Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Round-Up - #97

Tiffany Colter invited guest blogger, Rachel Mendel to discuss writing for newspapers.

Lynnette Labelle lists some commonly misused words. Which ones trip you up?

Have a fabulous weekend!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Author Interview & Giveaway - Christa Parrish - Part II

We're back today with Part II of the interview with Christa Parrish.

3. You're one of the few writers out there, who have sold their first manuscript. Can you share your experience with us?

It was totally an act of God's providence. I was nominated for a scholarship to a writer's conference by two of my critique partners, headed to Philadelphia with only 85 pages of my novel written, and was disappointed to find I had gotten no appointments with any editors, and only one appointment with an agent - and that was at the very end of the last day of the conference. But that agent - Bill Jensen - really connected with my story and my writing. He asked to represent me and waited patiently as it took another six months for me to finish Home Another Way. Three months after that, I had a three-book deal with Bethany House. So, yes, it's like the "too good to be true" publishing success story. But it's also so clear that the Lord had his hand in it. I can't in any way "boast" - and that has helped to both keep me focused on how He would use my writing for His purposes, and keep me thankful for the gift He's given me.

4. Congratulations on your marriage to Author Chris Coppernoll! What challenges arise with two creative types in the same household? Is there any chance you might collaborate on a book project?

Thanks. I think Chris and I were both taken a bit by surprise regarding God's plan for us! I know I *never* thought, when we briefly met (and I mean, all of three minutes while I was getting a free signed copy of his book) at the International Christian Retailers Show in 2008 that I would even see him again, yet alone marry him. But it has been wonderful and, so far, I can't say there have been any challenges regarding our two writing careers under the same roof. I read his work when he asks and offer advice, if he wants it. He does the same for me. We have two very different writing styles and creative processes, but in that way we can give each other varying perspectives on things. I've turned him on to wearing earplugs. He reminds me to back up my novel frequently (something I'm horrible at remembering to do). Often we'll go to the library together in the afternoons, find two comfy chairs, and write side-by-side. And yes, we have talked about collaborating. I'm not sure quite when that will be yet, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Thanks, Christa, for a dynamite interview!

Here are the rules for entering the giveaway: Leave your email address in the comments, so 1) I know you're entering, and 2) I know how to reach you. No email address = no entry. Due to our laws, the drawing is open to U.S. residents only and is void where prohibited. The winner takes responsibility for his/her eligibility. You can get two entries by commenting on both Part I and Part II of Christa's interview. If you mention that you're a Follower or tell me you've become a Follower, I'll give you one additional entry. No purchase or fee is required to enter this drawing.

The winner will receive a copy of Christa's books, Home Another Way and Watch Over Me. The drawing will be held on Sunday, May 2, 2010, and the winner notified by email. An announcement will appear on the blog.

Please note Christa gave me a copy of Home Another Way when it first came out, and I purchased Watch Over Me. I have not received any remuneration for this interview or recommendation, and will pay the postage out of my pocket.

Don't miss the fun! May begins Happy Blogoversary month here at Christian Writer/Reader Connection.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Beyond the Sunset

Sunsets hold a variety of memories for me. I remember riding through the mountains with my husband. We'd stop and marvel as the sun made its exit in a brilliant array of colors.

They mark the end of a day and the beginning of night. Little did we know we would soon face our own sunset. As life ebbed from him, the night season began for me. Tomorrow is the third anniversary of his journey beyond the sunset.

It wasn't an easy time, but God carried me in His arms. Now, the sun is peaking over the horizon. The dark night is giving way to shafts of light. I will go on. As Psalm 118:17 says, "I shall not die but live and declare the works of the Lord."

Joy comes in the morning.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Round-Up - #96

Cec Murphey talks about the main reason for rejection.

Elana Johnson gives advice on how to build your blog.

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Author Interview & Giveaway - Part I

Christa Parrish graduated high school at 16, with every intention of becoming a surgeon. After college, however, her love of all things creative led her in another direction, and she worked in both theatre and journalism.

A winner of Associated Press awards for her reporting, Christa gave up her career after the birth of her son, Jacob. Now, she's a homeschool mom, lives with her husband, author Chris Coppernoll, in upstate New York, and is expecting her second child in July. Her first novel, Home Another Way, was nominated for the ECPA Book of the Year, and her second novel, Watch Over Me, is currently a finalist for ForeWord Reviews' Book of the Year. She is now putting the finishing touches on her third novel, The Air We Breathe, with an anticipated publication date of Fall/Winter 2010.

