Friday, December 23, 2011

Mary, Did You Know?

Mary, did you know? is one of my favorite Christmas songs. I hope you'll check out Mark Lowry's rendition on YouTube. Have a blessed Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year!

I will be taking a blog break from 12/26/11 until 1/4/12. I need an opportunity to regroup and prepare posts for the New Year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

On My Nightstand - A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander

Claire Elise Laurent wants to escape the family business, but she doesn't know if a new life is even possible. When her father dies in an art robbery, she's sent packing to Nashville. Her late mother's warning to be careful who she loves serves her well.

Willister Sutton Monroe, a southern gentleman and lawyer, carries a boatload of guilt over his father's death. The victorious Federals move to take away his land and his hopes for the future. His position managing the affairs of Mrs. Adelicia Acklen keep body and soul together for the moment.

Tamera Alexander once again gives us an amazing story. She has a soft spot for Frenchwomen, and she's created a vulnerable streak in Claire that endeared her to me.

The author has the whole package: storyline, characters, tension, history, and a cover that makes you want to dive into the book. From what I've read, there will be more written on the doings at the Belmont Mansion. I can't wait for the next story.

Writers: When reading historicals, do you pick up tips for your own writing? Please elaborate.

Readers: Have you read any of Tamera's books? Which ones?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sanity During the Christmas Season

When my to-do list screams, "not done," I come away and remember:

It's His birthday.

When I'm bombarded with the glitz and clever merchandising of retailers, I come away and remember:

It's His birthday.

The once tiny hands, now nail scarred, beckon me to remember:

Come celebrate. It's My birthday.

How do you celebrate His birth?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #186

Shawn Lamb, at All-on Writing, compares publicity methods of yesteryear with the new landscape of Social Media.

Writers: Do you yearn for the good ol' days or are you excited about the present? Why?

Readers: How active are you with Social Media? Do you have a Facebook, Twitter, or other account?

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On My Nightstand - The Father Christmas Confessions - FREE DOWNLOAD!

Emily Ann Benedict and I met on the blogging circuit. She contacted me and asked if I'd mention her free eBook, The Father Christmas Confessions. She graciously agreed to an interview.

1.  Ebooks are all the rage now. How did you decide to go this route?

I became a fan of the eBook quite a while ago. The ease of the "download and go" nature of the eBook is addicting.

When I decided to release a novel as a free Christmas gift to my readers, the eBook was the perfect choice. Creating it only cost me a little time.

2.  What platform did you use, and how steep was the learning curve?

The Father Christmas Confessions is available in two formats. The first form is PDF, which is easy to download to any computer and some eReaders. Creating a PDF was actually simple. Microsoft Word offers the option to save any document as a PDF.

I also wanted to offer a Kindle version. This is my favorite form to read in and has really become the preference for a large percentage of eBook lovers. Creating a Kindle book did take some research, but I finally discovered that Amazon released a conversion program called Mobipocket for free. With some help from my technologically talented brother, we were able to convert an MS document into a Kindle book.

A quick note: I host the Kindle version, so it must be downloaded from my site, not Amazon. Quite understandably, Amazon does not allow authors to offer their books for free.

3. Does your eBook include cover art? How did you locate an appropriate cover?

Yes, my eBook does come with cover art, though for some reason the Kindle opens all books to the title page. A reader will have to page back to see the cover.

I created my own cover, starting with an image from I know the publisher of my first book, Only Angels Are Bulletproof, uses iStock to design all of their covers, so I searched the site until I found an image that I felt suited the story. Then I used Photoshop to make the name plate for the book and merged the two together.

Katherine Meinicke, of Katherine Alison Photography, also offered me the use of some of her amazing nature photos to add the perfect frosty feel to the website.

4. From the description, your book sounds like a romance. What was your inspiration for the story?

Christmas Romantic Comedies have always been a great favorite of mine. My family binges on Hallmark and Family Channel Christmas movies every year. Christmas novels fill our shopping carts starting in November. My mother and I often race each other to see who can read the most before Christmas.

