Monday, June 29, 2009

God's POV

For a number of months, I've turned a problem over in my mind. Looking at every angle, I worked myself into a giant worry knot. When all was said and done, those ruminations left me frozen and unable to make a decision.

The patience and counsel of several people finally melted the iceberg like the blazing sun. Little cracks widened into deep fissures, and the jam broke. Finally, I saw the problem from God's point of view. I asked forgiveness for trying to work things out in my own way and in my own strength, and then asked for His wisdom.

I already knew the answer, but didn't like it. Have you ever been in that situation? You see I thought I knew what results that particular decision would bring. When I came into agreement with His plan, He gave me the right words, and the problem was solved.

As a writer, I sometimes run into the dreaded writer's block. It's often triggered by a plot hole or some other technical difficulty. I over analyze, run to the Internet or blogs for answers, which feeds the worry beast.

A first reader pointed out an area that troubled her. I got bummed out, wanted to quit, thought the whole book was garbage, and couldn't write a sentence. As I prayed, the Lord gave me an idea. With a few words, the problem disappeared.

When I'm stuck in writer's block, I stop looking at things from my perspective or the perspectives of my characters and look at it from God's perspective.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Round-Up - #56

Begonias are my flower of choice this year. With limited funds for gardening, I decided the big Rieger begonias provided huge red and yellow blooms with fewer plants. They're thriving in my shady front yard.

Another delight are the Black-Eyed Susies that sprang up from last year's batch. The plant has at least eight buds ready to burst open any day. To take a cue from a commercial, "what's in your garden?"

I'm sure a lot of you read Jody Hedlund's blog. In case you missed it, she's doing posts on book proposals. I love the way she's boiled everything down to the essentials. Sometimes I find how-to books like technical manuals: hard to understand and confusing. This is a ready-reference version. Thanks, Jody. :)

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Author Interview - Christina Berry

1. Welcome to Christian Writer/Reader Connection, Christina. To open our discussion, please tell us about your story.

The Familiar Stranger is about a couple going through a rough patch in their marriage. When an accident incapacitates the husband, their relationship must be redefined. which would be a lot easier to do if BIG secrets from his past didn't raise their ugly heads. Despite the upheaval, the choices they make involving forgiveness and trust might allow a new beginning. Or...they might not.

2. Some Christian writers argue that fiction is first and foremost entertainment and decry any "agenda driven" stories. What's your opinion on the subject?

I say we're all writing with an agenda, whether we recognize it or not. Maybe it's to show what a godly romance looks like or to draw attention to child abuse, maybe to attempt to understand why people are capable of such evil. I felt called to share what God has taught me about forgiveness. That is definitely my agenda, which correlates with my tagline, "Live transparently -- Forgive extravagantly." 3. How do you manage wearing so many hats: mother, teacher, author, foster mother?

As a mother of young children (2, 8, & 10), and currently serving as a foster mother, time IS my biggest challenge. I have to make sure my family knows they come first, but to balance that with treating writing as a career. Summer is easier because it tends to be a dry time for substitute teaching. My recently- launched editing business has consumed all of my writing hours for a month and a half. Time for me to set better boundaries so I can progress in my writing as well.

While the idea of writing or editing may seem hard, I usually get quite a lot done in a short amount of time once I start. My pastor reminded me in a sermon that an object in motion tends to stay in motion. That applies to our writing. A little momentum can go a long way!

4. Where are you in the process right now?

I recently turned in my dedication, acknowledgments, and discussion questions. The manuscript has also been sent to a number of my mentors, who've agreed to read it for endorsement.

As writers, I think we dream about our dedications for years. I've pondered this particular book's dedication for months. And yet, when I wrote it on paper, it looked like mere words. Hopefully, I was able to capture some emotion.

With the acknowledgments, I'm still terrified I missed someone. In fact, I was all set to send it to Moody when I realized I'd left my wonderful agents off the list! I probably won't rest easy until the book has been out for a few months and no one asks why I left them out.

Oh, the release date might be helpful. LOL! September 1, 2009! Though I've heard rumors that Moody's books tend to release a few days early. You can pre-order Familiar Stranger at Amazon or Christianbook.

Thanks, Christina, for a great interview. I'm looking forward to reading Familiar Stranger.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Many moons ago, I started a job as a receptionist. My orientation included a pep talk from one of the salespeople.

Mr. Marketing said something to this effect: "You're a very important person in this organization. When people call here, you're the first contact they have with us. How you treat them reflects on the company. Smile when you answer the phone, and give them your full attention."