Christa and I were both in the Angela Hunt and Nancy Rue Fiction Clinic, affectionately dubbed "Nangie," several years ago. She'll tell you later in the interview about the special events during that conference. Thanks for joining us on Christian Writer/Reader Connection, Christa.

1. How did you research your deaf, teenage boy character in, "Watch Over Me?" He really captured my heart.

I have a dear online friend - profoundly deaf since she was an infant - who allowed me to ask as many questions as I liked, even ones that were probably considered stupid or insensitive or offensive by many people. But this woman was gracious and patient with me, painstakingly answering each of my questions with long, accurate, and personal answers. I could not have written Matthew's character without her. Much of what he goes through mimics my friend's own experiences, so I realize not every person who is deaf will identify with him, or even think my portrayal is "accurate." But after my friend read Watch Over Me, she wrote to tell me I "hit the nail on the head" regarding Matthew's character. That's the best compliment I could receive.

2. What does your writing process entail, and how long does it take you to write a book?

My writing process has a lot of "not writing" in it! Seriously, I cannot park myself at a desk every day and just pound away whatever comes to me. I need to see each scene in my head, hear each line of dialogue, before I type it out. So it may be days or - dare I say it? - weeks between the times I actually sit and write these chunks of novel. But in those times, I'm constantly thinking about my novel, my characters, the scenes, the plot, so much so that I've been known to drive past exits on the highway (my husband says I completely "check out" when I drive, and it's true that's when I do some of my best ruminating!) or scribble bits of description on napkins. When I finally get to the point that what I have in my head needs to pour out on the page, I can spend hours or days doing nothing but writing until I've emptied myself out and need to begin percolating again. I know that it takes longer to write a book because of this, but I've tried to change it and just can't. It's how I'm wired. So I take about a year to write each novel. I could never be like some of these amazing authors who crank out three or four books a year. I don't know how they do it.

Christa and I will continue the interview next Wednesday, but here's some exciting news: I'm doing a giveaway for not one, but both of Christa's books! The winner will be chosen in a drawing on Sunday, May 2, 2010, and notified via email. An announcement will also be made on the blog.

Legal Stuff: This giveaway is limited to residents of the U.S. and is void where prohibited. The winner takes all responsibility for their eligibility. No purchase or fee is necessary to enter. Simply leave your email address in the comments section, so I know you're entering and how to reach you. Sorry - no email address, no entry. Even if I have your address somewhere in my office, please include it in your comments. You can receive up to two entries for commenting on this post and next week's post. If you're a Follower or become a Follower, let me know, and I'll give you one additional entry.

Christa gave me her first book, Home Another Way, when it first came out. I purchased Watch Over Me. I have not received any remuneration for this interview or recommendation.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Blink of an Eye

Life happens around us every day. Our writer minds take note of an unusual hairstyle, the smell of food as we pass a restaurant, and a gazillion other ordinary/not so ordinary happenings. If we don't seize them and store them, they're gone in the blink of an eye.

If I see/hear/smell/taste/touch something unusual or that piques my interest, I immediately try to associate it with a character in my WIP or a devotional idea. Many times I'll jot it down on a scrap of paper. (You should see my desk!) My journal is another favorite storage area for nifty facts.

How do you keep your ideas from disappearing in the blink of an eye?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

This & That - #6

FYI - The Molly Contest is open to unpublished authors of romance fiction. Check it out here. While I appreciate all the awards, I've run out of room on my sidebar. Until I can figure out how to get them in a slide show format, I'm asking everyone to refrain from giving me any further awards. If you know how to set up a slide show, I'd appreciate some tips. Thanks! :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Round-Up - #95

Author Mike Dellosso gives a whole new meaning to editing.

Kathy Ide, at PixnPens, talks about formatting your manuscript.

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Author Interview - Ronie Kendig - Part II

Author Ronie Kendig and I continue our interview.

3. We're all interested in time management issues. How do you balance family and writing?

This is quite the challenge, but (after God) the family comes first. I homeschool my four children, and that creates its own challenges in and of itself. However, my family has been wholly supportive of my writing career, and so they know that during the day, I'm (mostly) available to them (sometimes there are glitches, but we roll with it). After dinner, I go into my office and close the door. I have a doorhanger that I put on the knob. If that's there, they know they must fend for themselves or seek their father for help. I will typically write from 7/8 pm till midnight or one AM.

