Wednesday, March 31, 2010

On My Nightstand - An Absence So Great by Jane Kirkpatrick

Author Jane Kirkpatrick researches ordinary women in history and writes fictionalized accounts of their lives. Stick around to the end of this post for a chance to win this book.

Young Jessie Gaebele's heart aches for a forbidden love, but also wants to do the right thing. As she sees it, her only recourse is to take a position helping the owners of a photographic studio affected by mercury poisoning. Maybe she can move on with her life by pursuing her dream to open her own studio.

All the activity in the world can't quell the memories threatening her plan. The more she runs, the more she encounters her past.

The author's attention to detail, historical references, and use of actual photographs tether the reader to the setting and time period. Thoughtful inner dialogue provokes reflection on life, forgiveness, and love.

This book is the second in her Portraits of the Heart Series. While it's a stand alone novel, reading the first book, "A Flickering Light," might enrich your understanding of, "An Absence So Great."

Now for the fun stuff! To enter the drawing, please comment and leave your email address in the spam-busting format: susanjreinhardt (at) ______ (dot) com. For a second entry, either identify yourself as a Follower or become a Follower of Christian Writer/Reader Connection. Due to regulations, the contest is open to U.S. Residents only. No purchase is required to enter this drawing. You have until Friday, April 2, 2010, at midnight. The winner will be drawn on Saturday, April 3, 2010. Notification will be made via email and the winner announced on the blog.

Please note: This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Tea Cups and Quality

My idea of a fun afternoon includes poking through an antique mall. I confess. China teacups and saucers are a weakness. If I didn't rein myself in, my collection would fill every nook and cranny of my house. Whether it's color, quality, or a delightful pattern, the item must have special appeal to end up in my shopping cart.

Editors and agents have the same mindset. With so many options and limited room, they're a choosey bunch. They haunt writers' conferences, view query letters, read full or partial proposals, and dig through slush piles. I imagine their excitement at finding that special manuscript rivals the rush I get when I see a teacup that stands out from the crowd.

Do you have a special collection? How do you find the right items? With your writing, how do you make your manuscript/article stand out from the all the other submissions?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

This & That - #5

Many thanks to Karen Lange, over at Write Now, for the Sunshine Award. I hope you'll check out her excellent blog.

Shout out to Emily A., one of my Swagbuck referrals. Please contact me at susanjreinhardt (at) gmail (dot) com. :)

Speaking of Swagbucks, I'm three SBs away from my 10th $5.00 gift certificate. Pretty cool for simply using their search engine. If you're interested, contact me at the above email address, and I'll send you a referral.

Jeannie Campbell, at The Character Therapist, is asking her friends to take a sruvey on character stereotypes. It takes only a minute and will help her with an article.

1) Take the quiz yourself.

2) Blog/tweet about the quiz, giving the link:

3) Include it on any other social medical outlets you might use.

Thank you!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Round-Up - #92

Cec Murphey discusses, "There Are No Passive Verbs - Part 2 of 2," on his blog.

Note: I used the Shakespeare reference because of the famous, "To be or not to be," quote. Don't laugh. It's hard to find a graphic to illustrate passive verbs. LOL!

A Facebook friend alerted me to this site, dealing with social media. This article is written by Jesse Stanchak about using social media to promote your books.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On My Nightstand - The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen

Olivia Keene runs from her hometown, terrified someone will discover her secret. Her plan to seek employment at a girl's school is sidelined when she overhears a private conversation between Lord Bradley and his father. Fearful she'll reveal the sensitive nature of his words, he forces her into staying at his estate as an under nurse.

Lord Bradley marvels as Olivia takes care of her young charges. With nowhere to turn, she stays on as governess. Questions remain in his mind about her trustworthiness.

Julie Klassen paints vivid pictures of the time period, the prevailing social structures, and the dilemmas facing both men and women in nineteenth century England. A Christy Award-winning author, Julie left me hungry for more of her stories .

Don't miss this excellent historical romance.

