Monday, May 20, 2013
I've gone through phases as a reader. For a long time, I read only mysteries. Agatha Christie books and Nero Wolfe stories occupied my time and bookshelves. Then, I read lots of romance. Peretti grabbed me with his supernatural fiction. After a time, I discovered a couple of things:
1) I selected books without any thought.
2) I was bored.
At that point, I decided to mix it up. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life. It kept my reading fresh and fun.
I keep a list of the books I've read during the year. Due to my own publishing journey, the list is shorter than usual for 2013. Last year, I read over 50 books. Here's what I've read so far in 2013:
Echoes by Kristen Heitzmann (Suspense with an element of romance)
Heart Out of Hiding by Jan Cline (Non-fiction)
From A Distance by Tamera Alexander (Historical romance)
Sacred Sabbath by Marja Meijers (Non-fiction)
Providence: Once Upon a Second Chance by Chris Coppernoll (Fiction - not sure of the genre)
Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund (Historical romance)
Arms of Love by Kelly Long (Amish historical)
There are many more books on my TBR pile and on my Wish List. Non-fiction, contemporary, sci-fi, futuristic, historical romance, and mystery are all represented.I also want to read books written by fellow authors at Helping Hands Press. My list keeps growing.
Writers & Readers: What are you reading now? What books are on your TBR pile?
Photo Credit: kovik
Friday, May 17, 2013
I'm happy to welcome fellow Helping Hands Press author, Carrie Fancett Pagels to Christian Writer/Reader Connection!
1) Please tell us a little about your journey to publication? I was a psychologist for 25 years. I wrote as a child and in high school I was on the yearbook and the newspaper staff. In college I was the "key liner" for the college magazine. I dropped out of grad school to write a secular novel in the 1970's. Went back and got my doctorate. Kept writing stories. Was published in nonfiction.
This publication was a "God thing" and I shared about this on MaryLu Tyndall's blog. Here's the link: http://crossandcutlass.
blogspot.com/search?updated- max=2013-04-22T00:30:00-07:00& max-results=7
My story is about radical obedience and my efforts to follow God's will
for my writing also resulted in this story being released and receiving
favor. I am very grateful for all the assistance God sent my way!
From having Murray Pura contact me, to having a blurb available from a
pulled proposal, to getting to spend several hours with Julian Charity
of Shirley Plantation, being allowed to use a picture taken by their
staff photographer, having awesome Civil War writer Kathleen Maher as my
critique partner, to having amazing bloggers on my group blog who
supported me, to the readers God sent my way--it really was like a
whirlwind of awesome blessings!!! To be part of this big anthology with
all these great authors is pretty humbling.
2) How did you discover Shirley Plantation? My inlaws were visiting from Chicago and we wanted to go to some of the plantations along the James River. I thought my MIL would enjoy this. Mind you, this is many years ago when I was still working as a psychologist. The first time we went, Shirley was closed and we were very disappointed. So on one of their subsequent trips we went to Shirley. The plantation buildings flabbergasted me because there were so many colonial era buildings, intact, in one place. I suspected that there might be nothing like it out there anywhere--and I have discovered that is correct! An amazing place and the staff are some of the most wonderful people I have met on my writing journey! So unbelievably helpful!
3) Time management is an issue for all authors. How do you balance writing with life in general? I really try to keep God first, then my family and then the writing. One thing I have found is to have accountability partners and I am blessed to have several who really help me. Also, I try to schedule my writing in segments so that I don't overtax myself. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and I have to manage my health, too, so I can write effectively.
4) What other projects do you have in the pipeline? I have a three book proposal that I am working on that is also set along the James River. On one of the manuscripts I already have four authors who have read and endorsed the book and it is not yet contracted. Praying this series will be, soon, though. I am writing a story that is the first one and I have enjoyed going back to colonial times for this one!
Bio - Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.d.
Carrie Fancett Pagels writes "romantic" historical fiction. Her debut release Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance, a Kindle Civil War best seller, is part of a multi-author anthology headed up by Murray Pura.