Actually, he was giving the Golden Rule and didn't even know it. As we go to conferences, interact on blogs, in emails, critique groups, and writer loops, let's put our best foot forward. The uncertainty, doubts about our ability, nervousness about meeting editors and agents, and plain old fright affect all of us at one time or another. Sometimes the most successful writer needs a word of encouragement.

Make someone else's day, and someone will make yours. Has someone ever been especially gracious to you when you were feeling down? Care to share? :)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Round-Up - #55

Laura Spencer gives a light-hearted look at freelancer personalities, asking, "which one are you?" She describes the loner, the anti-corporate type, etc.

This week I discovered a shop catering to writers. Now, be mindful that this isn't a Christian site, so there's a few less than tasteful entries. Cafe Press sells mugs, shirts, tote bags, and other products with sayings relating to writing and other things. I ended up spending a half hour scrolling through their offerings. They're also more reasonable than some of the other websites with writer items.

A new antique/thrift store opened in our area a few weeks ago. Last Thursday, I stopped in to explore it. I picked up a cool item from the $1.00 table. It's called, "Punctuation and Capitalization Flipper." Over four hundred rules, definitions, and examples are arranged on quick-reference cards.

My fascination drew me to their website, and surprise, they have flippers on many subjects, including writing. They're great for people 6-Adult. I can think of many uses, but writers top my list. Homeschoolers would also benefit.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

On My Nightstand - Surrender the Wind by Rita Gerlach

No, our friend, Rita's, book has not yet hit the shelves. She was kind enough to send me an Advanced Reader Copy.

Seth Braxton survives the American Revolution. All he wants is his Virginia home, a peaceful life, marry, and raise a family. Instead, duty to his sister, and a painting of a lovely woman draw him to England, the country he recently fought against.

There he meets Juleah, not only a striking beauty but also a woman with a mind of her own and a kind heart. He is smitten, but wonders if she can love a man, who is an American patriot.

Seth takes the reins of Ten Width, the family estate, while comforting his sister, who has lost her grandfather, husband, and son. Odd things begin happening. His persistent investigation uncovers a terrible conspiracy.

The book pulls you into a time period when life for even the gentry was hard and unforgiving. Rita kept the story moving and this reader turning the pages. Once the book comes out in its final form, I know it will find its way into the hearts of historical fiction lovers.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Giver and the Gift

As a child, Christmas filled my heart with excitement. I couldn't wait to rip open my gifts and play with them. However, one rule stood firm in our house. You read the card out loud, opened the gift, and then went over to the person and thanked them. If the gift came via mail, a phone call followed receipt of the present.

Every day, God blesses us in countless ways. When He opens the door for publication, do we go charging through without first expressing our appreciation? In our exuberance, do we forget that He is the giver of this writing gift, and we are stewards of it?

The next time we open an acceptance letter, before the Snoopy Dance and whoops of joy, let's breathe a prayer of thanksgiving to the One, who gave us this talent.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday Round-Up - #54

Novel Journey Guest Blogger, Cheryl Wyatt, talks about: Romance: The Same Old, Same Old? She gives the writer tips on cliche scenarios to avoid, and how to make romance writing fresh. See the 6/3/09 post.

Looking to unlock your creativity? Here are a few suggestions compliments of Kay Day and Michele Cushatt. (My Personal favorite is the coloring book.)

I came across a website called, "Hurray God." They're looking for true stories about answered prayer from real people. If your story is published in their book, you'll get a free copy and $50.00. I enjoyed reading the sample stories and exploring the website.

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

On My Nightstand - Reluctant Runaway by Jill Elizabeth Nelson

I almost didn't buy this book because I didn't like the cover. However, Jill is one of my Facebook friends, and the back cover copy intrigued me. I'm so glad I didn't judge the book by its cover.

Desiree "Desi" Jacobs owns a security company. When a museum protected by her firm is robbed, she's not a happy camper. Her friend's sister disappears and is a suspect in the theft of Indian artifacts. Desi finds herself up to her neck in trouble.

Her boyfriend, FBI Agent Tony Lucano, worries about her amateur sleuthing. He knows how fast situations become life-threatening. When Desi's investigation collides with one of Tony's cases, the sparks really fly.

Desi and Tony rely on God to direct their paths and bring down the shadowy enemies that threaten to destroy their lives and those of many innocent people. Usually, I have trouble putting a book down. This book was so scary in spots, I HAD to put it down.

Jill Elizabeth Nelson brings the story to a rip-roaring climax. If you enjoy stories about unusual occupations, mystery, and intrigue, you'll love, "Reluctant Runaway."

Monday, June 8, 2009

Construction Zone

Planning a home renovation project is fun, but few people warn you about the disaster you'll live in until it's finished. Years ago, a project meant everything from the kitchen was now in my dining room. I've never considered saw horses as decorative objects, but there they sat in the middle of the living room. Let me tell you, living on a construction site gets old fast.

