Monday, March 30, 2009

Too Many Options

Choosing paint colors should be easy, right? Not if your name is Susan. I'm standing in front of a wall of paint chips at my local home improvement center. With a sample of my rug in hand, I start the process of elimination.

Did you ever notice the names they give rather non-descript colors? Off-White becomes Wedding Silk. Two shades of brown are called, "Bird's Nest and American Bronze." All these choices are making my head pound.

Sometimes I feel the same way about words. Like colors, I enjoy a wide variety. Yet selecting the perfect phrase to show a character's emotion makes me want to curl into a fetal position. Should I say, "Sylvie gasped at Jerome's boldness?" Perhaps Silvie slaps Jerome's face. What's a girl to do?

My carpet swatch gave me a basis for picking out a paint color. Since my decorating style leans toward neutrals with accessories providing punches of color, I ignored all the bright, hit-you-in-the-face shades. Eventually, I settled on a nice tan for the woodwork and the palest yellow I could find for the walls. (I know. I know. Yellow isn't neutral, but a little surprise doesn't hurt.)

With Silvie and Jerome, I must discover that reference point to build upon. Is Silvie a timid type? We can hit the backspace key on the slap. Is she sophisticated? She might lift her chin and come back with a withering retort.

Hmm, I never realized selecting paint colors had so much in common with writing. :)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Round-Up - #42

Approaching my mother's apartment building, I spotted a purple crocus in full bloom. It cheered my heart to see this little flower announcing the arrival of Spring.

Over at Camy's Loft, she's posted an unusual recipe for chocolate cake in a mug. I haven't tried it yet, but thought all of you would find it a fun (and delicious) project.

With all the bad news out there, I'm happy to report some positive developments. Abingdon Press is launching a Christian fiction line in late summer. Thanks to my friend, Jill, for providing the link to this Publisher's Weekly article.

Tiff Colter's Balanced Life newsletter appeared in my inbox last week. Her website provides tips on weathering financial difficulties. The articles ranged from a money-saving recipe, a new twist on the magic of compound interest, and announcements on future webinars. Sign up for her newsletter and start receiving her practical, easy-to-understand wisdom.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On My Nightstand - The Face by Angela Hunt

Whenever I read an Angela Hunt book, I think, "she can't possibly top this." As usual, she proved me wrong. The story hooked me from the first page.

Sarah Sims was born with a rare, life-threatening disability. Painful surgeries stabilized her and repaired some of the damage, but she remained deformed. The author gets to the core of this character, showing sensitivity to the many psychological, physical, and social aspects of her life.

The book's spiritual tones come in the form of life decisions and allegory rather than an overt message. There are short discussions of faith and ethics. Angela's masterful insertion of life principles gets the point across without causing a head-on collision with opposing viewpoints.

Angela came up with a twist and climax for this story I won't ever forget. I carried this book with me everywhere in case I'd have a free moment to read even one page. I give a big thumbs up for this gripping tale.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Flapping Our Arms

Many people tried to invent an airplane prior to the Wright Brothers. Some of the experiments were downright funny. We laugh when we see the homemade wings and people flapping their arms as they jump from a roof.

As writers, we sometimes slip from the hard work/trusting God mode into the striving/trusting our own strength and abilities mode. We rush around, try to imitate everyone else, and forget that God has a unique plan for our lives. Our bodies and minds send signals that we're burning out. Discouragement, frustration, depression, and physical symptoms bombard us. They're screaming, "Pay attention. You're flapping your arms."

Father, when we get wrapped up in our own plans, in our own way of doing things, please give us a gentle reminder to stop and consider our actions.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

We Have A Winner!

A big Christian Writer/Reader Connection cheer for Jaime! You've won the drawing for Christa Parrish's debut novel, "Home Another Way."

Watch for more book drawings in the future. You never know when the Book Drawing Fever will hit me. :)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Round-Up - #41

The book drawing for "Home Another Way" by Christa Parrish is almost over. The deadline is tomorrow, 3/21/09. Don't forget to include your email address in your comment. I love giving away books!

Have you ever dreamed up an unusual character name or a dramatic scene, and decided to put it aside for future use? In her article, "No Holds Barred Writing," C.J. Darlington urges us to go for the gusto. Use that name or that brilliant phrase.

Finally, Sherryl Clark asks, "If you're not writing, are you a writer?" Her analysis made me squirm a bit. I know I'm not writing enough. Even though journaling counts as writing, it won't add to my novel's word count.

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

On My Nightstand - Along Came Love by Carrie Turansky

Lauren Woodman returns to her hometown of Tipton, Vermont, with her son, Toby. She's in the process of building a business and settling her child into a new environment when a snowstorm brings Wes Evans into her life.

