Wednesday, July 30, 2014

On My Nightstand - Life Support by Candace Calvert

Please Note: The above link does not work in this post.

Nurse Lauren Barclay spends her entire life running interference for her wild-child sister, Jessica. She returns to Houston after a brief hiatus in Austin because of her sister's escalating problems.

Physician's Assistant and single dad to cute Emma, Elijah Landry is at odds with his father. The threat of a restraining order does nothing to stop his vigilant care for his disabled older brother.

Mounting family tensions and a hurricane make any chance of a relationship seem like an impossibility.

As in real life, Candace shows how people's actions reflect their past and can entrap them. There are no pat, easy answers in this book. Each character struggles through their conflicts in real time.

In my opinion, the storyline and characters all rate 5 stars. I loved the sweet father/daughter duo and their Newfoundland dog, Shrek. Even the characters offstage add color to this intriguing story.

Disclaimer:  I won this book in a blog contest. I was not paid or asked to give a favorable review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Cheat Sheet or Quick Reference Guide? Part I

Before the Internet, high school students would sometimes pick up notes that gave a summary of a book. Instead of reading for hours, they would base their report on the facts in these brief, but thorough, evaluations. Teachers hated them and could usually spot when a student used a "cheat sheet."

There's a saying that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. (Author unknown to me.) The problem with getting by on as little as possible becomes apparent when we hit a snag.

A lot of writers learn the buzz words and just enough to get by. They may even score publication. What happens though when the problems they face go beyond their "cheat sheet?"

It's important to learn as much as we can about our chosen profession. When we understand the underlying principles, we can find solutions to the inevitable roadblocks we encounter in our works in progress.

Writers:  Please share what steps you take to increase your knowledge?

Readers:  In your chosen profession, how do you improve your skills?

Photo Credit:  bredmaker

Friday, July 25, 2014

Blog Hopping Friday

1.  Cathy Gohlke shares the research challenges she encountered while writing her latest historical novel, Saving Amelie. A Christy-award winning author, her words of wisdom gave me much to consider.

2.  Pamela Christian tackles a subject many find difficult: God Is Not to Blame for Evil. I've included this thought-provoking post because she presents a powerful case.

3.  Lori Hatcher guest posts on The Write Conversation. A devotional writer, she talks about Pray and Work, A Writer's Two-Fold Mandate. I think you'll appreciate this inspirational piece.

Writers:  How do you get into a character's head when they lived in a different time period?

Readers:  What do you think of Pam's post, God Is Not to Blame for Evil? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Photo Credit:  maplerose

Monday, July 21, 2014

Pay Attention!

I've always had a fascination with those guards, who stand at attention. Tourists snapping pictures, kids trying to make them laugh or respond to questions - nothing distracts them. We can learn a thing or two from these dedicated sentries.

1.  Focus - They have a job to do, and they do it without making excuses. Can you imagine one of them going to his commander and complaining that he can't stand still that long?

We writers grumble way too much. I'm too tired to write. I can't think of anything. This is too hard. Yes, emergencies happen, but a daily occurrence? I don't think so.

2.  Training - These guards are prepared for their task. They go through rigorous training, so they'll know what to do in the event they're called upon to defend their post.

Are we willing to put in the time and effort to learn our craft? Do we give our best effort when it comes to the work we produce?

3.  Professional - They take their assignment seriously. It's an honor, and they treat it as such.

Do those of us who get writing assignments - no matter how small or how big - realize the privilege we've been given? There are plenty of others, who would jump at the opportunity to write for publication.

Writers and Readers: Please share your thoughts on the privilege we've been given in our writing or other profession? How long did it take you to achieve your goals?

Photo Credit: lumix2004

Friday, July 18, 2014

Diving into the Internet

Water sports are popular this time of the year, but this girl restricts her diving to the Internet. Here are some of the things I've discovered:

1.  For those of you who've never been to The Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference, you're missing a great experience. Director Marlene Bagnull not only brings in topnotch faculty, but also encourages conferees in their spiritual walk.

I've been attending for the last nine years. I've met my agent and many others, who've impacted my writing life. The workshops enabled me to polish my debut novel, which ultimately led to a contract.

The conference runs from July 30 - August 2.

2.  Do you write for yourself or write with others in mind? Bruce Brady guest posts at The Write Conversation and shows how we can increase our audience.

