Wednesday, December 31, 2008

To Make a New Year's Resolution or Not

The approaching New Year brings up the age-old question: what are your New Year's Resolutions? The owner of my local gym sees a boost in memberships right after January 1st. Unfortunately, when the initial enthusiasm wanes, attendance cools off.

Last year, I didn't make any resolutions. Instead, I set some goals for my writing life. Here's my 2008 list:

1. Start a blog. (Yay! Here I am.)

2. Write and get some devotionals published. (A Secret Place and RevWriter Resource accepted a total of 3 devotionals between them.)

3. Get an agent. (Maybe next year.)

4. Finish editing my novel. (I did, but then discovered it needed more work. Back to the drawing board.)

5. Set up a website. (Does getting a domain name count?)

Hmm, what am I aiming for in 2009?

1. I'd like to get that website up and running. I've heard a lot of good things about Homestead.

2. Keep plugging away at my novel.

3. Improve my blog.

4. Write more devotionals. (I already have one scheduled for March.)

5. Clean and organize my office. (Trust me. You don't want a picture.)

What are some of your writing goals for 2009? Are you satisfied with the progress you made in 2008?

Thanks for making the launch of Christian Writer/Reader Connection such a delight.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Jane Austen Quiz

I am Marianne Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

Hat tip to my friend, Crystal, over at the Chat & Chew Cafe. All of you Jane Austen fans will love this one. Okay, okay, I'll have to read the book now. Maybe if I talk about it long enough, I'll actually buy the book.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Friday Round-up - #29

Since I'm writing this post before Christmas, I can't tell you about the day. As the song says, "The weather outside is frightful...," but I'm warm and cozy. The trees are glittering like ice sculptures, and the sidewalks look like an ice rink in need of several passes from a Zamboni.

I'll probably do an extra post after Christmas. At this point, we don't know whether or not the weather will cooperate for our trip. Our destination got hit with 12" of snow and white-out conditions today (12/19). This should be interesting.

With the New Year approaching and long winter nights settling around us, I thought some heart-warming links might be in order.

I discovered a website devoted to crafts for charity. They post all sorts of projects from simple items to more advanced ideas. Check out their blog. Be sure to scroll down the page to reach the latest post.

Heartmade Blessings is a not-for-profit, world-wide group of volunteers. They provide hand-crafted items to people suffering a loss, tragedy, or going through a rough time. It's a reminder that people care about them. People send in afghan squares, baby afghans or shawls, pins, cuddles, and other items.

Don't forget the snappy vocabulary game, which earns grains of rice for the poor around the world. Challenge your writer friends to top your score. What a worthwhile way to chill-out after finishing your writing quota.

Last, but not least, cuddle up with a mug of hot chocolate made from your very own homemade mix.

2 cups nonfat dry milk

1 cup cocoa powder

Artificial sweetener equal to 1/2 cup sugar

Combine all ingredients and mix well. To make hot cocoa, stir a quarter-cup mix into 1 cup boiling water. (Makes 12 cups of hot cocoa.)

Happy surfing. :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Present

In my last post, I talked about the past. What's Christmas like for us today? I thought I'd give you a peek.

Our current church doesn't have a service on Christmas day unless it falls on a Sunday. Since we're traveling to another state, we celebrate the birth of the Lord the previous Sunday and in our hearts.

The days of cooking big dinners have been surrendered to the younger generation. Mom and I trek up to New England early Christmas morning, praying for favorable weather and traffic conditions. For a number of years now, we've spent Christmas with our dear friends, who are like family to us. We've watched their youngsters grow up, get married, and start families of their own.

Once we arrive at our friends' house and unpack the car, we travel a short distance to their youngest son's house. What a delight it is to have little ones underfoot again, their eyes shining as we walk in laden with gifts. Final preparations are made, and both sides of their family sit down to a feast.

With our biological family so far away, I'm often reminded of the scripture that says God places the solitary in families. Mom and I are blessed beyond our wildest dreams to have so many people who love us.

May the Lord bless you as you celebrate his birth with your loved ones.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Past

A couple of weeks ago, several friends and I sat around and talked about Christmas traditions. I remember the frantic activity on Christmas Eve. We raced to clean the house, set the table, and do all the cooking. My grandma's specialty, red cabbage simmering on the stove, sent me into a frenzy. I fled outside to escape. How I hated that strong aroma! Adulthood transformed my tastes. I now look forward to red cabbage. LOL!