Carrie is represented by Joyce Hart, of Hartline Literary Agency and is owner/administrator of two group blogs: "Colonial Quills" and Overcoming With God." Carrie was a psychologist for 25 years. She lives in Virginia with her family.
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Carrie-Fancette-Pagels/317053071710640?fref=ts
Facebook Personal Page: http://www.facebook.com/carriefancettpagels
Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=131454255&trk=tab pro
GIVEAWAY! Carrie has generously offered to giveaway a set of notecards. This is open to U.S. residents only. Please leave a comment and an email address, so we can contact you if you win. I'll announce the winner on Friday, 5/24/13. Carrie will send the notecards to the winner.
Thanks for visiting with us today, Carrie!
Monday, May 13, 2013
Formulas have their place. They're valuable in mathematics. Recipes are formulas of another kind. If you want people to eat your cakes, pies, and cookies, following a recipe is a good idea.
What about writing books? Is there a formula for producing something publishable? People can learn how to write. Get the grammar, punctuation, and spelling down. Practice various techniques to achieve a desired effect. Yet this isn't the be all, end all of authorship.
I've read some novels over the years that are technically almost perfect but left me empty. Where's the heart, the author's passion for their story?
While I have many thoughts on this subject, I don't pretend to have all the answers. I depend on the Ultimate Writer (God) to inspire and give me the ability to share via the written word. I'm not saying that He dictates and I write. No, I'm very involved in the process. Yet without this vital step, my words lack the life-changing heart I seek as a reader and a writer.
There's a place for the nuts and bolts of writing, but it should never replace heart.
Writers: What do you think? Have you ever written something, and it seems to fall flat? How do you keep techniques from replacing your passion for a subject/story?
Readers: What makes a book special to you?
Photo Credit: wito
Friday, May 10, 2013
Daniel Darling posted an article on how to get started writing. He gives some great tips that can benefit beginning writers.
Writers: Can you share some tips with newbies?
Readers: Have you ever thought of trying your hand at writing? Did any of these tips help you?
Have a blessed weekend!
Photo credit: dlritter
Monday, May 6, 2013
The Best Laid Plans
As my (ahem) 39th and holding birthday approached in February, Mom inquired about my cake preferences. "Don't fuss, Mom. I'd be happy with a couple of brownies."
I later discovered Mom had other ideas. My day fell on a Saturday, and we had a couple of commitments with two ministries. We were also supposed to visit a friend Sunday afternoon, so there were ample "cake opportunities."
Those plans were cancelled, and a rather large sheet cake sat in her refrigerator. We enjoyed our own little party, but what could we do with the leftovers? Mom and I decided she could share it with her Wednesday Bible Study group. They usually have a crowd, and they finished it off for us.
As a writer, I sometimes make big plans. While goals are a positive, they don't always work out the way we hoped. Early in the process, I'd agreed to help with a small regional conference. My year was mapped out from start to finish.
Then the unthinkable happened. My husband was diagnosed with a virulent form of leukemia. All of my attention focused on him. Those writing goals no longer held the importance I'd attached to them.
During those times, my perspective went through a major shift. Writing settled into the correct spot on the priority list behind the Lord and my family.
After my husband passed away and I survived my own challenges, I looked at the experiences sitting in my mental refrigerator. Could the Lord do something with these leftovers? I was able to serve others slices of hope and God's faithfulness through non-fiction pieces, an email newsletter, and fiction.
When we're open to His leading, He takes our ruined plans and re-purposes them to minister love to others.
Writers: What experiences have you gone through in your writing life that God turned around for your good?
Readers: What difficult times have you seen God convert from lemons to lemonade?
Photo credit: wjs7652
Friday, May 3, 2013
Blogging Buddy, Jessica Nelson, did an interesting post over at BookingIt. What happens when "should" and "want" collide?
I'm saving this one for future reference.
Writers: How do you ramp up the tension in your writing?
Readers: In real life we're often faced with inner conflict between what we want and what we should do. How do you resolve those type of issues?
