Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #167

Rita Gerlach, over at InSpire, posted an article on making research "one of the most enjoyable aspects of your writing life." I hope you'll check it out.

Is research fun or drudgery to you? Do you hunt down facts like an amateur sleuth or stretch them? How do you make this part of writing exciting?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

On My Nightstand - Oops!

A stack of books glares at me. I sigh. As the conference looms on the horizon, my reading time is fast disappearing.

For the month of August, I won't be recommending/reviewing books. Instead, I'll do my best to write general interest posts, conduct surveys (totally unscientific), and read as much as I can.

What's your favorite reading season? Spring, summer, fall, or winter? Why?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Laundry Lessons

When the laundry is done, I feel like the last day of school before summer vacation...or Friday at 5:00 P.M. This operation involves schlepping everything to the laundromat. Yup, whether it's sunny, raining, or snowing, the clothes must swish around the washers and be fluffed and puffed in the dryers.

Reading historical romances gave me a new appreciation for modern-day chores. After all, I don't have to lug water from a stream, heat it, and spend a whole day scrubbing my clothes. I've learned to be thankful, and JUST GET IT DONE instead of complaining.

Hmm, it seems to me I've taken up quite a bit of time talking about how much preparation needs to be done for the conference and other projects. What positive aspects can I bring to the discussion? 1) The Lord gives me inspiration. 2) I have a working computer and printer that makes the task easier. 3) Supportive family and friends encourage me along the way. 4) I've been blessed with modest success. 5) I'm able to use the gift God gave me.

If I spent as much time writing as I do studying, reading, and talking about it, I'd be producing three or four manuscripts a year and many more articles. And that's the truth.

Challenge: Let's be doers! Who will join me in JUST GETTING IT DONE? How do you plan to accomplish your goals for upcoming conferences and submissions?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #166

Kay Marshall Strom tells us how to build a strong story in 3 steps.

Do you include these elements, which resemble the 3-act format? What suggestions would you give a newbie novelist?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

On My Nightstand - The Last Operative by Jerry B. Jenkins

Jordan Kirkwood's service for his country took precedence over everything in his life, including his family and God. By the time he decides to remedy that situation, he's presented with an assignment so dangerous and so critical to the nation's security that he's torn between those he loves and the nation.

Vacation plans come to a screeching halt in the face of a terrorist attack after 9/11. He no longer has the luxury of choosing his path. He must deal with the threat head on or pay the ultimate price.

The author plunges into the action in the style of all spy tales. There's lots of intrigue, tension, and...violence. It's real world stuff and necessary to the story. Mr. Jenkins, who co-authored the famous Left Behind series, knows how much is enough and how much is too much.

The value of family relationships, balance between work and personal life, and how they fit into the context of serving God and country raised strong ethical and spiritual issues.

I'd forgotten how much I enjoy this type of novel. My latest interest in historical romances diverted my attention for quite some time. Variety keeps us our reading habits from getting like stale bread.

Have you found yourself stuck in one genre? Do you alternate your book choices so you keep the reading experience fresh and alive?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Looking For Inspiration

My 10-year-old eyes stared at the array of precious stones displayed at the museum. The diamonds, amethysts, rubies, emeralds all sparkled with the story of God's creativity.

Today, I'm equally dazzled by God's creativity when He flashes an idea or series of ideas into my heart. Oh, how I want to share those gems with everyone. How do I capture their essence in word form?

While many writers argue you can't wait for inspiration, you have to come up with something when you're on deadline, I know I cannot bring forth something living with mere letters or words. God knows all about editors and agents. He knows when we need that great plot, that unforgettable character. So, I go to the source of all creativity and ask Him: "What do you want me to write? What's on Your heart?"

Now, this all seems very spiritual and in the clouds, but God is super practical. For instance, I'm praying about what to bring to the upcoming conference. I'm also cleaning out my office. Well, the other day I emptied a shelf, and there were some old journals. I set them off to the side. When I finished my task, I opened one, and there was a devotional thought I'd written down in 2006...five years ago! One devotional, one answered prayer, and excitement as I re-live the moment they were penned.

Do you get all frustrated and decide you need to "help" God? Do you ever have God ideas that you personally don't like and don't want to follow but can't shake it? Let's talk.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #165

Do you have the editing blues? Janalyn Voight, at Author Haven, shares 5 ways to edit.

How do you approach editing once your rough draft is finished?

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

On My Nightstand - Hidden Affections by Delia Parr

In 1831, divorce meant your life was ruined. Through no fault of her own, Annabelle Tyler discovers her husband of one week has abandoned and divorced her.

