Friday, June 29, 2012

This and That

After reading an average of one book a week for four years, it's time to change things up a bit around here. This year, I've read 26 books so far.

I love books. I read constantly, but I want to read for fun. I need to read for fun.

The pressure of coming up with a review or interview every week is cutting into my writing and family time. Some non-fiction books are also calling my name...books that require quiet reflection.

After reviewing my activities, I've decided to make some changes. I'll still do book recommendations, author interviews, and bring you the best links from my Web travels.

As of July 2, 2012, I'll be combining those facets of Christian Writer/Reader Connection into my Friday time slot. While you'll see an occasional Wednesday post if I have something to say, my new schedule will be:

Monday and Friday.

Bloggers: How often do you post on your blog, and what steps have you taken to keep it from consuming all your time and energy?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

From Dyslexic Artist to Published Author - Guest Post & Giveaway

Paula Rose Michelson facilitates a monthly Writers Workshop and is the author of Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing, a 6-book saga. She's also a wife, mom, grandmother, and founder of LAMB Ministries, which helps women recover from trauma and abuse.

Paula has offered to do a giveaway. Check out the details after the post.

Below Paula shares her struggles with Dyslexia. Please welcome her, and draw inspiration from her story.

"Paula, please come forward."

Aware that I had not written the expected autobiography that constituted one-third of my semester's grade, I cringed. At fourteen, I knew I had nothing noteworthy to write about. Now, my seventh grade teacher would hand me a failing grade. If only I'd handed in the paper mom corrected.  What a fool for throwing a semester's work away and starting over, especially since I never understood the difference between words like to, too, or two.

I stood and began the longest journey of self discovery I’ve ever taken. While I told myself how brave I'd been to write about what mattered to me instead of the mundane: I was born on, I live at, drivel in an autobiography, my confidence fled before I could look up and face the teacher.

Whether it was my self talk, my profound belief that I'd been true to myself, or the fact that a merciful God had taken pity upon me, I did not know. What I did know was the teacher smiled at me. I stood there staring at her, unable to speak. The bell rang, she dismissed the class, and asked me to stay.

Miss White handed my essay back to me. “Never have I given a student an A+++ for content and an F- - - for mechanics.”

This single sentence set the rudder of my life in a new direction. Looking back, I realize a paradigm shift occurred. Before I looked upon myself as not quite good enough. Years later, I learned the issue plaguing me was called, "Dyslexia," a learning disability that affects the ability to read.  Thanks to Miss White and God, it didn’t matter because I knew I had abilities and could use them.

Giveaway Details:

1) You must be a Follower of Christian Writer/Reader Connection.
2) The giveaway is open to residents of the United States.
3) To enter, comment on this post and leave your email address. 
4) Deadline: Saturday, June 30, 2012, at midnight. The winner will be announced on Sunday, July 1st, and notified by email. 
5) Paula will send the book out as soon as she receives your snail mail address.

Writers: What kind of obstacles have you overcome to make it this far in your writing journey?

Readers: Do you like reading about author's lives and struggles? Why?

Monday, June 25, 2012

If I Had An Assistant

When visiting an Amish community, I came across a plaque that said: The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get. Like most writers, time management is a constant issue.

Many people dream of hitting the lottery. Not me. I dream about making enough to hire a full-time assistant. I even have a job description ready if that day should ever come:

1.  Organize my office and files. This item alone should keep the person busy for a year or so.

2.  Update my telephone/address book. Instead of digging through several folders with scraps of paper, I could have the information at my fingertips.

3.  The assistant must be a genius at formatting manuscripts. I'm not, and it's a constant struggle.

4.  Research savvy. Wouldn't it be nice to have someone pull together all the little facts and figures I need for my latest WIP? Now that would be a serious time saver.

5.  If the assistant also functioned as a prayer warrior, a supplier of encouraging words, a brainstorm specialist, and a baker of chocolate chip cookies, I wouldn't mind a bit.

