Wednesday, September 30, 2009

On My Nightstand - The Apothecary's Daughter by Julie Klassen

Julie Klassen's Regency era romance sings with strong research and beautifully crafted characters. Her vivid descriptions brought the time period to life.

Lilly won my heart with her thoughtfulness toward her father, brother, and friends. She faced disappointments and hard times with self-denial and courage. Her faith was portrayed in a matter-of-fact manner rather than in a heavy-handed way.

She yearns for travel and adventure. A desire for answers to mysterious events and a longing for love, makes the grass look greener beyond the borders of her village. When the opportunity to spend time in London with her aunt and uncle, she jumps at it. Lilly soon learns everything is not as rosy as it appears.

Fans of historical fiction will find, "The Apothecary's Daughter," a satisfying read. I need to go back and read Julie's debut novel, "The Lady of Milkweed Manor." I don't want to miss any of Julie's books.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Winner of Jean Fischers' Kids Bible Dictionary

Congratulations to LINDA! Please send me your snail mail address, so I can forward it to Jean. You should have my email by now. If you didn't receive it, please let me know in the comment section.

Thank you to all who participated in the drawing. Watch for future giveaways at Christian Writer/Reader Connection. You never know when the "contest itch" will strike me. :)

Monday, September 28, 2009


Submission guidelines are detailed right down to formatting your manuscript. I'm asking for some advice from all my blogging buddies out there.

1. Currently, each chapter of my manuscript is in a separate document. There are no hard page breaks to allow for easier editing. I also do not have headers, footers, or automatic page numbering. My questions: Do I need hard page breaks? Headers? Footers? Automatic page numbering?

2. What margins are standard for a manuscript?

3. What features would you like to see here at Christian Writer/Reader Connection? I'd appreciate some feedback and suggestions for future posts.

4. Tip for you: If you're running IE 8 and having trouble viewing the top portion of my blog, go to Tools and check Compatibility View. This will adjust the view to a previous IE version. With Firefox, go to Tools and check IE view.


Saturday, September 26, 2009


As most of you know, my computer is in the shop. I'm working from a library computer. Since the library is closed tomorrow (Sunday), I'm extending the deadline on the drawing for Jean Fischer's book, "The Kids Bible Dictionary," from tonight at midnight to Monday, 9/28/09, at midnight. The winner will be announced on the blog on Tuesday, 9/29/09 and notified via email.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. I expect to have my computer back later today, barring any unforeseen circumstances.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Round-Up - #68

I enjoy reading about the methods writers use to produce a book. Jordan McCollum shares her techniques in this post.

Recently, I've uncovered some angst in the blogosphere on finding enough material for blogs. Kathryn Lang, at Successful Freelance Writer, tackles this subject.

Gail Gaymer Martin tells about discovering a visual online Thesaurus. The site color codes words by category. I've checked it out and bookmarked this freebie.

Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Author Interview & Giveaway - Jean Fischer - Part II

Today, we continue with our book drawing and interview with author, Jean Fischer. Welcome back, Jean.

3. Can you describe your writing day? Do you have a dedicated space or haunt Starbucks?

Oh, no, Susan. Now you've made me want to run right out for a Starbuck's pumpkin spice latte. I have to stay away from the coffee shops; I'm too much a surveyor of all the newfangled flavors. But seriously, my favorite place to write is in my car at the beach. I'm lucky to live a short distance from Lake Michigan. Most mornings, I pack up my laptop and travel mug and head for one of the beachside parking lots. I've done some of my best creative writing at the lake. It's quiet there and a great venue for inspiration.

4. What project do you have in the works right now?

Well, along with my ongoing freelance jobs, I've just started writing a book. It will encourage readers to examine various aspects of living the Christian life and will be written in a creative non-fiction style using lyrical prose. The project is very much in the "stewing" stage. I believe that the Lord speaks through His Christian writers, so my job right now is to listen and follow wherever His words lead me.

I'm also a contributing writer to Barbour Publishing's new Camp Club Girls Christian mystery series for preteens. My first book in the series, Sydney's D.C. Discovery, will be available January 1, 2010. I invite your readers to watch my blog for more information. Barbour has some fun things planned to promote the series. I will also be posting about it on my Twitter account and Facebook page.

Thank you so much, Susan, for allowing me to connect here with you and your readers. It's been a pleasure. I wish all of you God's richest blessings and much success with your writing.

Hey, everyone, don't forget to comment and leave your email address for an opportunity to win a signed copy of Jean's book, Kids' Bible Dictionary. The contest ends Saturday, September 26, 2009, at midnight. The winner will be announced on Sunday, September 27, 2009. I'll provide Jean with the winner's snail mail address, and she'll send it directly to them. (1 entry per person on each post = total 2 entries).

Monday, September 21, 2009

Supporting Your Point

I've often seen topiaries shaped like birds, animals, or cartoon characters. Expert gardeners take a plant or flower and turn it into something whimsical and eye catching.

Plants are trained to grow around wire frames and take on various shapes. As writers, we take words and wrap them onto examples, illustrations, and stories. These tools are the framework upon which our concepts, ideas, and points are made visual.