Note: No fee was received for this recommendation/review. I won the book in a blog contest and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Right Fuel

We've experienced a difficult winter in 2010. A friend related her trials and tribulations with getting a fire started in their woodstove. She told me how a batch of soft wood saved the day because it acted as the perfect kindling.

Sometimes throwing a craft book or writers conference log in our writing fireplace isn't enough to spark our imagination. A smaller article, a link to an interesting post, or a chance conversation with a writer friend might be the kindling that sets us ablaze.

What are some of the seemingly insignificant things that get your creative juices flowing?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Round-Up - #91

You're at a writers' conference, and Mr. Perfect Editor gets onboard. What do you say? Richard Mabry discusses the dreaded "elevator pitch."

Lynette LaBelle talks about six backstory pitfalls.

Have any of you given an elevator pitch? Please share your funny, embarrassing, and/or thrilling experiences with us. Have a safe weekend!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

On My Nightstand - Perfecting Kate by Tamara Leigh

At 33, Kate Meadows, a talented San Francisco artist, despairs of ever finding "The One." She's sworn off men and decides to embrace being single...until two handsome men enter her life.

While Michael, the famous cosmetologist, pursues her, he is also on a crusade to improve her looks. The business cards in her purse testify to his efforts to steer her toward plastic surgeons and beauty experts. Maybe he's right. Kate enjoys the attention, but confesses to her friend, Belle, there are no sparks.

When Dr. Clive Alexander hires her to do a mural in the Children's Burn Unit, Kate finds her heart going pitter-patter for the brooding surgeon. Yet, his aversion to all things Christian is a major drawback, as is his apparent lack of interest in her.

She looks at those business cards, and embarks on a pathway to beauty. Will her efforts result in a walk down the aisle? In her quest for Mr. Right, Kate discovers someone else...herself.

This delightful book explores a woman's self-esteem issues with humor and a refreshing candor. Tamara Leigh keeps the pace moving along, and throws in some delightful characters to advise Kate and keep her grounded.

Please note, I did not receive any fees to review this book. I won it in a blog contest, and found it well worth my reading time.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sore Muscles

After allowing too many days go by without hitting the gym, my muscles let me know they didn't appreciate the exercise. Even my super comfortable mattress failed to soothe the aches and pains.

Our writing muscles also need regular exercise. When I skip more than a day and then go back to my work in progress, I find my brain operates like a computer lacking sufficient memory. It's slow going, folks.

When life hits, I find it helpful to mull over elements of my story to keep the writing muscles from getting flabby. How do you keep your writing muscles in shape when you can't get time to write?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

This & That - #4

Emily Ann Benedict, at Benedictions, awarded me the Prolific Blogger Award. Thanks so much, Emily, for this honor.

I'm passing this award on to:

Karen Lange, from Write Now and

Jeanette Levellie, from Audience of One

Both these women are extraordinary writers, prolific bloggers, and dear friends. Karen is celebrating her first blogoversary and has a giveaway, while Jeanette also has a giveaway. Pop over, and tell them I said, "Hi."

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Round-Up - #90

Larry Brooks, at, looks at five scary truths about writing that are actually good news. I found his take on Pantsers vs. Plotters hysterical.

Angela, at The Bookshelf Muse, addresses the Seven Deadly Sins of Novel Writing.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

On My Nightstand - Revealed by Tamera Alexander

Annabelle Grayson and her husband, Johnny, are on their way west and a new life. To their delight, she discovers she's pregnant, but her happiness is short-lived. She's forced to return to Willow Springs as a widow.

She advertises for a guide to take her to her late husband's ranch. Matthew Taylor applies for the position, but a shocking revelation almost ends their partnership. In spite of misgivings, Annabelle hires him and they set off.

Matthew's anger and hurtful words cut her into her heart. Will she ever be able to leave the past behind? A single scripture verse gives her strength and courage to persevere, but will Matthew's secrets destroy any hopes for the future?