Feel free to chime in! What time-saving jobs would your ideal assistant perform? Let's have some fun with this. :)

Photo: nksz

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday Round-Up - #211

Carol Alexander, at Everything Home With Carol, shares a great method for teaching kids how to write a story.

Do you have any budding writers in your family?  How are you nurturing their gift?

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

On My Nightstand - Love on the Range by Jessica Nelson

Gracelyn Riley's obsession with finding and interviewing Striker, a man who rescues young women from kidnappers, is all part of a plan. If she can make a name for herself in publishing, she can avoid an arranged marriage and be an independent woman.

When the influenza outbreak occurs, her parents ship her to her uncle in Texas. Coincidentally, newspaper accounts put Striker in that area.

Her uncle's partner, Trevor Cruz, doesn't know how to handle this new threat to his secret identity. He worries that Gracie will get herself into a heap of trouble. He vows to protect her, which means they'll be spending a lot of time together.

Author Jessica Nelson's debut book delighted me. She's a natural storyteller and held my interest every step of the way. I'm looking forward to her future books. Way to go, Jess!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sunshine Award

Ruth, at Out on a Limb, gave me this award way back in April. I'm finally getting around to answering the questions and passing it on. Thanks, Ruth, for this honor.

1) Favorite color - Purple, but pink comes in a close second.

2) Favorite animal - Cats. I haven't had any for a long time. My late husband was allergic.

3) Favorite number - Sorry, I don't have one.

4) Favorite drink - I love milk, especially if I have cookies to go along with it.

5) Facebook or Twitter - Facebook. I'm too wordy for Twitter although I do have an account.

6) My passion - Next to Jesus, writing. :)

7) Getting or giving - I experience joy in both, but giving probably edges out getting.

8) Favorite pattern - I like floral patterns best. They're so cheerful.

9) Favorite day of the week - Friday. I don't think I have to explain that one.

10) Favorite flower - I love roses - any color, any variety. Their beauty never fails to make me smile.

I'm supposed to pass this along to other bloggers, but you all bring sunshine into my life. Consider yourself a winner and join in the fun if you have time.

Thanks again, Ruth!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday Round-Up - #210

Kay Strom talks about inventing new cliches.

Have you coined any new cliches? Can you give an example of a catchy phrase that grates on your nerves? Let's have some fun with this. :)

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

On My Nightstand - Paper Roses by Amanda Cabot

With the death of her parents and a little sister to raise, Sarah Dobbs heads for Texas as a mail-order bride. Austin's tender letters stir something in her heart, and she considers them her "paper roses." Upon her arrival, she learns that he's dead.

Austin's brother, Clay, is angry and determined to find his brother's killer. Then, he plans to leave Texas forever. Will he remain blind to Sarah and all that life has to offer or will he see the truth before it's too late?

This was my first Amanda Cabot book, but it sure won't be my last. I want to read the rest of her Texas Dreams books. Both characters dealt with hatred and came to grips with the bitterness eating them alive.

Writers: Do you focus on a particular aspect of character when writing?

Readers: Has a book (other than the Bible) changed your thinking or your life? In what way?

Monday, June 11, 2012

What's in Your Workspace?

Crystal Laine Miller's post over at Hoosier Ink, inspired me to write about my workspace. While I like organization in theory, I'm more on the lines of organized chaos.

My workspace is a full office, complete with a large L-shaped desk, another desk with bookshelves towering above it, desk chairs, a credenza, filing cabinets, and bookcases. I not only write here, but also manage my small business and my life.

The long and the short of it: My office is my purse exploded.

What are my requirements for successful writing:

1) Quiet. With the fire alarm horn across the street and heavy traffic, silence is more of a wish than a reality.

2)  A snack and something to drink. For some unknown reason, these two items keep me tethered to my desk and reduce my tendency to wander around the house.