There is a danger, however, in using these methods. If we put too much emphasis on an analogy, we run the risk of overshadowing our point. I've seen examples and illustrations taken to an extreme by readers, and they lose the real message.

As writers, keep the focus on a specific point instead of running down rabbit trails with the analogy or framework. Let's help our readers to understand the purpose of our examples.

Have you ever read a story, blog post, or devotional and forgotten what point they were trying to make from the illustrations used?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Round-Up - #67

Mom and I spent a couple of days in the Lancaster, PA area. While there, I saw a couple of fun sayings about chocolate. I thought you might get a chuckle from them.

T-Shirt: "Money talks. Chocolate sings!"

Pillow: "In the cookies of life, friends are the chocolate chips."

Over at Crystal Laine Miller's blog, Sarah Anne Sumpolec gives writing advice to youngsters. She lists questions on how to evaluate a book. I found it helpful in analyzing why I enjoy certain books and not others.

Rachel Hauck, over at Faithchick, tells how she starts a book.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Author Interview & Book Giveaway - Jean Fischer - Part I

Author Jean Fischer and I met on Facebook. After getting to know each other and visiting each other's blogs, I asked Jean if she'd do an interview, and she graciously agreed.

Jean Fischer is a professional writer with a solid background in publishing. Her writing career began at Golden Books where she worked as an editor and creative manager. As a freelance writer, she has co-written and ghostwritten children's books with Christian authors/teachers John MacArthur, Dr John C. Maxwell and Thomas Kinkade. She has also created devotions for the Adventures in Odyssey series concepted by Dr. James Dobson. Jean lives in Racine, WI where she is proudly owned by two house cats and a ring-necked turle dove. You can contact Jean through her Web site. 1. Jean, I understand you worked for Golden Books. Nurse Nancy was one of my favorite stories. Would you share a bit of your experience from your days at the company?

Hi, Susan. Thanks for having me here at the Christian Writer/Reader Connection.

I had just graduated from college when I was hired as an associate editor at Golden Books. I had planned to work in their Book Division, but I was assigned to the Activity Products Division instead. It was the best thing that could have happened. Not only did I gain a wealth of experience about publishing storybooks, but also about a variety of other book formats including word search and crossword puzzles, coloring books, books with stickers and tracing pages, and even educational workbooks.

During my almost 20 years with the company, I did everything from planning and writing to approving book samples as they came off the printing presses. My most rewarding experience at Golden was managing the creative development of books with audio. In that capacity, I worked with Sesame Street, Nickelodeon, Jim Davis (creator of the Garfield comic strips) and other children's entertainment companies. Along with writing the audio scripts, I attended recording sessions in New York and Chicago. It was an amazing experience and also great fun.

2. Some of our readers are interested in freelancing. How do you typically obtain jobs?

Unlike most freelancers, I don't rely on online job boards to find work. I spend hours on the Internet researching publishers who use freelance writers. I especially look for smaller niche publishers that fit my qualifications. For example, I have a degree in elementary education and a strong background writing for children, so I researched book packagers/book producers who act as the middleman for big educational companies. That led to freelance jobs writing language arts textbooks for major educational publishers. Sometimes, the best way in is through the back door.

My advice to your readers interested in freelancing is to read and learn about how the publishing industry works. Big companies often subcontract book development to smaller companies (book packagers and producers). Freelance opportunities can be found there by contacting the Human Resources Departments. It takes time to research and find these smaller companies, but if you connect with one, it can lead to some solid freelance work.

Thanks, Jean. We'll continue with Part II next Wednesday, 9/23/09.

Jean has offered to give away a signed copy of her latest book, Kids' Bible Dictionary, to the winner of a drawing. To enter, simply comment and leave your email address in the usual spam-busting format (susanjreinhardt (at)____ (dot) com). Winners will be drawn from comments to this post and the 9/23/09 post. Limit two entries per person (1 from each post). I'll send along the winner's snail mail address to Jean, who will ship the book directly to you. Contest ends Saturday, September 26, 2009 at midnight. The winner will be announced Sunday, September 27, 2009.

Monday, September 14, 2009

It's All In The Details

When my beloved and I planned our wedding, we paid attention to every detail. The purple and white color scheme showed up in the flowers, the linens, the glasses we used for communion during the ceremony, and the candles on the tables. We made each favor ourselves complete with a personalized tag.

Prayer went into the music selections and the ceremony. We thought of ways to make the wedding fun for our guests. When our special day arrived, everything was in order. We'd done the best possible job and left the results in God's hands.

The books I enjoy put me in the manor house, the spacecraft, the boat, or in the jungle. The distinctive noises, textures, sights, smells, and tastes are all there. The author spares no detail. The heroine isn't wearing a dress, but a yellow, tea-length frock with a handkerchief hem. Little touches add up in our writing.

Do you pay attention to the small touches in your manuscript? What are some of the ways you pull the reader into your setting?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Round-Up - #66

The Edit Cafe has a list of the Christian Fiction Bestsellers at the bottom of their page. Make sure to scroll all the way down.

