Monday, January 30, 2012

The Anatomy of Discouragement

Last Monday, I shared how I almost quit writing novels. Sadness, frustration, and sheer weariness drove me to the edge of that cliff.

As I struggled to regain my footing, I knew something must have gone awry in my thought processes. What was the trigger that set discouragement in motion? Nothing monumental occurred in the previous weeks.

I prayed, shared with friends, but seemed to get worse instead of better. As I journaled, a pattern emerged. Somehow I'd slipped into a glass-half-empty mentality, as well as getting too self-focused.

Not long ago, I wrote a gratitude list. Reading it made me notice all the blessings God gave me during 2011. Maybe I didn't get an agent or a book contract, but I met an author, who helped me create a proposal and gave me valuable insights. Another author read my manuscript and urged me to keep writing. I found a job that I love, and my Mom's health improved. The list goes on, and a glimmer of light entered my soul.

Another factor provided fertile ground for the despair haunting me. I'd allowed myself to get rundown physically. The intense schedule surrounding the holidays whittled my gym visits down to 2 per week, we were eating more fast food, and I'd come down with a cold that didn't want to yield its grip. Even though I'd simplified my traditions and enjoyed a meaningful Christmas, physical rest eluded me.

Next week, I'll give you a glimpse into the dangers of discouragement.

What are the things that trigger an "I want to give up" feeling in you?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Winner of Patti Lacy's Book

The winner of Patti Lacy's book, "Reclaiming Lily," is:


Congratulations, Sonia. Please email me at susanjreinhardt AT gmail DOT com. When I have your snail mail address, I'll send it to Patti. She will mail you her book.

Thanks to all who entered the giveaway.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Round-Up - #190

Mary DeMuth guest posts on Novel Rocket (formerly Novel Journey) about her experiences with Ebook publishing. She shares excellent tips and links.

Do you read Ebooks on occasion, regularly, or never? What titles have you read? Did you know you can read them even if you don't own a device such as the Kindle or Nook?

Have a blessed weekend!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Interview At Life Lessons

Maria Morgan, at Life Lessons, interviews Karen and me about our collaboration on a novel. Get the skinny on how two independent writers mesh their ideas into one story.

See you there!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Author Interview - Patti Lacy - Part 2 - AND GIVEAWAY

Multi-published author, Patti Lacy, is back for Part 2 of our interview. Let's get right into the questions and answers.

5. Patti, we'd love to hear a little about your writing journey.

After a court reporting career, I  returned to the teaching roots established by an education degree from Baylor and my teacher  parents and taught Humanities at a community college. In 2005, God whispered for me to write the story of my best friend, a brave Irishwoman who was banished from her beloved cliffs of County Clare, Ireland, when she was only five years old. Kregel Publications published that first story, An Irishwoman's Tale, and ever since, I've been consumed by the passion to write.

God gifts me real-life stories that capture my heart (two little girls, separated by racism and a chain link fence; a mother, taking a first...and perhaps ride with her baby boy; sisters, separated by seas and secrets and an insidious disease). Using the tenets of Colossians 3:23, I do my best to capture His gifts in novels. With His  provision, I will write.

6. I noticed you use flashbacks. What's the key to working them in without slowing the action?

So you noticed, did you? :) Some folks would argue that I succeed with my flashbacks. Just check out my Amazon reviews! Since my youth, I've loved framed stories and adore parallel actions. Accordingly, I write that way but certainly cannot speak to keys to "working them in."

As an aside, my two WIPs have NO flashbacks. It's kinda fun, anticipating new challenges!!! Y'all know there are ALWAYS challenges!

7.  Do you have any advice for those of us seeking publication?

Write for the Audience of One. He will provide the only "outline" for an often lonely, dispiriting, and arduous career path.

