Monday, July 30, 2012

Hanging Curtains

Remember the old Peanuts line: Happiness is a Warm Puppy? Lace curtains put a smile on my face. I'm a sucker for the delicate designs, the fresh white color, and the old-world charm.

Unfortunately, the putting-up-curtains gene didn't come with the I-love-decorating gene. Getting on step ladders, stretching, and getting the edges of curtain rods to hook onto microscopic brackets is not only maddening, but downright dangerous.

My latest stint with taking down draperies, washing, ironing, and re-hanging them almost ended in disaster. The valance on the bathroom window required a major stretch from the top of the step ladder. I felt myself wobbling, but thank God, I was able to regain my balance. That's when I called for reinforcements, a.k.a., my neighbor.

With everything back in order and no broken bones, I mulled over the experience. My writing journey can mimic certain aspects of the dreaded curtain adventures.

1) No matter how I stretch to attain a skill level, there are times when I must seek expert advice. This comes in the form of critique partners, craft books, and asking lots of questions.

2) My early tries with window coverings were ignorance is bliss ventures. When I brought my fledgling fiction attempt to a writers conference and presented it, I had no idea what I was doing. Thanks to kind writers and editors, they showed me how I could improve my novel.

With much trial and error, my knowledge base expanded on both fronts. Everything, whether it's curtains or novels, has a learning curve.

3) The end result brings much satisfaction. New or freshly laundered curtains give the room a boost, and a well-written article or novel gives me that same "ahhh" moment.

Writers and Readers: Finish this line: Happiness is...   Then explain why. Let's have some fun today!

Photo Credit: humeniuk

Friday, July 27, 2012

On My Kindle - Angel Sister by Ann H. Gabhart

Kate Reece Merritt takes care of everyone: her sisters, her mother, and even her father. Yet when the young teen finds an abandoned child on the church steps, her caregiving moves to a whole new level. Little Lorena Birdsong adores Kate and believes she's an angel.

I loved this sweet story! Ann H. Gabhart captures every nuance in the complicated relationships between family members and townspeople. Her characters draw you in and capture your heart.

If you gravitate toward character-driven fiction, you'll find much satisfaction in this novel. I'm glad I picked up Angel Sister and discovered another author to add to my favorites list.

Writers: Have you written children into your novel? What are some of the steps you take to make them authentic?

Readers: Do you like books that delve into the hearts and minds of characters or do you find them tedious? Why?

Have a blessed weekend, and Happy Birthday to my dear Mom!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Small Beginnings

My blogging friend, Carol, inspired me with her post about making a difference. I hope you'll visit her and check it out.

Do you ever wonder if your writing or blogging makes an impact on anyone? I do. Carol's post reminded me not to despise small beginnings. The young woman she wrote about collected $164 in pennies when she first began fund raising. Little by little, the amount grew until it's now in the millions. She inspired others to join in her efforts.

Our voices may be a whisper in cyberspace or print, but someone is listening. As that person catches the vision and runs with it, the sound amplifies. We'll never know the true extent of our influence until we reach our heavenly home.

Writers: How do you maintain a healthy perspective on your writing journey?

Readers: Has a devotional, blog post, or book encouraged you to press on through a difficult situation? Please share.

I'll go first, speaking from a reader's perspective. After my husband died, I read a book where one of the characters dealt with grief. The author handled the subject and brought much comfort to my aching heart.

Photo credit: aquima

Friday, July 20, 2012

On My Nightstand - Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klassen

There's no grace for Charlotte Lamb when she makes a disastrous choice. She leaves home and family for London's Milkweed Manor to hide her secret.

The desperation of the other women opens her eyes to unpleasant realities, and marks her life forever. Like them, she's faced with situations that threaten to rip her heart in two. Can she put aside her own desires to protect her loved ones?

When a former suitor shows up at the Manor, she's terrified. He treats her with respect, and she soon discovers the pain he carries.

While this was Julie's debut novel, I missed it. Now, I fully appreciate her talent. Anyone who writes such a stunning first book has a bright future in publishing. Her thorough research, engaging characters, and amazing ending made this a memorable reading experience.

Julie Klassen = automatic purchase for me. Don't miss this author's work.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Give Me A Breather

A few weeks ago, I announced a scheduling change. I'm now blogging twice a week, Monday and Friday, instead of three times a week.

While I enjoy visiting blogs, the numbers are mind boggling. There's no way I can go to a blog every day and comment. I appreciate bloggers, who give me a breather by their sensitivity to my time constraints.

Shorter posts also endear me to a blogger. I can't stay on a blog for 20 minutes. There are exceptions to this rule. For example:

1) An author interview. Still, we can ease the suffocation by breaking up a long interview into two or three parts.