After watching one particular movie that centered on explaining certain Santa Claus traditions, I couldn't help wondering how I might write a novel around the idea of Mr. Claus. I actually wrote it over a period of three different Christmases. It just wasn't as fun writing it unless it was Christmas time, so I'd write until the 25th then put it down until the next December. Someday I'd like to turn it into a trilogy, but for the time being I enjoyed writing each character. I hope it gives a few extra smiles to every reader.

Here's the link to the FREE DOWNLOAD:

Thanks, Emily Ann, for the interview and your generous gift.

Question for Writers: Did you learn anything new about producing an eBook? If so, what?

Question for Readers: Do you often download free eBooks? Were they for a eReader or for your computer?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Looking For the Soft Middle

While chocolate will always be my favorite, I reach for hard candy when I have a cold or tickle in my throat. Since I'm an impatient eater, I end up biting and chewing this type of confection. One day, I came across a yummy caramel with a soft center. At the point when I wanted to "be done with this thing already," the creamy goodness stopped me in my tracks.

Writing has the same effect on me. I need to take my time and learn my lessons. But, oh how I want to bite down and finish this task. Where is that soft center that keeps me engaged in the process? I'm so tired of revising, re-writing, and editing that I could scream.

Then, a non-fiction editor accepts one of my devotionals. An agent and two authors urge me to stay the course. Ah, the soft middle! A word of encouragement keeps me interested. Maybe if I stick with this writing long enough, I'll succeed.

Writers: What's your "soft middle?"
Readers: Have you ever taken time to express your appreciation for someone's writing? Do you not only recommend their books to others but let them know you're spreading the good word?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #185

Hilary Melton-Butcher, at Positive Letters, wrote a fascinating post on scents. Since we're to incorporate all the senses into our writing, I thought this would add to our knowledge.

Even if you're not a writer, it's fun to consider this aspect of life in historical times.

Writers: Do you research what type of perfumes were available during your story's timeframe? How do you go about it?
Readers: How important is the sense of smell when you're reading a book? If you can think of something specific, please share.

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

On My Nightstand - The Chair by James L. Rubart

Corin Roscoe knows antiques, but when an elderly woman offers him a special chair, he's more than a little skeptical. Although she doesn't say it outright, she implies it was made by THE CARPENTER.

Since the price is right (free), he takes it. Upon close examination, Corin marvels at the workmanship and perfect dimensions. He puts it in the window, hoping someone might be drawn into his failing establishment.

A woman and her asthmatic son wander into the shop. While there, the child experiences an attack. Exhausted, the youngster sits in the chair and falls asleep. Soon afterward, Corin reads an account of how the child was healed. He embarks on a quest that involves all sorts of characters, some of whom could be described as "unsavory."

Everyone wants the chair. Will he unlock the secret of the chair and maybe find some answers for his tormented mind? Or is it all a hoax?

James Rubart once again comes up with a premise that is both unique and electrifying. He knows how to get the reader involved in the story. I zipped through the book in a couple of days. It's a good thing I had a long Thanksgiving weekend.

If you like slightly offbeat mysteries, Mr. R. will keep you on your toes. :)

Question for Writers: Do you like traditional mysteries or something with a supernatural twist? Why?

Question for Readers: Who is your favorite mystery author?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Stuck in the Mud

In certain areas of New England, they have what is known as, "mud season." A walk without the proper gear is an invitation to ruined shoes and wet feet. Even with waterproof boots, slogging through the mess is far from pleasant.

Figuratively speaking, I've been stuck in the mud. My computer and battery back-up conspired against me like puddles waiting to drag me into their murky depths. Writing emails, blog posts, and commenting involve hitting the "Save" button every few seconds or all my work might disappear forever.

Ah, but Internet mud season is almost over. Yes, folks, I bit the bullet and am now the owner of an HP Pavilion with a 1 terebyte hard drive. My computer-savvy pastor set it up with all kinds of cool safeguards like a back-up to the Internet "cloud" and a  partitioned memory. As soon as we can coordinate a time, I'll bring it home.

Thank you for your patience and faithfulness in visiting the blog. When I'm fully back online, I'll go on a grand tour of blogdom.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #184

Laurel Garver, at Laurel's Leaves, administers a cure for run-on sentences.

Writers: Do you need this remedy? What's your favorite way to break up long sentences?

Readers: How do you feel about long sentences that make you run out of breath?

Have a blessed weekend!