3.  Marja Meijers, at Fresh Insights on Ancient Truths, talks about life on the couch.

Writers and Readers: When you write/blog, how do you keep your audience in mind? Praying for them? Thinking about what will spark their imagination?

What steps do you take to keep from living on automatic pilot?

Have a blessed week!

Photo Credit:  Phutureuk

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Non-Techy Tip

I learned to type on a manual typewriter starting in 7th grade. Yeah, I'm THAT old. The transition from the manual to electric typewriter fueled my fears. After all, others told me if you held a key down too long, you'd get a whole line of zzz's on the paper.

You can imagine my consternation at the advent of the computer age. My first introduction to this new addition left me totally befuddled. Back then, what you typed on the screen wasn't always what you'd get.

Fast forward to the present. The Internet presents its own challenges to the non-techy person. My eyes still glaze over when someone gets too detailed. Give me a simple cheat sheet, please. Ah, but I've found ways to adapt. Here's a tip that might even help the techies out there:

Do you want to post on Facebook groups, but don't want to/are mystified by/too cheap to use those fancy scheduling programs? Manually posting is a daunting task, but I've got a secret. Shh, I'll tell you, but keep it between us.

Type several posts in Word, and save the document. Minimize the document in your browser, and open a group. Pull up the Word document, copy the post you want to insert in the group, and again minimize the document. *Paste the copied item into the group, and hit "post."

Go to the next group and repeat from * above. As one of my blogging friends would say, "easy peasy."

Writers and Readers:  Do you have any non-techy computer tips? Please share. 

Photo Credit:  hoboton

Friday, July 11, 2014

Exploring the Net

1.  Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, gives the scoop on Links and how to use them effectively.

2.  Two weeks ago, I linked to Pauline Creedon's post on using blogs to promote e-books, Part 1. Here is Part 2.

3.  Wow, The Procrastiwriter nailed it for me today! I'm working on the first draft of my fourth book. Her comment about it being like an awkward teenager made me sit up and take notice.

While I love doing the first draft, I sometimes think, "this is awful," or "will this come together?" What's kept me going is past experience. It always works out if I'm diligent in the editing phase.

Writers and Readers:  Patience is an essential ingredient in writing and in life. Please share your thoughts on how patience brought you to a satisfying conclusion of a project.

Photo Credit:  mishie

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

On My Nightstand - Ashes in the Wind by Peggy Levesque

When Sara Jennings' DEA agent husband is killed, she becomes the next target. The Witness Protection program fails to safeguard her, and she returns to her old life. Another agent and good friend, James MacIntyre tries hard to keep her alive, but it's a continual battle.

I don't recall where I found this book, but I'm glad it found its way onto my Kindle. I'm a big fan of suspense with an element of romance. The author did a great job developing the characters, researching, and writing. This one is a winner!

Writers and Readers: Do you enjoy suspense with an element of romance? Please share your favorite author in this genre. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Call to Action

When crafting a business letter, we're taught to call people to action. What do you want the reader to do?  If we've written about a defective product, we might ask the company representative to:

A.  Refund our money.
B.  Send us a new product.

I'm amazed that so many authors will put information on their blogs and social media without including a call to action and a link to a sell page. Granted, there are times when we're not promoting. When we are doing a promotional post, make it easy for people to go to sell pages such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.

Here's the first paragraph I use on my promos:

The Moses Conspiracy - Only $2.99 on Kindle! Click on the link and check it out.

Note:  My publisher tells us to use the longer form on Facebook because it includes our book title and name. Readers know they are being directed to the correct page. It also picks up the graphic.

Between the call to action and the link, I'll insert something about the book like the current Amazon ranking, a 5-Star Review, or a short blurb.

Besides encouraging others to take action, they can do so with one convenient click--no googling, no getting another author by mistake, and no wasted time.

Writers and Readers: Do you click links on Facebook and other social media? Please share why you like checking out books, blogs or products this way.

Photo Credit:  Julosstock

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Birthday, America!

1.  Wikipedia gives information on The Star Spangled Banner, including the full lyrics. Here's Whitney Houston singing the National Anthem - awesome!

2.  Have you ever read the entire Declaration of Independence? Here's a copy with a list of the signers below it.

3.  Betsy Ross will forever go down in American History as the woman who made our first flag. Check out this article with its many fascinating details and links to further explore the subject.

May this great country return to her roots and live on for future generations. Happy Birthday, America! 

Writers and Readers:  What is your favorite patriotic song? Mine is God Bless America. I remember Kate Smith singing it when I was a little girl.