8.  Last but not least, what projects do you have in the pipeline? I'm looking forward to more Patti Lacy books.

Susan, thank you for your tireless support and your prayers. Especially your prayers!! Right now my agent, Natasha Kern, is shopping a series, "Life in Normal," especially the first book, Below Normal. What happens when the dreams...and despair...of a bereaved widow and a sassy grocery store bagger collide and their lives jump out of their "Normal" ruts? Yep, this series is set in my hometown, Normal, Illinois!!!

God, showing His humor, has inspired me through the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Team of Rivals, to consider a Civil War romance. I know, I can't believe it, either. Hang on, readers!!!!

Thanks, Susan, I loved chatting with your folks!!!!

Thank you, Patti, for sharing your path to publication.

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: Patti has offered to do a giveaway of her book, "Reclaiming Lily!" Here are the rules:

1) The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only.

2) Leave a comment on this post with your email address. No email = no entry.

3) The winner will be drawn on Sunday, January 29th and notified via email. An announcement will be made on the blog.

4) For complete details, see the giveaway post from last week (Thursday).

Disclaimer: I did not receive any remuneration for this interview or the giveaway from the author or the publisher.

Writers: What did you glean from Patti's answers for your own writing journey?

Readers: What part of the interview surprised or made you stand up and take notice?

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Week I Almost Quit

Yes. Me. The determined, focused writer wanted to quit. The one who declared the "Q" word wasn't in her vocabulary.

I sat at my computer screen and flipped through the pages of my manuscript, wondering why I was putting myself through this agony. The endless classes, edits, re-writes, and rejections reached critical mass. Oh, and don't forget Social Media, which ate through my writing time like Pac-Man.

I'd experienced similar thoughts in the past, but this time was different. Weariness, sadness, and a whole range of emotions bombarded me. Thoughts like, "no one wants my story, maybe the timing is wrong, maybe I missed God with this whole novel thing," ran through my head non-stop.

Thank God for my writer friends, for the messages in church, and for the vision He put in my heart back in 2005. The next few Monday posts will catalog my battle with discouragement. In case you're wondering, I'm back - moving a bit slower, evaluating my next step, and keeping a sharp eye out for thoughts that pull me down.

Writers:  Does the New Year sometimes affect you in a negative way? How do you deal with discouragement?

Readers:  Discouragement isn't limited to writers. It can impact all areas of our lives. How do you handle this emotion?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Round-Up - #189

Laurel Garver, at Laurel's Leaves, explores formatting changes that make proofreading easier.

I preview my work in Blogger and often catch mistakes. What are some of the methods you use to catch those "oops" in your manuscripts or blog posts?

Have a blessed weekend!

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Patti Lacy emailed me yesterday and offered to do a giveaway!

1.  Instead of two chances to win by commenting on the interview posts, I'll give you a third if you comment here as well. Post it on Facebook and Tweet it, and I'll give you another two entries, but you must comment on at least one blog post and inform me.

2.  This giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only.

3.  Include your email address in your comment, using the spam busting format. If you don't leave an email address, I'll assume you do not want to be entered into the giveaway.

4.  The winner will be drawn on Sunday, January 29, 2012. The giveaway is void where prohibited, and the winner takes all responsibility for their eligibility.

5.  I'll notify the winner via email and post the results on my blog.

Disclaimer: I received no remuneration for doing this interview or giveaway.

Those who have already commented are automatically entered, but I ask you to stop by and leave your email address. Don't miss this great opportunity to read one of Patti's super books!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Author Interview - Patti Lacy - Part 1

Patti Lacy and I met online through Jeanette Levellie. I've read two of her books, recommended them, and look forward to her next offering.

She's done some awesome research, but I'll let her share during the interview. Let's give Patti a warm, Christian Writer/Reader welcome!

1.  I loved your new book, Reclaiming Lily. How long did it take you to research and write this story?

Susan, THANK YOU! I spent around a year developing the proposal for Lily while finishing galley proofs on The Rhythm of Secrets, then capped off preparation for my China project with an international trip! For seventeen days, the sights and smells and sounds of a glorious country unfolded!

