things I like and one thing that I DON'T that start with the letter A.

1. Apples - Granny Smith preferably.

2. Aragorn from Lord of the Rings

3. Amelia Peabody - Fictional Egyptologist and detective created by Elizabeth Peters

4. Atlas Maps - I LOVE maps. Whenver I have to sit in the car and wait for someone, I open up my US Atlas and imagine all the different places I could go and things I could see.

5. Arborvitae - NOT! I don't like arborvitae trees. I'm not sure why. I just don't. We have 25 arborvitae trees in our hedge. Because the husband likes them. :)

Tell me at least one thing you like that starts with the letter A, and one thing you don't. :)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thursday Recipe

It's hot. I'm looking for ways to feed the family that don't involved heating up the house. Here's one of my favorite summertime salads.


Waldorf Salad Recipe


Print Options

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Print (with photos)

Ingredients

1/2 cup chopped, slightly toasted walnuts

1/2 cup celery, thinly sliced

1/2 cup red seedless grapes, sliced (or a 1/4 cup of raisins)

1 sweet apple, cored and chopped

3 Tbsp mayonnaise

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Salt

Pepper

Lettuce


In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise (or yogurt) and the lemon juice. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper. Mix in the apple, celery, grapes, and walnuts. Serve on a bed of fresh lettuce.



Do you have a favorite summer salad?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Big Day Coming

This is post 995 for this blog.

Wow.

When I started blogging in 2006, I had no idea what I was doing, or what this blog would morph into. I didn't have a plan. Mostly, I just wrote about whatever caught my fancy. Whatever I was ruminating on at the time.

Not much has changed. I still write about whatever catches my fancy. I've developed a few regular items, like the recipe Thursday and the Friday Five. I blog about family, writing, history, the mundane and the miraculous in my life. I write as if I'm talking to my friends, for that's what I hope my readers here are. I'd rather have friends than followers, friends than fans.

Next week will mark the 1000th blog post for On The Write Path. I never imagined I'd have so many posts, but now, I hope I have at least that many more!

In honor of the 1000th blog post coming up, I'll be giving away a signed copy of each of my first FIVE books.

The Bartered Bride
The Marriage Masquerade
The Engineered Engagement

Clara and the Cowboy
Lily and the Lawman

(This will mean that the winner will have to wait a couple of weeks until my author copies of Lily and the Lawman arrive.)

To win, all you have to do is leave a comment saying which blog post you enjoyed the most. (Saying "The Friday Five is my favorite." isn't enough. Be specific.)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A little backbone, please!

When it comes time to do some rewrites, I'm going to need to comb through my heroine's scenes and make her more consistent. You see, when I started writing Light to my Path, my heroine was used to obeying, used to being told what to do, used to falling into line. This made sense to me, as she had grown up in an orphanage. She's used to living on charity, and in the beginning of my book, I had her take this as a matter of course.

After a few chapters of this, I realized she was completely spineless. If she didn't get a little backbone, she was going to sink this story. I'm easily bored by a character who allows life to happen to her instead of being proactive and making life happen.

What she needed was to be forced to take charity, but to long for independence. Circumstanced dictate that she must allow someone else to meet the needs of the children in her care, though that help comes from the last person in the world she wants to take charity from. The help needed to be a source of conflict.

An added benefit to this conflict is that it raises the faith-stakes for my heroine as well. How can she be independent and in control when her faith tells her that she needs to cast her cares upon the Lord and let Him light her path and show her the way she should go?

So, have you ever read a book where the heroine wasn't proactive? Did you like it? I've only read one that I really enjoyed, and that was Montana Rose by Mary Connealy. Mary set out to write a book where the heroine wasn't feisty, spunky, spirited, etc. to see if she could do it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Spiffy Word Counter

I love word counters and plotting my progress when writing a new novel. In past years I've used the zokutou word meter because I liked how it looked and that I could choose my own colors. Then the zokutou word meter disappeared. Whoever provided it decided not to renew the website subscription, and poof! It was gone.

I searched for a new word counter, and I've tried several, but I missed the old one.

Then YAY! I found one that looked just the same! To the right of this post, you can see my word count meter (in red, because that is, after all, the BEST color.) I'm happy to say that it has been sliding up and up and up this month.

Are you a fan of word count meters/plotting your progress?

You can get your own word count meter at http://svenja.atspace.com/wordmeter.html

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Friday Five

One of the games we played in the car on vacation was the Alphabet game. And one of the letters we got stuck on was the letter J. We'd watch license plates go by, hoping one had a J on it so we could get over that hurdle.

So, in honor of summer vacation and long road trips, I'm going to tell you five things that I like that start with the letter J.