2) An award post that includes fun questions. While it's tempting to write a mini-autobiography, I make a conscious effort to keep my answers short and snappy.

3) A guest post. When arranging guest posts, I always give a word count requirement. I don't want readers to walk away because they're overwhelmed by the length of a piece. I will stretch to 500 words, but that's it. If the topic requires greater exploration, I'll split it into two parts.

Bloggers: What are some of the guidelines you use to keep your blog reader friendly?

Readers of Blogs: What sends you over the edge with reading blogs? The length? Topics that don't resonate with you? Please share.

Photo credit: sxeyetisxe

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Winner of Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing

Congratulations to:

                                           RHONDA SCHROCK!

Please send me your snail mail address, and I'll forward it to Paula Rose Michelson.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Unleash the Power of Deep Point of View - Guest Post by Jill Elizabeth Nelson

Let's welcome Jill Elizabeth Nelson to Christian Writer/Reader Connection. I've read her book on Deep POV, and it's helped me understand the "how" of showing and not telling. Take it away, Jill!

Deep Point of View is a powerhouse technique writers may deploy from their arsenal of skills in order to craft a story that will captivate readers.

Following is a vital term that I use extensively in Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View, my handbook on the craft of Deep POV. 

Narrative Distance

Writers create narrative distance when they consciously or unconsciously insert an invisible narrator between the Point of View Character (POVC) and the reader. In the complete handbook, I share many examples of how we create narrative distance and how we can eliminate it in order to achieve Deep POV.

The technique helps readers to feel like there is nothing between them and what is happening to the POVC. In Deep POV, we don't want thoughts or actions told or explained by a third party; we want to live the events inside the POVC's head. The narrative should read like the thoughts going through the character's mind but without the need to italicize as in direct thought quotations.

Following are a few examples that demonstrate what a sentence might look like with that annoying, invisible narrator buzzing in the reader’s ear and then with the narrator eliminated.

With the narrator:  She wished she could whisk back in time and redo the last few minutes.
Without the narrator:  Too bad life didn’t come with an undo button like a computer.

With the narrator:  He had to think hard about what to do next.
Without the narrator:  What should he do next?

With the narrator:   Jason’s scowl caused Meg to sigh on the inside.
Without the narrator:  If Jason’s scowl turned any blacker, lightning would strike her dead. A silent sigh left Meg’s lips.

In this post, I have lightly covered a single aspect of writing in Deep POV. We haven’t touched on the thought tells, prepositional tells, or sensory tells that Deep POV will eliminate. One of the most stellar effects of Deep POV on a writer’s narrative is the virtual elimination of show/don’t tell issues!

These topics and more are covered in-depth, complete with examples and hands-on exercises in my handbook, Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View. Available as a Kindle download or in paperback at

Author BIO:
Award-winning author and writing teacher, Jill Elizabeth Nelson, writes what she likes to read—tales of adventure seasoned with romance, humor, and faith. She delights to bring the “Ahah! Moment” to students as they make skills their own. She and her husband of over 30 years have raised four children in the rural Midwest, and they are currently enjoying a growing brood of grandchildren. Visit Jill on the web at

Writers: What tips do you have on showing/not telling? Do you find this skill difficult?


Monday, July 9, 2012

Author Interview & Giveaway - Paula Rose Michelson - Part 2

Today, we continue with Part 2 of our interview with Paula Rose Michelson, author of Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing. The giveaway details are below.

4) Please give our readers a short summary of Casa de Naomi: the House of Blessing. 

Fifteen-year-old Naomi wants to practice her faith in public, find her uncle, and help him raise money to bring their family to America. She signs on as a companion to a blind woman, whose family plans to tour Europe and settle in the United States. Her plans are thwarted when the woman dies aboard ship, and Naomi is handed over to Immigration.

While waiting for her interview, an old Tia (auntie) comes to her rescue and offers to take her in. With nowhere to go and no one to turn to, Naomi accepts the arrangement and unwittingly enters the country illegally.

The book trailer can be viewed

5)  When does Book 2 release, and how can we get it? What other projects are on the horizon?

Book 2 will release in the spring of 2013. However, I hope to have the pre-release copies by December 2012. You can order your inscribed copies at my website.

6)  Finally, do you have any advice for those who view their writing as a calling from God?

This is a very important question and one I do not take lightly. As your readers have probably surmised by now, writing with the idea of being published, especially with my spelling and punctuation issues, was the last thing I would have wanted to do.

I'll ask your readers: "How do you know that God has called you? What has He asked you to write about and why?

I know these questions might sound odd. Yet after speaking with numerous people, I'm surprised many haven't a clue as to why or how God can use them. I've heard their frustration over harsh critiques and rejection letters.

