Monday, May 31, 2010

Thinning Plants

I'm in gardening heaven these days, but there's one task that makes me sad. Can you guess which one? I planted lots of seeds, and most of them sprouted. Unfortunately, they're too close together to thrive. So, I must thin out the plants so each has the space it needs to grow.

Most of us enjoy many healthy, good activities. With our time at a premium, we often must take a long, hard look at our schedules and prioritize. Isn't it better to do five things well than do a mediocre job with ten things? It hurts to say goodbye to a fun hobby, a club meeting, or some other time eater.

How do you keep your schedule balanced? Do you say, "yes," to projects without counting the cost in time and effort?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Round-Up - #101

This post over at Smith Organic Chocolate was such fun I decided to include it here. Figure out your age in chocolate. I tried it, and it worked!

John Robert Marlowe talks about major mistakes that will result in suicide by submission.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Meeting Diane Estrella

When Diane contacted me on Facebook and said her husband had a meeting near me, I jumped for joy. It's not every day I get to meet one of my blogging buddies.

I picked her up at the hotel and recognized her immediately, but my blonde hair threw her off due to the old picture on my blog. We headed for a local diner and discussed blogging over a yummy breakfast, explored the local Christian bookstore, and hung out at my house until Diane's hubby joined us for lunch.

With the age difference, you wouldn't think we'd have so much in common, but we did. From old houses to writing and Swagbucks, the hours flew by too fast. I can't wait to see this lovely couple, who I call my friends, again.

Check out Diane's post on our meeting. Oh - and if any of you write for kids, be sure to let Diane know. :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

On My Nightstand - The Last Christian by David Gregory

Born of missionary parents in Papua, New Guinea, Abigail Caldwell leaves her beloved Inisi tribe in 2088 to save their lives. After learning everyone in the village is dead, she returns to the United States where she encounters a culture devoid of Christianity.

Technological advances in all areas of life seem to hold amazing promise for the future, including the end to physical death. Abby soon discovers the dark side of this utopian scenario that threatens mankind's soul.

Best-selling Author, David Gregory, gives us a tale so chilling because it highlights the dangers of technology in the wrong hands. When greed enters the picture, people will stop at nothing to obtain wealth.

I also found much food for thought reading his take on why Christianity dwindled in the United States, and how his characters got around the laws in their presentation of the gospel. This novel kept me engaged and emotionally connected to Abby and her love interest, Dr. Creighton Daniels.

Please note: The review copy of this book was provided by Waterbrook Press. No compensation was received by this blogger.

A copy of this book may be purchased at Random House's website. A giveaway copy wasn't provided. In view of this, I will extend my giveaways for Happy Blogoversary Month into June.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Perk, Perk

My mother still owns an old-style coffee percolator. For a time, I'd wonder if anything was happening. Then, the coffee would perk and show through the glass top. Soon a delicious cup of coffee would be served to our guests.

When an idea captures my attention, I grab it and put it into my mental percolator. Every now and then, I check to see if it's ready. "Hmm, maybe I could write a devotional using this tidbit. How about a short story? Perhaps the idea could be developed into a book."

The idea gets stronger. Perk. As I pound away at the computer, the aroma becomes apparent to everyone in the house. Perk, perk. The story pours out of my printer.

My critique partners, my mother, and eventually an editor sample the finished product. One says, "It's too strong." Another suggests adding cream and sugar. If it passes all the taste tests, it's served to readers.

We've talked about how we snag and retain ideas. Now, let's share a bit on how we process those brainstorms into a written piece. Do you allow them to "percolate" or do you move full steam ahead as soon as you get an idea?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

And The Winner is...


Thanks to all those who participated in the drawing. Watch for more drawings in June. :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Round-Up - #100

Do I write out that number or not? Confused? Check out this article on rules for writing numbers.

Kathryn Lang, at Author Haven, shares her experience beating fear of failure.

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

On My Nightstand - Book Giveaway - The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen

I recommended Julie's book, "The Silent Governess," in a previous post. In celebration of my 2nd Blogoversary, I'm having a drawing for this title.