She leaves town, hoping to make a new life for herself when the unthinkable occurs. Her life goes from bad to worse when she and Harrison Graymoor, a fellow rider, are forced to marry at gunpoint to "defend her honor."

They make their way back to Philadelphia, vowing to get an annulment. Since Harrison is wealthy, he doesn't expect it to be a problem. Alas, nothing about this situation is easy, and their "marriage" lasts longer than either of them anticipated. Is it long enough for them to fall in love?

First of all, I'd like to thank my writing buddy and friend, Karen Lange, of Write Now, for blessing me with this book. The lady has good taste in reading material.

I loved this story from start to finish and couldn't imagine how the author would ever get these two characters out of trouble. When I thought everything was about to work out, she'd create another crisis.

This must be the year of great cover art. You don't get the full impact from this picture, but it's stunning. In my opinion, real people on covers create a more lifelike effect.

Be prepared with tissues for a good cry at the end. Delia Parr's storytelling will send me on a search for more of her work.

When was the last time a book elicited a strong emotional reaction from you? Has anyone ever told you one of your books, articles, poems, or devotionals touched them on that level? What about cover art? Real people or a drawing?

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher provided this book. The opinions expressed are mine, which holds true with all my recommendations.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #164

MaryAnn Diorio, at The Write Power, gives tips on writing deep Point of View.

Have you put yourself in your character's skin?

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

On My Nightstand - An Unlikely Suitor by Nancy Moser

Lucy Scarpelli and her family learn they must move from the tenement they've called home for many years. The crisis turns into a blessing when she meets a gentleman, who has an apartment to rent. When he learns Lucy, her Mom, and sister are seamstresses, he hires them to work in Madame Moreau's dress shop.

Rowena Langdon, a rich but handicapped young woman, comes into the shop for a new wardrobe. Lucy's heart goes out to her, and she designs a special outfit to minimize her problems.

A friendship developes between the two women, and Lucy is asked to join the Langdon's at their summer home in Newport, R.I. The weeks in Newport bring opportunity, love, sacrifice, and growth to both of them.

This is the first book I've read by Nancy Moser. I picked it up as a result of reading her blog Footnotes: Novel Inspirations From History, which she co-authors with Stephanie Grace Whitson. (You can find the link on my blogroll.) She described her research on Newport in a post that I highlighted in one of my Friday Round-Ups.

Since I've been to Newport several times, I enjoyed the descriptions of the Cliff Walk and the "summer cottages." Although I figured out all but one of the love interests, I enjoyed the ride.

I'm glad I found this author and her books. I'll be reading more of them.

How do you generally discover new-to-you authors? Blogs? Book reviews?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Of Purses, Plots, and Prioritizing - Part III

Along with the blessing of a new job comes a shift in priorities. To fit this rock into my time jar, I've had to empty it and sort them all out. My devotional time, family, church, writing, sleep, and the job constitute the biggest demands on my daily allotment of 24 hours.

How do I fit all the smaller stones, pebbles, and sand into my already packed jar? What stays and what gets set aside?

Here's the breakdown of my smaller items and my decisions:

1) My house. I find that the clean-as-I-go method helps keep things under control. My shower gets wiped down every day. A quick dusting as I go through a room works wonders. Then, there are the rough days when I get behind. When that occurs, it's time for serious cleaning.

2) Surveys. I've virtually cut them out of my life except for one company that I particularly enjoy.

3) Swagbucks. My time is now divided in short segments for this activity. On certain days, I allow myself a bit more time, especially when I'm preparing for a food shopping trip.

4) Couponing. Okay, let's not get crazy. A girl has to get her bargains. Still, I've streamlined the process and cut down on the number of coupon blogs I visit. I focus on the ones that provide the best information for my local area.

5) Blogging. Ouch! Cutting back on blogging means major pain. Visiting all my friends and followers brings joy and inspiration to my day. You may have noticed I don't catch every post you publish each week. Unless I eliminate sleep, it's impossible. I haven't forgotten you and will do my best to stop by your place and comment as much as I can.

As far as my own posting, I'm so grateful for the scheduling feature. I've been able to stay current because I write my bits ahead of time. The Friday Round-Up is shorter with only one link. You're busy too, so maybe one link is enough. For now, I'll stick with my Monday, Wednesday, and Friday routine and see how it works out.

Thanks for your patience as I work through my personal time crunch. I appreciate all my writing/reading friends. Do you have any time management suggestions or experiences you'd like to share?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #163

Gina Conroy, at Writer Interrupted, welcomes Camy Tang. She writes about the Top Ten Mistakes in Manuscripts and gives some excellent advice.

What, if anything, would you add to her list?

Have a safe, blessed 4th of July celebration!