Since I believe most who struggle with their calling have not asked these questions, let me share these are the questions God answered for me. His answers motivated and encouraged me so much that I began sharing my journey with my friends. Before I ever had a publisher, I was receiving calls from people I had never met that wanted to know if I'd like to hear their stories. Before the novel was published, 40 books had been sold.


1.  To be eligible, you must be a resident of the U.S. and a Follower of Christian Writer/Reader Connection.

2.  Leave a comment on this post with your email address.

3. Deadline: Saturday, 7/14/12, at midnight. The winner will be drawn on Sunday 7/15/12 and announced on the blog. They will also be notified via email. Once I have your snail mail address, I'll forward it to Paula. She will send you her book.

Disclaimer: I did not receive any remuneration from either the publisher or the author to do this interview.

Writers: Do you feel God called you to write? Please share.

Readers:  What was your favorite part of this interview?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Winner

The winner of Paula Rose Michelson's book, Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing is:

                                                          KAREN LANGE!

Congratulations! I've notified you by email. Please send me your snail mail address, and I'll forward it to Paula.

If you didn't win, take heart. Part 2 of Paula's interview will run this week, and she's having a drawing for another copy of her book!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Round-Up - #212

I discovered a writing website called, "Writing on The Fine Line," which is the virtual home of Michael Ehret. In this piece he gives 10 Tips to Clean Up Your Writing.

Writers: Which tip made an impression on you?

Readers: Do you see some practical application for areas of your life?

Have a blessed weekend!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Author Interview & Giveaway - Paula Rose Michelson - Part 1

Paula Rose Michelson and I "met" when I won her book on Dorothy Adamek's blog, Ink Dots. We've since corresponded about her work and the challenges of writing.

She's offered to do a GIVEAWAY of Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing. Check out the details below.

1) Welcome, Paula! What was the inspiration for your series, "Casa de Naomi?"

A friend kept asking me if I was pursuing my craft. When I discovered she was a publisher, I set up a meeting. We discussed my idea for a book about 3 women, who meet while hiking the Appalachian Trail, and how the believing one's faith affects the others.

Knowing very little about the Sephardic (Spanish) Jews that had to be baptized into the Catholic faith to survive during the Inquisition, I had to research Naomi's background. After several weeks, the publisher contacted me to find out why I hadn't sent her an outline. When she heard I was writing a character sketch for Naomi, she requested I send her my notes.

She emailed me, and said I'd begun writing a book. When I told her she was mistaken, she suggested I go back three days and read the emails I'd sent her. She was right! A few days later, the characters began speaking to me, and I kept writing until they were done talking.

While I kept Naomi, I did not go with the original idea of 3 women on the Appalachian Trail. I'll share more about the book later.

2) What is the overall message of the books?

The book grew out of my work as founder and head of LAMB Ministries, which uses Scripture and prayer to heal the wounds of women abused in childhood. It was my desire to help others view their issues through Naomi, a teenager living a fearful existence because she was taught that who she is and what she believes could lead to her death.

I've set up a blog called, The Casa de Naomi Reflections blog, where I post weekly. I encourage readers to think about Naomi's issues and look at Scriptural choices without preaching. To find out more about LAMB Ministries and begin your healing, visit my website.

Book 1 in the series ends without a resolution to worldly issues. I believe the reader will take away that although people think they know us, they only know what we choose to show them. When thinking of Naomi's difficulties, we discover that no imagined issues are worth subjugating ourselves and all we can become. The key to freedom is: owning who we are and claiming all that Messiah did for us.

3. Could you share how you researched before writing?

My initial research into the Spanish and Mexican Inquisitions made me curious. I interviewed several women from the Sephardic population and included pertinent historical notes at the beginning of each book.

We'll continue our interview with Paula on Monday, 7/9/12.

Giveaway Details:
1) You must be a Follower of Christian Writer/Reader Connection and a resident of the U.S.
2) To enter, comment on this post. Please leave your email address, so I can reach you
3) Deadline: Saturday, 7/7/12, at midnight. The winner will be announced on the blog and notified by email. When I receive your snail mail address, I will forward it to Paula. She will send you the book.

Disclaimer: I did not receive any remuneration for this interview or giveaway.

Writers: Have any of your ideas sprung from actual historical events? Please share.
Readers: How much historical detail do you like in a book: just the flavor or served up in gourmet fashion?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Winner of Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing

Congratulations to:                               DENA NETHERTON!

You've won Paula Rose Michelson's book, Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing. Please send me your snail mail address, and I'll forward it to Paula. I've also sent you an email notification.

If you didn't win, you still have two more opportunities if you comment on Part 1 and Part 2 of my interview with Paula. Part 1 will be on the blog Monday.