How to enter: 1) Leave a comment along with your email address. No email = no entry. 2) If you're a Follower or become a Follower, I'll give you an additional entry. 3)Advertise the drawing with a link on your blog, email me with the link to your post, and I'll give you another entry.

Eligibility: Only residents of the U.S. are eligible for this drawing. The contest is void where prohibited by law. The winner is responsible for their eligibility.

Deadline: Saturday, May 22, 2010, at midnight. The winner will be drawn Sunday, May 23, 2010, and notified via email. An announcement will be made on the blog.

Disclaimer: A friend gave me this book as a gift. No fee was paid for recommending this book by the author or anyone else.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Winner of The Begotten by Lisa Bergren

Congratulations to KAREN LANGE!

Thanks to all those who participated in the drawing. Watch for tomorrow's post and an opportunity to win Julie Klassen's book, "The Silent Governess."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Writing & Indiana Jones

When I think of Indiana Jones and "Raiders of the Lost Ark," my pulse races. Who can forget the scenes where he faces both natural dangers and villains determined to obtain the Ark of the Covenant?The odds seem stacked against his success.

My adventures writing, "The Moses Conspiracy," remind me of this movie. An idea grabbed me and wouldn't let go. I started, but, oh my, I didn't have a clue what I'd gotten into. My fingers flew over the keyboard, and dashed off my book--all 55,000 words of it. I printed out the first three chapters, packed my briefcase, and trotted off to the nearest Christian Writers Conference. Fortified by my non-writing spouse's praise, my naivete matched or exceeded that of many newbie writers.

POV? Got it nailed down. Passive verbs? No problem. Uh, what's that about character development and dialogue tags? I'll make some changes. You want how many words in a novel, but want me to cut out all the adverbs and most of the adjectives? The story begins on page 10? Maybe I don't know as much about this writing stuff as I thought I did.

Back at that computer, I slashed the adverbs and gave my wimpy verbs muscles. Highlighting a paragraph, my hand poised over the keyboard. I muttered to myself. "You can do this, Susan." I took a deep breath, and hit the delete key. Instead of 55,000 words, I'm down to 45,000.

Even as Indiana got creative in defeating his enemies and reaching his objective, I prayed and dug deep for inspiration. Eureka! I see it--a way out of a tricky spot that will add a chapter. Ah, add some conflict to a relationship. A subplot will make things sticky for the hero and heroine.

Like Indiana Jones, the battle didn't end there. Trials and tribulations popped up, but new skills made the task less daunting. The first 15 pages are now in the hands of the Genesis contest judges. I'll soon know what other villains lurk in the pages of my manuscript. With my trusty fedora and bullwhip (the helmet of salvation and the Word of God), they don't stand a chance.

Tell us about the word jungles you've conquered lately. What snakes have threatened to kill your manuscript?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Round-Up - #99

Larry Brooks, at, clarifies the difference between "the hook" and the "first plot point."

The other day, I discovered a site that gives the origins of words and phrases. Check out, "The Word Detective." What are some of your favorite sayings?

Have a super-duper weekend!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

On My Nightstand - The Begotten by Lisa T. Bergren & Giveaway

At the end of this post, see how you can win a copy of, "The Begotten."

What do a wealthy woman, a priest, a knight, and a child have in common? They're part of, "The Gifted." They share a 5,000 year old secret, and it's time for it to be exposed. The church wants to keep it under wraps, while evil people want to subvert and use it.

This suspenseful tale, set in Italy during 1339, kept my heart in my mouth. Who would triumph? How could a small band overcome the powerful forces seeking to destroy them?

If you like medieval historicals and speculative fiction, you'll love Lisa T. Bergren's book, "The Begotten." Well-written, knock-your-socks-off settings, and a story you won't soon forget make this book a winner.

To win a copy of, "The Begotten:"

1) Leave a comment in the spam-busting format: susanjreinhardt (at) gmail (dot) com. Sorry - no email address in your comment, no entry.

2) Become a Follower or let me know you're a Follower, and you get an extra entry.

3) Post the contest on your blog, send me an email with the link, and get another entry.

4) Deadline: Monday, 5/17/10, at midnight. The winner will be emailed and announced on the blog on Tues., 5/18/10.