No matter what day Christmas fell on, it started with church. My family didn't own a car, so that meant a long trip via public transportation. Occasionally, someone would have compassion on us and pick us up for church. I bundled up to face the elements, casting a longing gaze at the presents under the tree.

When we arrived home, family and friends soon showed up at our door. "Now, Mom? Can we open presents now?" All the kids groaned when the usual answer dashed our hopes. We'd have to wait until after Christmas dinner.

Family members have long since moved out of state or departed for heaven. Christmas is now spent with friends. One thing remains stable, unshakeable: our focus on the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Traditions may change, but He's the same yesterday, today and forever!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Round-Up - #28

Yahoo! Christian Writer/Reader Connection has passed an important milestone. So far, we have 100 posts. As a member of My Book Therapy (Susan May Warren's group), I started a discussion called, "Blog Brain Freeze." I was petrified I'd run out of things to say. As I've prayed, God has been faithful to provide ideas and connect me with others in the blogosphere. Thank you for reading. I'm looking forward to a Happy Blogging New Year.

Mary DeMuth posted an excellent article on her, "So You Wanna Be Published," blog. I don't often see the basics of sentence structure addressed, so I jumped on this one. I hope you find it helpful.

Last Sunday, my pastor told a story about the small village of Wauconda, located in the Midwest. Back in 1989, an atheist challenged their 40-year tradition of commemorating Christmas with crosses on the town's two water towers. Mary Mangan (age 18) and Patrick Mangan (age 17) were so inspired by the story that they wrote a children's novel. Mary's cousin, Kevin Sullivan Mooney, provided the illustrations. Pop over to their website for more information.

Have a super weekend!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Author Interview: Linore Burkard

Let's give a warm Christian Writer/Reader Connection welcome to Author, Linore Burkard. Her novels center on "Inspirational Romance for the Jane Austen Soul." Before The Season Ends ,which released on December 1, 2008, is a blend of Christian faith and romance with well-researched details from the Regency period (1811-1820). Her second novel, The House in Grosvenor Square, is scheduled to release in April, 2009.

Linore resides in southwestern Ohio with her husband and five children. Her hobbies include working on four new Regency novels, family movie nights, and swimming.

1) Did you have a specific "what if" moment before writing, "Before The Season Ends?"

I suppose I did. The whole story started at what is becoming known as "the tree scene." So I guess my question was, "What would happen if a genteel young woman somehow got herself stuck in a tree? At a posh estate? And the estate owner, who also happens to be a formidable character and much sought-after bachelor, is the one who finds her? And he has a strong distaste for young, inexperienced women?" You can see how the plot just kept getting thicker!

2) Are you a plotter or a SOTP writer?

So far I have only started books without having any idea of how they would end, or what would happen in the middle. I guess that makes me a seat-of-the-pants writer. However, I did outline the sequel to, Before the Season Ends, and pretty much stuck to it. I started the outline after I had started the novel, but at least I'm learning to work with an outline, which I expect to keep doing until I'm really comfortable with it. The sequel is finished, by the way, and my editor said it was "riveting." So I'm thinking outline (ie, plotting) is the way to go!

3) I was fascinated by your knowledge of the Regency period. Can you share how you became so well versed about that timeframe?

Reading. I read a couple of Georgette Heyer books. (Even though I loved her writing, I really never sought out more of her books. If my library didn't have them, I didn't read them.) But I started researching. Once I knew I wanted to write that period, I started collecting books about it, and reading whatever I could find. Jane Austen books and movies also inspired me.

4) Can you give us a brief description of the storyline?

A young Christian girl is sent to London during the Season, and becomes unwittingly tangled in events with the Paragon, London's darling rogue. She finds herself in a classic dilemma between head vs. heart. She knows she can't marry the unbeliever, but eventually is backed against a wall, betrothed to the wrong man. Her faith plays a big part in how things end up, but she is in hot water for much of the book. The story brings the reader to Regency, London, and gives them the sense that God is truly involved in daily life, and that happy endings are possible for everyone.

5) Are any of your characters modeled after historical figures, composites of people you know, or do they spring solely from your imagination?