Ah, when the work is done, you think, "it was worth it." The mess is soon forgotten as you gaze at the dazzling new kitchen. Appliances actually work. New cabinets provide the storage you've always desired. Yeah, I'd do it all over again.

Writing a book is a lot like a home improvement project. You plan, brainstorm, gather the required materials, and get to work. The vision of a book with your name on it propels you. Excitement ripples through your fingers and onto the keyboard.

Then come the minor disasters, followed by major revisions. You rip out a paragraph, sometimes even a chapter, and re-write it. My first draft wasn't pretty, folks, but I edited, revised, chopped out pieces here and there. It's looking better every day to me. (Hopefully, an editor will agree.)

So, don't let first, second, and even third-draft blues get you down. Keep learning, polishing, and you'll soon have a finished product. Maybe I'll actually hear an agent or editor say, "I like it. I want it. Write two more."

Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday Round-Up - #53

Blogging fills a need for both the blogger and the blogee. The blogger gets to express whatever is on their mind, while the blogee draws from their experience and knowledge. Unless we can bring the two together, blogging is like shouting in the wind.

I came across a post by my buddy, Kathryn Lang, over at Successful Freelance Writer, on bringing traffic to your blog. She found an interesting quote, and gave some tips on how to implement an idea.

Terry Whalin, well known for his Book Proposals That Sell, blogged on 5/31 about how every email counts. I don't have a direct link to this post, but I have given the blog link. If you scroll down, he also has some practical suggestions on sizing your book for economical mailing.

I'm thankful for all the wonderful blogging friends I've made since the inception of Christian Writer/Reader Connection. Let's build on those relationships and reach out to others.

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

WooHoo! I Received an Award

Sherrinda, over at A Writer Wannabe, gave me the, "One Lovely Blog," award. Thanks, Sherrinda.

Now, I'm supposed to choose 10 bloggers I enjoy. There are so many of you that it's difficult to decide. Hopefully, one of the following bloggers will add you to their list if you're not on here.

1. Christina Berry, Posting With Purpose - A blog about her writing journey and the faithfulness of God in her life.

2. Tiffany Colter, Writing Career Coach - Gives great tips and cheers us on to success.

3. Mary Ann Diorio, The Write Power - Practical and inspirational, this blog gets my brain and heart in gear.

4. Gail Gaymer Martin, Writing Right - A successful romance writer, Gail gives the benefit of her expertise.

5. Cindy Wilson - Shares her writing journey with all of us.

6. Crystal Laine Miller - First reader, contest judge, and all-around terrific person shares whatever's on her heart.

7. Terri Tiffany - I enjoy the interaction on Terri's blog. She has a way of creating a homey atmosphere and drawing the reader into the conversation.

8. Rita Gerlach, InSpire - Rita always piques my interest with tidbits I don't see anywhere else.

9. Pix-N-Pens - Tracy Ruckman, Debbie Roome, Suzanne Williams, and Kathy Ide delight us with a range of subjects from writing to photography. Each one has their own special style.

10. Gina Conroy, Writer...Interrupted - This is a group blog, focusing on the challenges of writing while raising a family. Their devotionals always touch my heart and encourage me to move forward.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Buried Treasure

"Grr, where are my keys? Can anyone tell me why they make purses that swallow everthing like a black hole?"

I don't think there's a woman reading this blog, who hasn't experienced this frustration. You know your keys, pens, business cards, or glasses are in your purse, but can you put your hand on them? No. If you're a guy, you find yourself digging through every pocket or your briefcase. At this point, I resort to removing everything until I find that elusive item.

Pouring over Writers Guidelines and conference brochures can be like searching through my handbag. I know the keys to publication are there, but I can't seem to locate them. Sometimes I have to pull everything out before isolating the buried treasure.

A highlighter can be an effective tool for unearthing these nuggets. What information is critical to my submission? 1. Contact person and method of submission. 2. Target audience. 3. The type of material they want, including upcoming themes. 4. The type of material they DON'T want. 5. The overall tone of the publication.

By separating the important nugggets, we get a more focused view of the publication's needs. A couple of years ago, a devotional magazine editor attended a writers conference. I read through her bio and determined what type of pieces she wanted. I wrote specific devotionals relating to Christmas and Advent. Two of those devotionals were accepted and published.

On the other side of the coin, I made an appointment with an agent. She liked my writing, but didn't handle my genre. Oops, my mistake. I didn't do my homework.

With conference time upon us, let's dig for those gems that will bring us closer to our goals, and keep us from wasting precious appointment time. Happy hunting!