Both Lauren and Wes have a past that haunts their every waking moment. They've learned to forgive others, but can they forgive themselves and move on with their lives?

"Along Came Love" is more than a sweet love story. Carrie explores how secrets can cause heartache and misunderstanding. She communicates the angst both Lauren and Wes suffer and the necessity for honesty in a relationship.

This book not only had me rooting for Lauren and Wes, but ministered to some painful areas in my own life. Thanks Carrie.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hear Ye, Hear Ye: Book Drawing

Author Christa Parrish sent me an autographed copy of her book, "Home Another Way," to give as a gift or a blog giveaway.

In case you missed it, I reviewed this book last Wednesday (3/11/09). Christa's writing is superb, the story compelling, and the characters unforgettable.

The rules: 1) The contest will run from Wed., 3/16/09, through Sat., 3/21/09. A winner will be drawn from the entries on Sun., 3/22/09. 2) Entries will be accepted from those living in the Continental United States. 3) Leave a comment with your email address, so I can notify you if you win.

That's it! Don't miss an opportunity to get a real page turner from an up and coming author.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Round-Up - #40

Before ol' man winter could return and smack us with another storm, Mom and I took full advantage of last Saturday's brilliant weather. Yes, I took a day to relax. No working on the Great American Novel. No feverish (and seemingly futile) attempts to paint the back bedroom. Instead we prowled through a Farmer's Market and an Antique Mall. Although we didn't buy a thing, we enjoyed each other's company and the balmy weather.

Speaking of the weather, if you need a little sunshine, pop over to Christian Fiction Online Magazine. Randy Ingermanson a.k.a. Randy Rooney's latest encounter with Sam the Plumber provided a hefty dose of side-splitting humor. Valerie interviewed Liz Curtis Higgs, who appears on the cover, and Jim Rubart illustrates the biggest mistakes authors make with their websites in his article, "Quantum Marketing."

And now, the answer to yesterday's test. Lift your foot, move it clockwise. Draw the number "6" with your right hand, BUT...start with the loop. Since you're moving in the same direction as your foot, it will continue to move clockwise.

Finally, Christa Sterken's short, but powerful, blog post, "Living By Default," will get the wheels turning in your mind.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, March 12, 2009


I've tried this, and couldn't outsmart my right foot. I even tried it away from the computer, and it still worked. Try this and get a good laugh. There are some things the brain cannot handle.

An orthopaedic surgeon developed this little test.

1. While sitting at your desk in front of your computer, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.

2. Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand. Your foot will change direction.

Is there an answer to this little test? Or is it true you can't outsmart your right foot? There is, but you have to think outside the box. Let's see if anyone comes up with the answer. :) Check for the answer in tomorrow's post.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

On My Nightstand - Home Another Way by Christa Parrish

Sarah Graham lives life in the fast lane, but finds herself in desperate financial straits. She learns her estranged father has left her an inheritance. Upon her arrival in Jonah, New York, she discovers there are strings attached to the estate.

Christa Parrish's writing reminds me of a skilled athlete. She makes it look easy, but I know a lot of work went into this debut novel. Her descriptions of both setting and the emotional landscape are natural and flow through the storyline without seeming contrived or formulaic.

Sarah Graham grew on me as the story unfolded. At first, I had difficulty connecting with her. The writing pulled me along, willing me to see how a sleepy little town could impact this wild, self-destructive woman.

Be forewarned, if you need a good night's sleep, wait until morning before picking up Home Another Way. Once you start reading, you'll have a difficult time extracting yourself from the story.

Monday, March 9, 2009


No, I'm not talking about the popular TV series. CSI stands for, "Connection-Stability-Internal." According to Tamara Lowe's quiz, this is my Motivational DNA (trademark).

Who is Tamara Lowe? She's a successful motivational speaker and author. Not only that, she's a Christian. She's shared the stage with 4 presidents, sports stars, and numerous celebrities. BTW, all proceeds from her book are going to children's charities.

She helps people discover what motivates them, de-motivates them, and how to capitalize on those areas. In all aspects of life, this information can be a valuable tool.

My CSI motivators: Facts and information, peer respect, sincere appreciation, private recognition, specific positive feedback, an inspiring work environment, co-workers they enjoy, clearly defined objectives, a sense of accomplishment, and time to reflect and plan.