The Regent was, of course, an historical figure, and Beau Brummell, and Lord Alvanley. The rest of my characters are fictional.

If at least ten people comment, Linore has graciously offered to provide a free book for a drawing. Please leave your email address in the comments so I can contact you. If we get enough commenters, she will send the book directly to the winner.

Thanks, Linore, for a behind-the-scenes look at Before the Season Ends.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Mommy Smell

When Mom got ready for a special occasion, I watched her apply powder and lipstick. The entire ritual ranked right up there with dolls and tea parties. The sparkly red compact held loose powder like a rare jewel. Eventually, she changed brands, but I never forgot that scent. Years later, she purchased the original powder. She walked in the door, and this adult daughter was transported back in time. "The Mommy Smell," I said.

Does our writing evoke that kind of reaction? Our unique voice, style, and the way we view the world around us form an indelible imprint on our readers. The use of the five senses can paint a picture as effectively as an artist.

I recently read a book set in the Regency period (1811-1820). By the time I finished, it took quite a bit of restraint not to talk like the characters. The author planted me in the middle of the action with authentic details, scenes, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures. I'll always associate that time period with the author. By the way, I'll be doing an interview with Linore Burkard on Wednesday.

Have you experimented with using the senses to draw your reader into the story? Are you exploring not only the in-your-face ways of communicating, but also the subtle nuances?

"The Mommy Smell." I could pick my mother out of a crowd blindfolded. If all the identifying marks on your favorite author's book were removed, would you recognize the author by the writing? Interesting thought.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Round-Up - #27

Yippee! The December issue of Christian Fiction Online Magazine is a goldmine. Several people have done posts on book trailers, which seem to be all the rage. Ginger Garrett shares her experiences and gives helpful tips on producing a great trailer. Kelly Mortimer,of Mortimer Literary Agency, gives insight into what makes a book marketable. Enjoy these articles and many others, and you can't beat the price - Free!

The Seekers have a fabulous post on writing a query letter, include samples, and links. This is a two-parter, so be sure to catch both of them.

I found one observation particularly interesting. People are learning how to produce a dynamite query letter, but not paying as much attention to their novels. Hmm - a bit of cart before the horse here?

Dee Stewart, at The Master's Artist, gives 10 ways to promote your writing through the holidays. Check it out. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On My Nightstand - The Hunted by Mike Dellosso

Mike Dellosso scores a homerun with his debut novel, "The Hunted." While it is described as "Suspense," I'd use adjectives such as chilling, thriller, and heart-in-your-throat fiction.

The small town of Dark Hills, Pennsylvania finds itself stalked by what some folks describe as a lion. People are dying, and the local police are powerless to stop the carnage. When his young nephew is attacked, Joe Saunders, returns to support his sister-in-law as the child fights for his life. He finds himself unraveling a mystery and facing the ghosts of his own past.

Maggie Gill, the town's first female Police Chief and Joe's high school sweetheart, is both shocked and hopeful when he arrives. Her family secrets stand between the two former lovebirds, threatening to destroy the rekindled relationship and the town.

While gals like me enjoy suspense, The Hunted is also a great Christmas gift for your hubby, father, brother, or adult son. This is not chick-fiction by any stretch of the imagination. Think Frank Peretti caliber here. I'm looking forward to more great writing from Mike.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Kids and Reading

I'm an honorary auntie to six kids, ages nine months to seven years. On Thanksgiving Weekend, Mom and I got to spend some time with three of these delightful little people.

When we were at one house for dinner, nine-month-old baby girl dug one of her many books out of a wicker basket. She turned each page, perusing the animals. Her attention span was amazing for a baby.

The next day, My friend was babysitting two of her grandchildren. The three-year-old grandson has a play area in the back bedroom. I walked back there and found him "reading" a book, complete with a miniature flashlight. He gave me a big grin, and announced, "I reading."

These encounters inspired me to check out the children's section of my local Christian bookstore. Wow! I wish they'd had such fabulous offerings back when I was a youngster. Christian books for kids were few and far between.

I came out of the store with a book for each child. After seeing the wonder on their little faces, I have hope for the publishing industry even in tough economic times.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Winner!

This morning, I placed the two contest entries into a plastic shopping bag and asked Mom to draw a winner. TaDa! Congratulations to Jessica on winning Lynn Austin's book, "Hidden Places." Jessica, keep an eye out for my email.