5) Eligibility: U.S. residents only. Void where prohibited by law. The winner takes all responsibility for their eligibility.

Disclaimer: I have not received any payment for this review. The book was won in a blog giveaway, and I'm sharing it in celebration of my 2nd Blogoversary.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Proof of the Pudding is in the Eating

Chocolate pudding. Just saying the words conjures up visions of velvety goodness. Not all chocolate pudding lives up to my expectations. I remember lifting a spoonful of the scrumptious dessert to my mouth only to experience profound disappointment. The instant variety doesn't deliver the same taste as the cooked version.

How do we know when our characters are "instant" or "cooked?" The proof of the character is in the strong emotional connection. During critique group meetings, various characters stirred the following reactions:

1) A little boy - the reader begged me not to allow him to die.

2) A secondary character - the reader expressed how much she liked him. (He became a main character in Book 2 because of that comment.)

3) A husband and wife - two interesting, but different opinions. A) "Ozzie & Harriet, not enough conflict." B) You must have had a beautiful marriage.

What kind of feedback have you received on your characters? Do they elicit strong emotional responses? How about your villains?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Winner of Golden Days

The winner of Mary Connealy's book, "Golden Days," is: KIDZAPLENTY! Congratulations!

Thank you to all who participated in the drawing. Watch for more drawings this month as I celebrate Happy 2nd Blogoversary Month.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday Round-Up - #98

Larry Brooks, at Storyfix, discusses the thin line between the author and the protagonist.

Debbie Roome, over at PixnPens, gives tips on manuscript layout and how to write a synopsis. Have you taken the leap and written a synopsis yet? If so, what helpful hints did you discover along the way?

Don't forget: tomorrow is the last day to enter the drawing for Mary Connealy's book, "Golden Days." Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

On My Nightstand - Golden Days by Mary Connealy & Giveaway

Be sure to watch for the giveaway at the end of the post.

Amy Simons' Alaskan heritage beckons her home from Seattle. Worried about her father and recovering from an accident, she books passage on a ship. While appearing physically weak, she's got the strength and knowledge to survive Alaska's harsh climate.

Onboard ship, she meets Braden Rafferty, a widower still in mourning. He's reluctant to take on the role of protector, but cannot ignore her plight.

The author dazzled me with her descriptions of Alaska, the native terminology, and the romantic/dangerous elements of the story. I found myself fully engaged from the get-go. "Golden Days" is my first Mary Connealy book, and won't be my last. Two thumbs-up for a fast-paced, romantic mystery.

To win a copy of Mary Connealy's book, "Golden Days," please leave a comment with your email address in the SPAM-busting format: susanjreinhardt (at) gmail (dot) com. If you're a Follower or become a Follower, I'll give you an extra entry. Announce the contest on your blog, email me a link to the post at the above address, and you'll get another entry. No email address = no entry.

NOTE: The drawing is open to residents of the U.S. due to various laws. The winner is responsible for eligibility and meeting the rules of their state. No fees were required to enter this drawing, and the blog owner did not receive any compensation for the above recommendation. The book was won in another blog contest.

Deadline: Saturday, 5/8/10, at midnight EST. The winner will be drawn on Sunday, 5/9/10, and notified via email. An announcement will be made on the blog.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Happy 2nd Blogoversary

Happy Blogoversary month is officially here! Rather than make this 2nd Blogoversary about the blog, I'm making it all about you, my readers.

Starting Wednesday, May 5, 2010, I'll be doing a book giveaway every week for the entire month. Who knows? I might even throw in an extra here and there.

I'm curious. What do you think of giveaways? Do you enjoy them? Are you tired of them? Are you ready to cry, "uncle," because you need a ladder to reach the top of your TBR pile? Or are you thrilled when you get a, "You Won!," email?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Winner of Christa Parrish's Books

The winner of Christa Parrish's books, "Home Another Way," and "Watch Over Me," is...CAROL ALEXANDER! Congratulations. Please email me at susanjreinhardt (at) gmail (dot) com with your snail mail address.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the drawing. This month, we'll be celebrating with lots of giveaways. Be sure to check them out. :)