Tamera Alexander's book, "Revealed," won the Rita Award in 2007. Although the second book in the Fountain Creek Chronicles, it can stand alone. Both this books and its predecessor, "Rekindled," were so good that I recommend reading them in order. I got all three books in one volume as a Christmas gift from my Mom. I'm looking forward to the last book in the series. If you want to relax with a great historical romance, this book fits the bill.

No fees were received to review/recommend this book.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Time-Lapse Photography

The Wonderful World of Disney opened their show with a montage of pictures. Thanks to time-lapse photography, they showed butterflies springing from cocoons and flowers blooming in seconds instead of hours or days.

Reading author interviews reminds me of these pictures. We're seeing years, months, and days condensed into a short vignette. While it's exciting, we must remind ourselves these writers put hard work, time, patience, and perseverance into achieving their goals.

Are we committed to the long haul or are we seeking instant success?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Giveaway Winner!

We have a winner! Congratulations to Diane E. As soon as I receive your snail mail address, I'll send out Tamara Leigh's book, "Leaving Carolina."

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday Round-Up - #89

Kathryn Lang, at Successful Freelance Writer, shares her experience and thoughts on guest blogging.

Alisa Hope, at Faith Imagined, gives us the lowdown on book blog tours, including how to set one up.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tamara Leigh Interview & Giveaway - Part II

We're back with Part II of our interview with Tamara Leigh, author of 12 novels.

2. Formerly, you wrote for the general market. Other than the obvious restrictions of language and sensuality, what are some of the differences between ABA and CBA?

For me, the biggest difference between ABA and CBA is that, as an author of Christian fiction, I have permission to share my faith without fear of offense, which sometimes required extensive editing of my books (30,000 words slashed from one of my medievals that was deemed "too preachy."). Thus, I have the opportunity to give my readers more than just a romance. I can give them a life-changing message.

Another notable difference is my working relationship with agents and editors. Overall, it's been a refreshing experience. Not only do they make me feel as if I'm a person first, but they pray for me. I truly believe I'm where God wants me to be.

3. I'm naturally a SOTP writer, struggling to learn how to plot. What's your preferred method: SOTP or Plotter? Do you have any advice for those of us, who are tired of plot holes and massive edits?

If you had asked me that question a couple of years ago, I would have declared that I'm a Seat-of-the-Pants writer to the max. However, I've been working on finding a middle place to go with my middle age that likes to mess with my concentration. This means that, as much as I dislike outlining, I discipline myself to work out on paper the major and sometimes minor elements of my story before I completely immerse myself in writing the story.

Perhaps of interest is that this new discipline hasn't helped to the extent I'm able to write a book in less time, but my direction is clearer, and I believe the story is better for it. So, my advice: if you're a SOTP writer, embrace that part of you, but be open to plotting, especially if your writing suffers from plot holes and requires so much editing it takes your breath away. You don't have to commit months and reams of paper to outlining. Just start small, pushing your imagination to the next big scene and the one after that... Also, you should check out Randy Ingermanson's "Snowflake Pro" software program. It holds your hand throughout the entire process.

Thanks for a great interview, Tamara. As a reminder to all of our readers, I'm giving away Tamara's book, "Leaving Carolina." The drawing is open to residents of the U.S. only and is void where prohibited by law. Please leave a comment, along with your email address in the spam-busting format. Example: susanjreinhardt (at) ____ (dot) com. The winner will be drawn on Sunday, March 7, 2010, and notified by email, as well as announced on the blog.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Grandma's Garden

When we visited, my grandma always gave us a tour of her garden. Excitement bubbled over as I noted the changes. The mere hint of a bud now stood on the verge of opening. The next time we inspected the plant, the petals were positioning themselves into a flower like so many ballerinas on a stage. A day or two later, Grandma brought her garden shears outside and snipped the stem holding a perfect rose.

Our writing endeavors are like my grandma's garden tour. Each stage brings joy and anticipation. While we look toward the day when our book sits on the shelf of a major chain and becomes the reader's choice, we can savor every step along the way.

How about you? Do dreams of the future make the journey a chore or a delight?