Next year, we'll be having more great contests. Have a blessed day!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday Round-Up - #26

I can't believe Thanksgiving weekend is history, and Christmas is around the corner. My shopping is done, but wrapping gifts and writing cards are major tasks still ahead of me. Gift bags work great for my Mom, but little kids love ripping that paper. Since I usually write a small book for people we don't see on a regular basis, Christmas cards are quite a project. I tried the infamous Christmas letter, but people aren't too keen on a typewritten, to-whom-it-may-concern missive. I guess they like the personal touch. How about you? Do you send out lots of cards? Do you write a Christmas, "State of the Family Letter?"

Kathy Ide has an article over at Pixnpens. She handles some of those knotty dilemmas on pluralizing words.

Did anyone out there complete NaNoWriMo? Did you get a good first draft of a future best-selling novel? How challenging was it to write 50,000 words in 30 days? If you did, please share your experience with us.

Reminder: Today is your last chance to enter my No-Strings-Attached Book Drawing. See the Monday, December 1, 2008, post for details.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

On My Nightstand - Billy by William Paul McKay & Ken Abraham

I grew up watching Billy Graham on television, and later participated in one of his crusades as a counselor and choir member. How could anything new be written about this well-known evangelist? The story told from the perspective of his erstwhile friend-and-mentor-turned-atheist, Charles Templeton, proved too intriguing to pass up. I wasn't disappointed.

Hoping to save her job, an aging reporter accepts an assignment to interview Charles Templeton. Maybe she'd unearth some skeletons buried in the background of Billy's stellar life. Since Templeton never achieved the notoriety of Billy Graham, he might provide enough tantalizing details to formulate a scandalous story.

Suffering from Alzheimer's and facing death, Templeton jumps at the chance to stroll down Memory Lane. To the reporter's chagrin, he insists on giving details from the beginning of Billy's life to the present.

A picture comes into focus that contrasts the choices of the two men. Templeton's abandonment of God inflames Billy's doubts. Like a raging fever, they threaten his soul. His friend's passionate arguments against faith leave him bewildered and unable to answer the questions tormenting his mind.

The dramatic finale to this tale made me both weep and rejoice. The loss of another night's sleep didn't even register as I devoured the last half of the book.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The No-Strings-Attached Book Drawing

Now what can I do for my loyal blog readers? As Christmas draws near, I'm sure one gift they'd enjoy receiving is a book.

For this contest, there are no complicated rules, no html to cut and paste, no newsletter subscriptions required, and you can keep your firstborn child. Yep, this is a straight drawing, pure and simple, and an unadvertised special. If you don't show up, read the post, and comment, you miss the opportunity to win a copy of Lynn Austin's book, "Hidden Places," which I recently reviewed.

To participate in the drawing, all you need to do is comment and leave your email address using the special format to keep away those folks looking for your address.

So, come out of hiding all you lurkers and get in on the fun. The drawing will take place on Friday, December 5, 2008 and the winner announced on Sat., December 6th.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday Round-Up - #25

I hope all of you enjoyed Thanksgiving. Mom and I traveled to New England and spent the day with friends. Do you have any special Thanksgiving traditions?

The retail community looks forward to the day after Thanksgiving as the kick-off to the Christmas spending season. With the troubled economy, have you cut back this year? My friends and I decided not to exchange gifts. Instead, the focus is more on sharing the love of family and the true meaning of Christmas. Mom and I are exchanging, but are purchasing practical gifts.

I'm reading four books at the moment. The only problem is deciding which one to pick up at any given time, especially when they're all page-turners. LOL!

Woohoo! Watch for Monday's post. I've decided to do a, "No-Strings-Attached Book Drawing." It's my Christmas gift to you, my loyal readers. I will not be advertising this contest on other blogs, so you have a better chance of winning.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Give Thanks

Here in the U.S., we celebrate Thanksgiving Day tomorrow. The first Thanksgiving was a day for the early settlers to share a bountiful harvest with the Native Americans. The Puritans thanked God for food, which would get them through the long winter months. I thought it would be appropriate to share some of God's blessings and how He's taken care of me over the years. As we celebrate, I hope you'll take some time from the usual feasting on turkey and stuffing to express your gratitude.