Have a blessed weekend!
Lena Yoder and Adam Wyse knew they were meant for each other, but life interferes with their plans. The Amish face constant pressure from both the Patriots and the Tories. Adam is torn between honoring his pacifist Amish roots and fighting for freedom.
When Adam distances himself from his true love, she is forced to seek help from his older brother, Isaac. The impossibilities of her situation weigh heavily upon her, and she knows only God can turn it around.
This story started off at a slow pace, and I almost gave up on it. Oh, but I'm so glad I hung in there. The character development, especially of Adam Wyse, was superlative and the ending satisfying.
I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads. Enjoy!
Writers and Readers: When a book doesn't grab you immediately, do you hang in there and give it a chance? Why?
Monday, April 29, 2013
When it comes to reading and writing, I need to see the characters, the setting, and the action. I want to readers feel like they're part of the story rather than watching it from the outside.
Strong visuals play an important role in achieving this type of involvement. Here are some of the ways I design novel settings:
1. Visit botanical gardens - Yes, folks, I smell the roses, and take in their colors, shapes, and how they blend with other flowers. This gives me a general sense of how gardeners create pleasing vignettes, including water features, birdbaths, etc. Rather than take notes, I prefer photos to refresh my memory.
2. Site Visits - My novel, The Moses Conspiracy, starts off in Washington, D.C., but most of the action takes place in Bird-in-Hand, PA. I chose those two settings for several reasons.
A. I've been to both places more than once.
B. Bird-in-Hand, PA is a popular tourist destination. As such, they would experience
more freedom than non-tourist zones in 2025.
C. I was able to show interaction between non-Amish and Amish characters.
3. Photography Websites - I soak up photos on http://www.sxc.hu and http://123rf.com. A simple picture can not only help with my setting, but also trigger ideas for an action scene.
4. Social Media - I'm new to Pinterest, but already I'm collecting ideas for settings and clothing styles.
Writers: How do you think outside the box when it comes to setting?
Readers: What kind of settings do you like in books? Historical? Contemporary? Please share.
Photo Credit: iammi-z
Friday, April 26, 2013
A mixture of love and guilt drive Lily Young to find her sister. She ignores danger and pursues her goals, while working as a photographer's assistant.
Connell McCormick, a lumber boss in Harrison, Michigan, works hard and largely ignores the debauchery around him. Lily forces him to face the ugly truth, and challenges his way of life.
Jody Hedlund captured the setting and drew me into Lily and Connell's world. During one action scene, I could almost hear a glass bottle whizzing by my head.
There's plenty of danger, romance, and action here for the reader. Jody is on a roll, and I'm looking forward to her next book.
Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher provided this book. The opinions expressed are my own, and I received no remuneration for this recommendation.
Writers & Readers: Have you read any of Jody's books? Which one is your favorite?
Monday, April 22, 2013
Photo Credit: Susan J. Reinhardt
I love to decorate. I especially love to find treasures at bargain prices. The lamp in the picture was a yard sale find, and fit my vision for my reading nook.
Writing a novel requires a lot of imagination. Not only do we have to develop multi-faceted characters, but also the entire stage upon which they share their story. Where can we get ideas for interior design for our characters' homes?
1. We can find inspiration in our own homes. The above picture became my model for a lamp passed down from Ellie Zimmerman's Mom in my book, The Moses Conspiracy. It's a huge help to have a visual when writing a scene.
2. Stroll through a furniture store, linen department, or any place that sells items for the home. Get a picture in your mind of what styles your characters would choose for their home.
3. Browsing through magazines is another fabulous way to narrow down the choices for our home setting.
Writers: Where do you find ideas for your characters' home sweet home?
Readers: Where do you get ideas for your own home?
Sunday, April 21, 2013
You've won The Moses Conspiracy Blog Tour Giveaway. Thank you for pinning the giveaway on Pinterest. I've contacted you by email and delivered your pdf of the book and the $25.00 Amazon gift card.