1. James. My son.

2. Jam. Preferably strawberry.

3. Jackalopes. They make me laugh.

4. January and June, since that's when my kids' birthdays are.

5. Jesus. :)


How about you? What do you like that starts with the letter J?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thursday Recipe


Today's recipe comes from my friend CJ, in honor of her youngest daughter's birthday. Happy Birthday, Young One!

Ingredients


1 (10 ounce) package frozen sliced strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream

Directions

Combine the frozen strawberries and sugar in a food processor or blender. Process until the fruit is roughly chopped. With the processor running, slowly pour in the heavy cream until fully incorporated. Serve immediately, or freeze for up to one week.
 
Today's another guest blog at http://goteenwriters.blogspot.com/
 
So, what's your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Word Count Palooza

Thanks to daily word wars with Twitter friends using #1k1hr, my ms has grown considerably. I'm on the downhill side now, and the story is gaining momentum quickly. I've really enjoyed the afternoon writing sessions, and it certainly has had a positive effect upon my word totals.

Last week, the question was asked, at the speeds that we're writing, do we turn out quality? I think every writer is different. Some can write quickly, and some need to go slower. Some do a lot of work on edits, some not so much. I am only able to write this quickly because I have a fairly detailed outline. My chapter-by-chapter outline for this story is over 5K words long, 1/10th of the projected overall word length of my novel. Without this outline, I'd wander more, and stall more, and I'm sure I would have much more to do on edits.

Big congratulations to Katie G. who wrote EIGHT THOUSAND words on Saturday and finished her first draft. Way to go, Katie!

So, are you an outliner? Do you write fast?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Jackpot!!!

The search has ended. At last. After a search that lasted more than 10 years, I am finally the owner of Essie Summers' The South Horizon Man.

Essie Summers is one of my favorite authors of all time, the writer of more than 50 books, and one of the reasons I wanted to become a novelist.

And The South Horizon Man was the last book of hers that I didn't own. Nearly every time this book has come up for sale, the starting price is somewhere around 200 US dollars. As much as I wanted this book, there was no way I could or would pay that much for it. Then, an alert hit my inbox that BetterWorldBooks had a copy for sale at a very reasonable price. I thought it would be gone by the time I clicked over to the link, but there it still was.

BetterWorldBooks takes donations of books from libraries, schools, and private individuals and resells them. The proceeds from the sales go to fund literacy programs around the world.

A win-win! I got my book, the purchase price went to fund literacy so more people could read more books.

Have you ever hit the jackpot and found a book you've wanted for a long time?

Also, today I'm guest blogging over at http://goteenwriters.blogspot.com/

I hope you'll hop on over an check it out!

Monday, July 19, 2010

International?


Got some fun news this week from my mother. A friend of hers went to Ireland and Scotland, taking many copies of my books. When this friend and her niece entered a little bookstore on the trip, they found some Heartsongs on the shelf. They purchased a few for the flight home, and then asked the bookstore owner if the store carried any of my titles. There were none of my titles in the store, so the bookstore owner got online and ordered some while my mom's friend stood right there.

Kinda cool! :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Friday Five

This week's Friday Five:

Five pet peeves

1. When Tweetdeck either won't work right, or when my Twitter account gets hacked. I've been hacked twice, but now that I've got a freakishly strong password, I haven't been hacked in almost four months.

2. When someone I'm building a jigsaw puzzle with palms a piece so that they get to put the last one in.

3. Some of the companies that our lumber company deals with seem to be in love with paper. So much mail that seems redundant or unnecessary. Send an email!

4. People who don't put their cart away at the grocery store, or who leave newspaper ads and garbage in the cart for the next person to deal with.

5. My hair, pretty much every day right now. Trying to grow my bangs out, and GGGGGRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!


Misery loves company. Usually my Friday Fives are pretty upbeat, but jump in here. What bugs you?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Recipe Thursday

Because it's so hot, I thought we could all use a nice, cool recipe that didn't call for heating up the house.

No Bake Drop Cookies


1 3/4 cups white sugar (or Splenda)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Directions

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, milk, butter, and cocoa. Bring to a boil, and cook for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in peanut butter, oats, and vanilla. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax paper. Let cool until hardened.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Book Signing Rescheduled and some Cool News!

The book signing Mary Connealy and I were supposed to have in June had to be rescheduled. The Grand Re-Opening weekend for Christian Book and Gift had to be postponed due to construction falling behind schedule.

The good news is: The book signing is back ON!  August 21st from 12-2 pm, Mary Connealy and I will be signing books at Christian Book and Gift.