Karen Kingsbury's novel, "Take Two," bumped "The Shack" down to second place. Amish stories continue their popularity. Check out the rest of the list. Were you surprised by any of the authors that showed up?

Do you enjoy devotionals, but have trouble writing them? Emily M. Akin has written an article on the fine points of writing devotionals. I found this fun site, and wanted to share it with all my blogging friends. Are you a historical fiction writer or do you just love old stuff? Donna Rich has a site with wonderful stories from the 1800's. Check out her blog. Who knows? It might tickle your writer bone.

Last, but not least, we remember 9/11. This date will forever be linked to the attacks on the United States. We pray for all those, who lost a loved one or survived those horrific events.

Have a blessed weekend.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Author Interview - Angela Elwell Hunt

Let's give a big Christian Writer/Reader cheer for author Angela Elwell Hunt. I first met Angie during a clinic at the 2006 Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. She and Nancy Rue teach novelists the fine points of producing a great story.

1. Since the publication of your first book, how has your writing evolved? Are you doing anything radically different than you did in the beginning?

I do everything different now - I go a lot deeper, spend more time up front, and search for new topics. I'm always trying new software, and lately I've begun to write in Scrivener, which I love. After more than twenty years to refine techniques, I think I've learned what works for me and what doesn't.

2. What is the most adventurous thing you've done in the name of research for a story?

Probably going to the Amazon jungle to research THE CANOPY. We fished for piranha, climbed to the top of the canopy, slogged through the river in waders, slept in tents with mosquito

3. Where do you get your ideas for stories?

They usually come in pieces - there are four integral parts (setting, characters, theme, plot), and often I'll get one part and have to wait for the other parts to materialize before I have a complete story. I had the rainforest canopy idea, for example, for years before I discovered the other pieces. And I've had these three sisters in my head for months, and those ladies are about to become THE GRANDMA GENE.

4. Can you share a little about your current WIP?

It's THE GRANDMA GENE, and since I don't usually get the characters first, I haven't a clue what it's about other than the development of these characters. Plots have always come naturally to me, so I'm working on some character stories to flex that "other" set of muscles.

Thanks, Angie, for visiting with us today.

Check out Angela's books on CBD or Amazon. Titles include: THE NOVELIST, CANOPY, DREAMERS, and many others. Her newest book is UNCHARTED.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Eye Clutter

I've been trying to be more diligent about picking up stuff and putting it where it belongs. The biggest hot spot: my desk.

At first, clutter aggravates me. However, if I don't deal with it, a strange phenomenon occurs. It becomes invisible. I get accustomed to seeing it in the same place, and it no longer elicits a negative reaction. At that point, it requires a quality decision to make a clean sweep.

Lately, I've noticed this same principle operating when viewing emails, writing loops, etc. When the tag lines become almost as long as the message, my mind blocks them out. I no longer "see" them. They become part of the landscape.

Perhaps a more judicious use of website addresses and tag lines is in order. One or two, mix it up a little bit, keep it fresh just might keep your important messages from making my eyes glaze over.

Do you pay attention to links and tag lines? Do you ever click on links given at the end of an email message, especially if it's part of a five or six-line advertisement? Do you think these long ads are effective or do you find they become invisible?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday Round-Up - #65

As much as we'd like to think all our words are lean, there's fat hiding in our manuscripts. Check out this post by Kathy Ide, at Pixnpens, for editing tips.

Need a simple website? Check out Emily Akin's tips on how to set one up.

Get out the old scrub brush, and get rid of those cliches! This site has a free demo. If you find it useful, let us know. The program can be purchased for a relatively small fee.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

On My Nighstand - Oxygen by John B. Olson & Randall Ingermanson

When I go to a bookstore, one section that gets bypassed is Sci-Fi. The whole Trekkie thing (no offense) doesn't do anything for me.

So, what made me pick up Randy Ingermanson and John B. Olson's book, "Oxygen?" Simple. Randy's humor and blog piqued my curiosity. I wanted to see how his teaching translated into a book.

Oxygen is about a NASA mission to Mars. While I remembered the Challenger disaster, the successes always outweighed the failures. After all, airplanes crash, but most flights arrive safely. Oxygen emphasized the dangers and the precision required to achieve NASA's goals.

More than the technical jargon of space travel, the human factor made the book a winner for me. The authors' created believable characters, who dealt with the stress of making decisions based on partial information and colored by their life experience. They filtered into my thoughts and dreams when I had to put the book down.

I particularly liked the way they gave clues to the mystery. The tidbits didn't stand up and shout, "I'm a clue. Remember me." Instead, they were little details the characters noticed, but didn't view as significant until other pieces of the puzzle brought them to mind.

Every aspect of Oxygen held my interest. The authors hit a grand slam with tension, suspense, romance, and the satisfying ending. Thanks, guys, for a book I can give to a male or female, believer or unbeliever.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Special Note

Mom and I have the opportunity to get away for a couple of days. With all that's been happening, I desperately need some down time.

Wednesday's post will be up as usual, but comments won't be moderated until Thursday night. If I can do so, I'll moderate them from the road.


Susan :)