Pop over to her website and see what motivates you. I hope you'll comment on the results of your quiz and what you think of her ideas.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Hi Everyone - After a commenter questioned the necessity of registering cell phones with the DO NOT CALL list, I checked There is a tiny grain of truth to the email I received, but there are FCC regulations in place to prevent cell numbers from being published. Check out for the story. Sorry about that. Susan

Friday Round-Up - #39

In case you haven't heard, cell phone numbers will be released to telemarketing companies next month. To get on the National Do Not Call list, call the following number from your cell phone. 1-888-382-1222 It will block your number for five years. I've taken action to prevent telemarketing calls to my cell phone. It only took a minute.

I admire moms who write. Juggling a writing career and homeschooling is truly a Herculean job. Susan May Warren recently shared some tips on how to accomplish this task at Writer...Interrupted.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Author Interview - Kathi Macias

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer, who has authored nearly 30 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. A popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences, she recently won the prestigious 2008 member of the year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) at the annual Golden Scrolls award banquet. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al, where the two of them spend their free time riding their Harley.

1) How did your writing journey begin?

I ADORE books and read voraciously as a child. As a teenager, I told my boyfriend (now my husband) that I was going to be a writer someday. I worked on the school newspapers, won some poetry contests, but then got sidetracked being a wife and mom. After becoming a Christian at the age of 26, I went back to school, studying journalism at USC and taking a three-year Bible course at a local college. In the meantime I worked on church newsletters and became a newspaper columnist and string reporter. Eventually I made the switch to Christian publishing by landing a job at Gospel Light/Regal Books in my hometown of Ventura, CA. The rest, as they say, is history.

2) I see you write both non-fiction and fiction. Have you found this difficult in terms of developing an audience? What kinds of marketing efforts are working for you?

Great question! It is quite a balancing act, I’m afraid. It’s a bit easier to establish a fiction audience, though even my novels are varied in scope and focus. But the nonfiction is really tough because I’m not an “expert” in any particular field. I do a lot of radio interviews and am currently getting ready to do an extensive TV tour, but primarily I use the Internet—book trailers, blog tours/interviews, posting related articles on Crosswalk, etc. Without a doubt, Crosswalk is one of the most effective means of staying visible on the net, and my book sales are always boosted by a new Crosswalk posting. Speaking at women’s groups, writers’ conferences, libraries, and civic groups are also excellent means of exposure and book sales.

3) Is there a common theme that runs through your fiction and non-fiction?

Yes. Though there is always an evangelistic thrust in everything I write, I also have a desire to “preach to the choir,” meaning I desperately want Christians to move beyond being satisfied with a comfortable existence in this life and fire insurance in the hereafter. Whether I’m writing a serious discipleship book like Beyond Me or a humor book like, "How Can I Run a Tight Ship When I’m Surrounded by Loose Cannons," or even my upcoming, “Extreme Devotion,” fiction series, my heart is to encourage Christians to “take it to the next level.” As expressed in my, “Beyond Me” book, there is so much more…beyond self!

4) What are you working on at this time?

I am currently busy marketing my two recent releases (mentioned in the previous question) and the two releasing in April, a novel titled, "My Son John," and a gift book titled, "Mothers of the Bible Speak to Mothers of Today." In addition, I am under contract for five novels, all to release between January 2010 and January 2011. Four of them are a series—the first venture into fiction for New Hope Publishers—with each book loosely based on the real-life story of a believer in another land, who is persecuted and/or martyred for his/her faith. The fifth novel is a stand-alone historical book to be co-authored with Susan Wales (wife of movie producer Ken Wales of “Pink Panther” and “Amazing Grace” fame) titled “First Allegiance,” scheduled to release in Fall 2010 from Abingdon Press. I also write articles for various online and print publications. All of this makes for a very busy 2009!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Ugly Sandals

Last summer, I spent weeks hunting for a new pair of sandals. The old ones were so worn that it became a dire necessity. In case you haven't guessed by now, shoe shopping is rather stressful for me.

Mom and I hit all the major department stores and shoe stores in our area. We came up empty. At that point, I couldn't try on another pair of sandals even if I found one. My feet threatened to go on strike if I didn't go home and rest.

Finally, we stumbled upon a pair of sandals that might fill the bill. They were the right size and color, but there was one problem. They were UGLY! Desperation won out, and I bought them.

Well, after a couple of weeks, a strange thing happened. I fell in love with those sandals. My feet danced through the day as if they were encased in fluffy clouds. Every time I slipped into my Ugly Sandals, they took on a beauty I hadn't initially seen.

Books are sometimes like those Ugly Sandals. Maybe the setting, story line, or characters are not to your liking in the first chapter or two. Then something magical occurs. You find the heroine is not as shallow as you originally thought. The story takes a sharp turn that takes your breath away. By the end, you're raving about this book to all your friends and buying everything the author has ever written.

Practice patience, and give that book more than a page to capture your interest. Your ugly book may become your all-time favorite.