3)  Lots and lots of paper and pens. My computer functions well for my WIP and the Internet, but I need paper and pens to capture those elusive bits of inspiration. I'm also a compulsive list maker. It's the only thing that preserves my sanity.

4)  Books. I love being surrounded by books. I can't get enough of them. While my new Kindle is convenient, it doesn't provide the same ambiance as a bookcase filled with my favorite fiction and non-fiction tomes.

5)  Prayer/My Bible. Everything flows from my relationship with the Lord. Without His inspiration, writing may happen, but it lacks the power to change lives. I've said this before, but it bears repeating: I want my words to be containers of life.

Writers: What kind of atmosphere is essential for your writing?

Readers: Please describe your absolute favorite place to read and tell us why.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Friday Round-Up - #209

Tyrean participated in the  A-Z Challenge. X is a tough letter, but she came up with a dandy word: Xylem. Check out her blog post at Tyreans Writing Spot to find out what it means and how it relates to writing.

Have a blessed weekend!

Photo: fritz018

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

On My Nightstand - A Bride's Sweet Surprise by Ramona K. Cecil

Regina's two older sisters married for love, but her father wants a German son-in-law. She's shocked when he announces he's arranged a marriage for her with someone from the old country, a man she's never met. She devises a plan to make herself unappealing to him, but she didn't count on one thing: falling in love.

Diedrich is in a no-win situation. He either gets conscripted into the Prussian army or marries a woman in America. What if his bride-to-be is ugly? He hopes to avoid the marriage and become rich in California's gold fields. He changes his mind when Regina captures his heart.

When everything seems to be headed toward the great Happily-Ever-After Ending, a startling secret threatens to unravel their lives.

Ramona K. Cecil did a wonderful job with this story. She showed the difficulties of making tough decisions and the turmoil of these young people. I'm looking forward to her future books.

Writers: Much has been written about the theme/moral of a story. Do you decide ahead of time what underlying spiritual thread will run through your book or does it happen organically?

Readers: Have any of the books you read impacted your own life decisions? Please share.

Disclaimer: I won this novel in a blog giveaway. Neither the author nor the publisher asked for a review. I did not receive any remuneration for giving my opinion.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Perfect Dress

When I'm looking for the perfect dress or top, I can't rely on their appearance. What seems like the ideal choice on the rack often brings disappointment or downright horror in the dressing room. By the same token, the items I've brought in on a whim or with little enthusiasm often become my favorites.

Writing a book can resemble trying on clothing. I'll ask myself questions like:

1) What will make my character more realistic? A collection of some kind? A love for a  particular color or type of clothing? An endearing habit or favorite food? A passion for a cause?

2) What timeframe/setting will be the best vehicle for my story idea? Will it work as a contemporary, a historical, or a futuristic novel?

3) How can I use my own interests/hobbies to enrich my writing?

I once switched the time period of my first manuscript to the present day. Or attempted this feat. It didn't work, but I'm glad I tried. The effort bolstered my confidence in my story and the direction it took.

Now, I try on different scenarios like apparel. I recently snagged a great dress on a clearance rack. Who knows what treasures await as I explore my writing toolbox?

Writers: Do you try what-if questions? Have you ever made your story take a detour or changed characters during the editing process? Let's discuss this in the comments.

Readers: Do you ever get annoyed with a particular character in the books you read? Please share.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Winner of Grand Finale!

Congratulations to:

                                                        JOY ANNE!

Please email me at: susanjreinhardt AT gmail DOT com with your snail mail address. You have until Saturday, June 9th, to claim your prize.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the 4th Blogoversary Extravaganza. I hope you enjoyed the guest posts and giveaways.  

Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday Round-Up - #208

Kay Strom, at Kay's Words, shares how to make your good writing great by blending fiction and non-fiction skills.

Writers: What are some of the fiction techniques you use in your non-fiction and vice-versa?

Readers: What makes a non-fiction book capture your interest?

Have a blessed weekend!

Photo: 4score