For this my fourth novel, I signed a contract in the summer of 2010, BEFORE the story was completed, and had to ramp up my scribbles on paper since Bethany House set a due date of November 15, 2010. For me, this was big-time  pressure, but thank God, I did it!

2.  What's your secret for writing well-defined characters? Do you use character charts?

Susan, no character charts yet, but I sure might one of these days! My secret? I pick and choose from the traits of neighbors, friends, and acquaintances, so be careful if you know me or live in or around Normal, Illinois!!!

3.  Did you visit small Chinese villages like the one in Reclaiming Lily? The detail puts the reader in the setting.

China's so spectacular, she just demanded to be a character in the book! I DID visit a strand of small villages, nestled in a fertile valley. (There were seven when viewed from atop a nearby hill). One special village provided the inspiration for Kai's childhood home. God blessed me with attentive, gracious hosts who cooked over a fire stove and served steaming cups of tea in a shaded, spacious courtyard. Yes, I spent a lifetime in China - for 17 days.

4. Dr. Kai Chang's thought processes reflect the culture. Did you find it difficult developing her character? Did  you have an "expert" help you?

Over 20 research books, a couple of films,and a wonderful tour guide, banker, and friend (also a Chinese citizen) opened her treasure trove of memories to help me, I hope, get it right. Of course, as I state in my author's notes, the real Dr. Kai ripped open her heart...and sorrowful share what compelled her to come to America. It's such a subjective thing to dissect and probe another person's motivations and goals. I did hear that Dr. Kai bought books for all her friends! Do you think that's a good thing???

Thanks, Patti. We'll post Part 2 of the interview next Wednesday (1/25).

What's the biggest thing you've done to research your book? Patti traveled to China. Have you taken a trip for research purposes? Have you gathered information from experts? We'd love to hear about it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Guest Post: Playing Host: Five Benefits of Blog Interviews by Karen Lange

Today, I'm welcoming my writing buddy and good friend, Karen Lange. She's put together a list of blogging interview benefits. Enjoy!

Interviews are a great way to add interest and draw readers to your blog. They provide exposure, not just for the guest, but for the host, too. Reflecting on the interviews I’ve conducted, I realized that I’ve learned a lot from the experience. These items top the list:

1)      Authors/writers are real people.

I have long held them in high regard, and rightly so. They are a talented bunch. But guess what? They are more down to earth than I expected. Fame, fortune, and writing talent haven’t spoiled them. They are just like us – experiencing ups, downs, and everything in between. Knowing this immediately sets me at ease, and makes me realize that with creativity and hard work, I can attain what they have, such as a published novel.

2)      Everyone’s work habits are different.

There’s a common notion that writers must put pen to paper daily. Not so. Some writers crank out oodles of words each day, but for others, nary a word hits the page until the weekend. There are early morning writers, night owls, and ones who snack on chocolate while hitting the keys mid afternoon. You know what? They all get it done; writing in a way that best suits them. And we can too.

3)      It broadens horizons.

Assembling content for an interview stretches me. It is important to create engaging questions that will draw interesting answers and useful info for my blog readers. Brainstorming and examining the writing industry from various angles helps me assemble info, appreciate different viewpoints, and hence, ask better questions.

4)      Great writing tips.

Talk about a walking resource library! These gifted wordsmiths could publish volumes. I’ve gleaned valuable insight on research, critique partners, character development, publishing, novel writing, and so much more.

5)      Encouragement.

The heartfelt thoughts of an experienced writer offer candid and wonderful insight. Quotes like “Persevere and keep writing even when things aren’t going well” and “Rejection is not fatal” ring in my ears for weeks after an interview. Gems like these season my perspective and writing, and encourage me to keep moving forward.

Have you ever hosted an interview on your blog? If not, I encourage you to try it. You might be surprised at how much you learn.