4. How do you get ideas for your plots? Do you start with characters or a storyline?

Many, many places. I'd like to think of myself as a student of people. I study them, my mind racing through scenarios and wondering why they did what they did. Or movies. Recently, I watched a movie that, to me, had an enviable concept, but the writer/director completely failed it. To me that was infuriating, so it made me want to approach a similar concept but with a much more satisfying conclusion and character arc. It's that inevitable WHAT IF springboard.

Although I haven't read Ronie's book, Dead Reckoning, it's on my Wish List.

Thanks, Ronie, for hanging out with us here the last couple of weeks. We pray the Lord will bless you and your family.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Knitting a Story

Fascinated, I watched the teacher on TV as she knitted with two different colors of yarn. She carried one color behind her project, while working with the other. How did she keep track of the different threads? It looked like a jumble to me, but the finished product testified of her success.

As a reader, I move with ease through the story. Interwoven with the plot are subplots that keep me turning the pages. As a writer, I sometimes feel like the knitting student bewildered on how to keep the story threads from becoming a hopeless tangle.

I've found separating subplots and characters by chapter breaks makes for a tidy package and a bit of sanity for me and the reader. How do you keep your plots and subplots from knotting?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Round-Up - #94

Kathryn Lang, at Successful Freelance Writer, gives six tips for exposed writing. Are you transparent?

Symbols are all around us. The Bookshelf Muse gives us a look at writing a word, a phrase, or object with a deeper meaning.

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Author Interview - Ronie Kendig - Part I

Ronie Kendig has a BS in Psychology and is a wife, mother of four, and avid writer. Her novels include Dead Reckoning (March 2010, Abingdon Press) and Nightshade (July 2010, Barbour Publishing), Book #1 in The Discarded Heroes series. She speaks to various groups, volunteers with the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and mentors new writers.

Welcome to Christian Writer/Reader Connection, Ronie! I'm excited that you agreed to the interview.

1. By way of introduction, please tell us when you began writing.

I've always been crafting stories (and playing with Barbies as a youngster stirred my creativity), but it wasn't until I was a junior in high school that I really took to writing. As a newlywed, I wrote (bought my first word processor at 21), and then my husband nudged me to seek publication sometime around 2000. I still have my first rejection dated 2002.

2. How would you describe your genre and how did you choose it?

Dead Reckoning is an espionage thriller, but the military series that I'm working on (Nightshade, Book #1 releases this July!) is more a cross between a suspense and a thriller. Maybe a Clancy crossed with Dee Henderson (at least, that's what others have said about the books. I'm not sure I so much chose it as it just grew out of my passion for writing action/adventure and how impatient I tend to be as a reader (meaning, I don't do well with literary styles in reading or writing).

Next Wednesday, Part II of our interview with Ronie will talk about time management and plots/characters.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Breathing Life into Your Characters

Growing up, my bedroom looked like a nursery. A doll bassinet, a doll crib, and various accessories were an integral part of the decor. Whenever someone asked what I wanted for Christmas or my birthday, I'd say--you guessed it--"a doll."

No matter how much fun I had, nothing quite measured up to when my aunt would bring my little cousins for a visit. As infants, most of them got rides in my large doll carriage.

Watching the babies and interacting with them translated into making my playtime more like the real thing. My aunt passed along their clothes for my dolls. I didn't want the silly clothes they made for toys. They didn't match up to baby clothes. I held realism in high regard.

While our characters aren't real people, we strive to capture the experiences of daily life on the page. We're challenged to create story worlds and people, who are believable to our readers. Life experiences, reading, music, and movies all give us a frame of reference for our writing. People watching, snippets of conversation, facial expressions, and tone of voice all get stored onto the brain's hard drive for future reference.

How do you invent your characters? How do you keep your characters from sounding alike or a clone of yourself?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

And The Winner is...

Congratulations to Kristen Johnson! You've won Jane Kirkpatrick's book, "An Absence So Great." Please email me your snail mail address at susanjreinhardt (at) gmail (dot) com.

Thanks to everyone who entered. We'll be having more giveaways coming up soon. Next month is Happy Blogoversary month.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday Round-Up - #93

Angela, at The Bookshelf Muse, discusses the Seven Deadly Sins For Novel Writing.

Lisa Karon, at Inkwell Inspirations, shares what sparks her imagination.

Have a great weekend!