Thanks to all those who participated! The Moses Conspiracy can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.
Friday, April 19, 2013
Mary Keeley blogs at Books and Such about a possible new genre for CBA - Baby Boomer Lit. As authors/writers, it's interesting to look at trends and decide if they're something we might consider.
Writers: How did you decide on your present genre?
Readers: What's your favorite genre and why?
Have a blessed weekend!
Monday, April 15, 2013
Photo Credit: Susan J. Reinhardt
Nostalgia, vintage items, and antique shops have one thing in common: ME! I made the shadow box in the picture. I took older items and photos of my parents and made them into a collage.
Research doesn't have to be about reading textbooks or sifting through piles of boring clippings to find that one gem. My adrenaline flows at the mere thought of visiting a historical site or an antique shop. There's something about seeing memorabilia from bygone days that makes me rush back to my computer with fresh material.
This may seem odd since I'm writing Christian Speculative Fiction. Yet, I've seen how history can impact the future. Decisions and events have shaped our present.
So, my friends, go have fun with your research. Sample different cultures, foods, and sights both past and present.
Writers: What does your fun research look like?
Readers: What activities and hobbies make your heart sing?
Friday, April 12, 2013
Here they are in alphabetical order!
First, we have Jean Fischer, a talented Author and Freelance Writer. We met on Facebook and clicked immediately. Jean is one of my critique partners, and she's dynamite at fixing computer/software problems. Having sat in the editor's chair, her advice on the publishing process always hits the target. She's also a tender-hearted friend, fellow Pinterest enthusiast, and shares many of my hobbies. I hope we meet in person someday.
Karen Lange and I met online through a mutual friend, Mary Ann Diorio. She's an online writing teacher, blogger, and aspiring author. We get along so famously that we're collaborating on a book project. She's part of the critique trio you see here, and I value her suggestions and wisdom. We haven't met in person yet, but we're working on it. We've become fast friends, and I can't imagine not having her in my life.
Jeanette Levellie and I met through blogging. This multi-talented lady is an author, speaker, blogger, and vocalist. Her insightful humor has delighted thousands. We've had the privilege of meeting in person for a conference, and our friendship has been a huge blessing in my life. Jen truly walks the walk, as well as talking the talk. I doubt if my book would be in such good shape without her editing skills.
I'm so grateful for these dear friends. God blessed me with these kind, godly women, all experts in their own right. They've not only enriched my writing, but also my personal walk with the Lord.
Writers and Readers: Besides family, who has supported your dreams and goals? Have you made meaningful connections through Social Media?
The Blog Tour Stops Here Today: The Writer's Alley
Have a fabulous weekend!
Monday, April 8, 2013
African violets weave in and out of my childhood memories. My mother is a huge fan and always had at least a couple of them in the house. Her enthusiasm has rubbed off on me. Someone gave me a beautiful specimen that is perched on a shelf above my desk at work.
I've learned a thing or two about these sometimes finicky plants:
1. They must be watered from the bottom. Get moisture on their leaves, and you might as well throw them on the compost heap.
2. My African Violet sits under a fluorescent light and shows its happiness by abundant flowering.
3. The plants also favor an eastern exposure. If they're in a spot that's too sunny, the leaves will burn.
For those of you who love a writer, we need a few things to keep us happy and productive:
1. Encouraging words feed our creativity. Please be kind when critiquing or we'll shrivel up like a wet African Violet leaf. Oh, and a little chocolate wouldn't hurt either!
2. Coax us out of our writing cave once in awhile to bask in the great outdoors. Our words will flourish and spill out onto the page.
3. Too much play and not enough seat-in-chair time will have the opposite effect. We'll be tempted to leave the computer dark and gathering dust.
The key to both a healthy African Violet plant and a healthy writer revolves around a single word: balance.
Writers: How do you keep a balance between family and writing?
Readers: How do you juggle the many demands of your life?
Photo Credit: Susan J. Reinhardt
The Blog Tour Stops Here: Loree Huebner