Karen Lange is a fan of chocolate, hockey, and Susan J. Reinhardt. She is a writer, blogger, and online writing instructor at the Coffeehouse for Writers. Visit her blog at

Wow, Karen, thanks for ranking me right up there with chocolate and hockey! I know how serious you are about our favorite snack and your sports.

Okay, everyone, it's your turn to chime in with thoughts on author interviews.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Round-Up - #188

Ane Mulligan, at Novel Rocket, enlightens us on the difference between character-driven  and plot-driven novels.

Writers: Is your WIP character or plot driven?

Readers: Do you care whether or not the books you read center around a character or a story and why?

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

On My Nightstand - The Gunman's Bride by Catherine Palmer

When Bart Kingsley tracks down the love of his life, Laura Rose, she's terrified and drawn to him all at the same time. His appearance could ruin all of her careful planning to become a teacher and be free of a man's control.

Bart is tired of running from the law and his past. He wants to settle down, but will his Rosie trust him? While Laura Rose has some dreams, he has a few ideas of his own. Befriended by a colorful local, he's accepted into the community. Can these two make a life together or will they be swallowed by the choices they made as teenagers?

Christy-Award Winning Author, Catherine Palmer, immerses the reader in the 1880's. The New Mexico town of Raton comes to life through her talented pen. A Love Inspired Historical offering, this book was published last year. She also produced 4 other titles for them in 2011.

A quick read, historical romance fans will sigh as Bart and Rosie's story unfolds. I've read several of Catherine Palmer's books and enjoyed them all.

Question for you: Do you seek out new authors or stay with your tried-and-true favorites? Why?

Disclaimer: I received this book as a Christmas gift. All opinions are mine. I was not paid or asked to review the novel by either the author or publisher.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Regaining Lost Momentum

Don't you wish you could type faster? At one point in my career, I could type 120 words per minute. After years away from daily speed typing, I'm probably at half that level. It's a classic case of, "if you don't use it, you lose it."

Computer woes forced a slowdown with blogging. I watched as my nice 4-week backlog of posts melted like a snowman in the sunshine. Thanksgiving and Christmas ate into reading time, while author interviews were put off until the New Year.

I'd love to have someone wind up a key and bring me back to pre-Thanksgiving blogging/writing levels. Like typing, I need to re-build my skills and get in the groove.

How do you regain lost momentum?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday Round-Up - #187

Carol, at Everything Home With Carol, presents ideas on transitioning from Christmas into the New Year.

Which suggestion is your favorite?

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

On My Nightstand - A Heart Revealed by Julie Lessman

The O'Connor clan thinks they know Emma Malloy. After Charity O'Connor Dennehy rescued her from an abusive husband, the family embraced her as one of their own. She holds firm to her vows, but love ambushes her from an unexpected source.

Sean O'Connor, the oldest O'Connor sibling, is a dyed-in-the-wool bachelor. When Rose Kelly sets her sights on him, he's faced with the fact he's not so impervious to female charms. The only woman he feels comfortable with is Emma, a good friend and confidante.

Since both these characters appeared in Julie Lessman's other books, I thought I had quite a bit of information on their backstory. Well, let me go on record: I was wrong. The straightforward facts took some intense and surprising turns. While I caught one little clue that Julie dropped during the story, it wasn't enough to give me the full picture about Emma. Toward the end of the book, my bedtime came and went. I couldn't wait to see the ending.

If you've read any of the author's other books, you know she's heavy on the romance. Yet, while she's realistic, she's careful with her descriptions. Her stories have a strong moral compass, as well as spiritual themes. Even when her characters mess up, they understand the consequences and see that God's ways are better than our ways. 

I'm curious who will be the subject of Julie's next novel. My guess is Steven, the younger brother. Once she goes through all the siblings, I wonder if she'll start writing about the grandkids. Hmm, maybe it's time to invite Julie for another interview. What do you say, Julie?

If edgy romance is your genre, you'll love all of her books. Have you read any Julie Lessman books? Which one was your favorite?