Photo Credit:  Linder6580

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Declaration of Independence Series

Welcome to Max Lewis, former Green Beret and now a lawyer. He's one of the contributing authors to The Declaration of Independence series:
Imagine how the signers of The Declaration of Independence feel while looking down from heaven and listening to their critics. The thought never occurred to me until my publisher asked me to write a fictional short story relating how John Hancock experienced the 4th of July. Before starting, I read Herbert S. Allan’s even-handed biography of Hancock. Yes, the founders were all human: Hancock was vain and a clothes horse, for example. But when you study the founding of America from the perspective of a founder, the greatness of these men staggers you.
“But they didn’t free the slaves and women and blacks couldn’t vote!”
Guess what? No one could meaningfully vote and everyone, everywhere, was in some form of bondage. The English themselves were “subjects.” Except for royalty and a small number of men in a handful of tiny Greek city states, no one had ever controlled their destiny.
Writing in the first person forces you to see things through the eyes of the character or historic figure, to imagine what they felt, wanted, and thought. The founders were operating on uncharted waters, laying the foundation to free all mankind and making things up as they went. They were doing it while at war with the most powerful Empire on the face of the planet. On January 1, 1776, George Washington discovered he had only 8,000 enlistments instead of the 20,000 planned. Georgia and South Carolina announced they would not sign if slavery were denounced, let alone outlawed.
As I imagine Hancock saying, “The hard truth is we will not free the Negro slaves . . . not because we don’t want to, but because we can’t. The southerners would revolt . . . freeing the black man will require a war and the forces of liberty are barely able to fight one war, let alone two.”
On July 4, 1776, the founders were almost to the man well-educated, affluent, and doing quite well as subjects of Britain. In the 18th century, traitors were hung from a gibbet with their hands tied behind their back. Rather than breaking their necks, the traitor took about ten minutes to strangle to death. Traitors’ property was forfeited, so their families were left impoverished. While the founders were signing their own death warrant, Benedict Arnold was trying to keep his army from disintegrating as he retreated from the disastrous Canadian campaign. "I have often thought how much happier I would have been," said Washington, "if, instead of accepting a command under such circumstances, I had taken up a musket on my shoulder and entered the ranks.”
They were great men; yet, consider the petulance with which they were treated. While reviewing “The Price they Paid” e-mail about the founders, the left wing site “Snopes” called it part true, part false. Why? Here’s an example: “Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.” Snopes - “yeah, well . . . she was already sick.” Seriously. I paraphrase, so check it out for yourselves. Part of the disdain appears to be petty racism, sexism, and anti-Christianity.  The founders were white male Christians, but there may be something deeper. Writing about an attack on the the framers, Professor Walter Williams wrote, “If I believed in conspiracies, I'd say (Time’s) article is part of a leftist agenda to undermine respect for the founding values of our nation.”
Hancock might have said, “No doubt, those who hate liberty and embrace hate amongst the races will use this against us not only now, but far into the future. We can only trust this and future generations will be wise enough to detect the charlatan, understand his aim, and reject his deception. That battle is for another time and will be fought by other men. We must fight the one in front of us now.”
"This is a column of opinion and satire" Max Lewis says then adds that he knows of no undisclosed facts. Contact Lewis, the author of John Hancock, in Remington Colt's Revolutionary War Series, and visit him at then click on Rimersburg Rules. © Joseph M. Lewis

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

On My Nightstand - Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke

Cathy Gohlke's book is a stark reminder of what happens when people are considered expendable. The story brings the Nazi regime to light through the eyes of the daughter of a eugenics researcher, an American journalist, and a deaf child. Her insights are chilling, and it's impossible not to compare the atrocities to what's occurring in our day and age.

From a writing standpoint, the research reflects Cathy's signature attention to detail. This book has it all: technical excellence, a compelling story, and a take-away for the reader.

A multi-published, 2-time Christy Award winning author, Cathy's books are an automatic buy for me. Don't miss this 5-Star novel!

Writers and Readers: What's on your nightstand? Please share.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Call to Prayer

When our forefathers issued The Declaration of Independence, they also called the nation to prayer. They knew that only God could turn the situation around in their favor as they fought the most powerful nation in the world at that time.

Ann Graham Lotz, Billy Graham's daughter, has issued an Urgent Call to Prayer for our nation. Please join with me in answering that call.

You can read the following article, which gives the details.