The date will be a good one for me, since the day before we take Heather to college. I'll have something to look forward to and to keep my mind occupied instead of slogging through a morass of missing my baby-girl. Mary has promised to bring Kleenex for me. :)

Cool News to report as well.

Idaho Brides is now available for pre-order on Christian Book Distributors.

This is the 3-in-1 Collection for historical Idaho in  Heartsong's Romancing America series. The first book, Clara and the Cowboy, released in May. Lily and the Lawman and Maggie and the Maverick will release to the book club later this year. This 3-in-1 collection will release in June of next year.

I LOVE the cover. The woman is so pretty, and she looks a lot like I envisioned Lily looking in book two.

Even though the release is more than 10 months away, I'm still pretty excited. This will be the first time my work will be available in big box stores and Barnes and Noble stores.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tip for Tuesday

Today's tip is:

You have my permission to write a first draft that is junk, garbage, dreck, drivel, and trash.

This is a lesson I had to learn. I spent too much time agonizing over the next word, wondering if I was getting the characterization down, worrying about the pacing, and pretty much anything else I could think of to worry about. My inner editor is a tyrant, flooding me with doubt and fear that kept me from writing with any speed at all.

I've since learned, after participating in NaNo, setting word count goals for myself, and throttling that inner editor during the first draft, that the first draft doesn't have to be, in fact, it shouldn't be the best writing we can do. After all, if the first draft is the best, where will we go on edits?

One writing phrase I really love is: You can't edit a blank page.

Just get the words down. You can always edit later.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A new love

This past week, I found a new love.

On Twitter of all places.

It's #1k1hr.

The gist of it is: You are shooting to write one thousand words in one hour. And the more of your twitter friends you get to jump in with you and write, the better.

Last week, Katie G. and I played #1k1hr three days in a row, and I wrote more than 6500 words. Lots of fun is to be had as we check in and mark our progress. We encourage, chide, kid, and snipe at each other.

Katie described it as Ritalin for her writing brain. The short time and the friendly competition means it is easier to focus. She is so right!

Hopefully, I will get to play in the afternoons this week. I would love it if the word meter jumped up to about 32K words this week.

Have you tried #1k1hr?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

We Have a winner!


Our winner today of a copy of So Over It, by Stephanie Morrill is.....


RBooth43 who said:

I am still a teenager at heart. I would love to win this for my neighbor's daughter.


Congratulations! I'll be sending your email addy along to Stephanie ASAP.

Thank you to Stephanie, and in case you all missed it...my daughter did get her driver's license this week. She (and I) even survived her first solo driving mission.

Whew!

Friday, July 09, 2010

The Friday Five

Last week our family went on vacation Up North. My parents, visiting from Florida, came with us, and we had a wonderful time. (Though to them, everything in the US is Up North...even Georgia is up north to them!)

Five things from our vacation:

1. I learned that the camp boss at a logging camp was called The Push. He pushed people to do more work so they could make contract and get paid.

2. Whenever my parents visit, MN has unusual weather. When we were in Hibbing, MN, the overnight temperature was 37 degrees...a new record low for that day in Hibbing. Brrrr!

3. Words can't describe how huge the Hull-Rust-Mahoning Mine is. It is called the Grand Canyon of the North.

4. One cannot help but toss a few rocks into Lake Superior when you stand on the shore.

5. Minnesota is a beautiful state with a varied and rich history. The MN State Historical society does an amazing job maintaining more than 20 historical sites throughout the state, as well as a top-notch history center and library for the benefit of the people of the state.

What do you love about your state? Do you live in the state of your birth, or are you a transplant like me?

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Recipe Thursday

Lately, thanks to my brother buying me a charcoal grill, I've enjoyed grilling our supper. So today's recipe is one my baby brother Nathan taught me when he visited here last month.

Barbequed Pork Ribs

1 pkg boneless pork ribs
1 container savory rib rub (I use the McCormick kind)

Dump rib rub powder into a cake pan and roll each rib in it until every side is coated. Prep the grill, keeping all the coals on one side so you have a hot spot and a cooler spot. Make sure the coals are smoking really well and place the ribs on the grill. Turn them after about 20 minutes, moving the more well done ribs to the cooler side and the less well done directly over the coals. Another 20 minutes of grilling, then take one of the bigger ribs out and cut it to see if it is done all the way through. When the thickest pieces are cooked through, remove the ribs and bring them in to your hungry family.

I serve these with cole slaw, baked beans, and watermelon slices. They're so good, you might not even need any barbeque dipping sauce.

Do you like to grill? And if so, what's your favorite?

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

A guest blog with Stephanie Morrill

When I shamelessly e-mailed Erica and asked if we could do a giveaway for So Over It on her blog, she suggested we do it today in honor of Heather, who’s taking her driving test. You’ll do great, girl!



In high school, I remember feeling like it was never going to be my turn to get my license. Partly because I didn’t turn 16 until I was a junior, and by then my friends had all been driving for a year. So when I turned 26 on my last birthday and had the realization that I’ve had my license for TEN YEARS now, it was shocking. I have a very hard time remembering what life was like before I had the freedom to just grab my keys and go. (Well, I have a kid now so that freedom has been somewhat restricted, but you know what I mean.)

There’s lots of evidence around me that I am, truly, an adult. Like the mortgage payment. My husband and daughter. The fact that I’m having mild contractions as I type this. (We’re expecting our second child any day now.) And the calendar claims my ten year high school reunion takes place next year.


Yet there are still days when I’m surprised to discover I’m an adult. This is probably a big part of why I write for teens. I don’t feel like I have a very good handle on this “adult thing” yet, but I have the diploma that proves I survived high school.

When I’m in storyworld, I continue to find it natural and easy to slip into teenage skin. So Over It may be the final installment of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series, but it’s far from being my last young adult novel. Until they start holding insanely boring ceremonies at which they hand out certificates that say “You’ve successfully passed adulthood,” I think my writer’s heart will be teen-centered.


Author Bio

Stephanie Morrill is a twenty-something living in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and two kids. Her only talents are reading, writing, and drinking coffee, so career options were somewhat limited. Fortunately, she discovered a passion for young adult novels a few years ago and has been writing them ever since. Stephanie is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series and is currently working on other young adult projects. To check out her blog and read samples of her books, check out http://www.stephaniemorrillbooks.com/.



Back Cover Copy

Senior year is over and Skylar Hoyt is ready to forgive and forget. Or at least forget. She wants a fresh start where people don’t know about her partying past or her younger sister and her baby. A place where she won’t run in to her ex-boyfriend every time she leaves the house. When she gets the chance to spend the summer in Hawaii with her grandparents, Skylar jumps at the chance to get out of town. But when her sister needs her, Skylar has to swallow her pride and come back home. Will she be strong enough to rise above the gossip and live the life God wants for her?

Erica here: My review of So Over It...GO GET THIS BOOK! I loved the entire series. Stephanie's writing is so flawless and flows so beautifully, I couldn't stop reading it until I got to The End. I really cared about Skylar and Connor and worried about them all through the story. I wanted them to make the right choices, and despaired over them when they didn't. I wanted Skylar to find out the truth about the situation that set her on the path to reinventing herself...the path that taught her that she couldn't reinvent herself, rather, she had to let God do the reinventing.

I highly recommend The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series to teen girls (and their moms.) Great reads, great characters, tough choices, wrong turns, and a really satisfying ending.

Leave a comment here today, and on Friday I'll announce a winner of a copy of So Over It by Stephanie Morrill.




Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Time to Write!

Time to take a look at those goals....

My only goal this month re writing is to finish the first draft of Light To My Path. I've got a very good start on it, and I'm participating in the NovelTrack writing month through the ACFW. My stated goal there is 30K words for this month which would bring me very close to the end of the novel. Hopefully I can squeeze out a few more words and bring the first draft to a conclusion before August hits.

How about you? Have you set some goals for July? Are you participating in NovelTrack through ACFW?

Monday, July 05, 2010

Blessed to be a Blessing

Do you remember the hymn Blessed to be a Blessing? I remember singing it growing up, and recently someone told me a story that brought the words of the chorus back to me.

Blessed to be a blessing



Blessed to live Your love


Blessed to share with others every blessing from above


Blessed to walk in mercy


Blessed to light the way


Oh, Blessed to be a blessing every day

A friend of mine from my church, Roxane, is a nurse at a nursing home here in Rochester. She is a wonderful, encouraging lady who has enthusiastically bought my books and eagerly awaited each new arrival. Recently she shared with me that she had taken copies of my books to her co-workers at the nursing home. The co-workers passed them around and read them, and from the feedback, seemed to like them very much.

One particular co-worker brought The Bartered Bride back to Roxane and told Roxane that she had been contemplating suicide until she read the book. This woman could quote parts of the story, and she had memorized the key verse, Proverbs 21:1.

The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.

I got goosebumps and teary eyes when Roxane shared with me how one of my stories had such an impact on one of the readers. I write to entertain, to tell a good story that takes the reader to another place and time. I also write to honor God and point people to His love and grace, His forgiveness and provision.

God is so good, blessing me with the opportunity to do something I love that can also be a blessing to others.

How have you been blessed recently?