I'm thankful I learned about Jesus at a young age. Even so, hearing about Him wasn't enough. Only when I invited Him into my life did I experience the reality of His presence. Knowing Him is far more than a religious belief or a set of rituals. As much as I love all those mentioned in this post, He is the only unchangeable, stable, and constant one in my life. He will never leave me nor forsake me.

Today is a bittersweet day for me. My beloved and I got married on November 26th, the day before Thanksgiving. I'm thankful to the Lord we met and married. David supported and encouraged me to spread my wings in many areas. I doubt I'd be published at all if it had not been for his gentle prodding.

I'm also thankful for my Mom. She's a woman of prayer and a faithful friend. There aren't enough words in the English language to express how precious she is to me. She and my Dad raised me in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

During the time of my husband's illness and my own physical challenges, the support of my family, The Body of Christ, and acquaintances left an indelible impression on my soul. They surrounded us with prayer, love, and practical assistance. It's only by the grace of God and their care that I'm still here and thriving.

Last, but not least, I'm grateful for all my dear writer friends. Some of you I've met, and others I'll meet when we get to Heaven. Thank you for your generous hearts and willingness to teach newbie writers. You have enriched my life more than you know.

May the Lord bless you as you share this special day with your family and friends.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

Jessica over at BookingIt tagged me. Below are the rules. Since all of you already know a ton of weird or interesting facts about me, I'm a bit hard pressed to come up with seven. I'll give it a shot.

1. Some of the first Christian novels I read were by authors Eugenia Price and Catherine Marshall. I loved the book, "Christy," and still have a copy on my bookshelf.

2. Don't throw anything at me, but I can't stand Jane Austen's books. They're not my taste at all.

3. I enjoyed Gone With the Wind, but found the end disappointing.

4. If I go into a Christian bookstore, 9 times out of 10, I'll purchase a book. Most times I'll buy more than 1 if I have a coupon. So, I try to avoid entering unless I'm prepared to make a purchase. Sigh. What can I tell you? I love to read.

5. My dream Christmas gift? A gift card to

6. I love taking pictures of special occasions. My only problem is it takes me forever to get the film developed. By the time I see the pictures, it's a huge surprise. Since Costco's processing is fairly inexpensive, I always get a double set of prints. This allows me to share them with the subjects.

7. Travel is another delight, especially in the U.S. This country is so beautiful. My late husband and I took a trip to Colorado back in 2004. The sites defy description. My favorite part of the trip was visiting Garden of the Gods. It's a park with stunning rock formations.

I won't tag anyone in particular. Feel free to jump on the bandwagon and have a little fun.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Round-Up - #24

My Internet travels over the past couple of weeks have yielded some helpful finds. Michael Hyatt, at Thomas Nelson blogged on, "Four Surprising Conclusions About Author Websites."

The Seekers had a stellar blogpost on how to add emotion to your writing. This is an article you'll want to save and refer to again and again.

It's rare that I find articles on devotional writing, which is something I enjoy. Larry Wilson guest posted on Mary DeMuth's, "Wanna Be Published," blog on the subject. For all of you interested in devotional writing, I think you'll find it worth your time.

Happy surfing!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Adventures in Time Management and Other Horror Stories - Part II

I'm one of those people, who likes to write in the morning. In fact, I like to do almost everything in the morning. The energy levels are high, nothing (usually) aches, and my brain is fairly high functioning. All this is well and good except for one thing. I work. If I'm not at my part-time job taking on extra hours, I'm dealing with my own small business.

When I arrive home, I can do email and read blogs, but it's hard to concentrate on writing The Great American Novel or anything else for that matter. How do I re-wire my energy/brain/body clock, so I can write something coherent after 7:00 P.M.? Is it impossible, or can I adapt?

What are my options? Get up at 4:00 A.M. and write for two hours. Possible, but my inner clock throws a total tantrum. It would also wipe out my Bible reading/prayer time, which happens between 6:30 A.M. and 8:00 A.M. If I want to really mess up my day, that's the way to do it. So, where do I cut and paste? What gets moved to a different timeframe or priority level?

The first adjustment I made was getting to sleep no later than 9:00 P.M. - 10:00 P.M. This lengthens my daytime, productive hours. If I'm sleep deprived, almost everything goes out the window. The second thing I'm tackling is the Procrastination Monster. Writing isn't even a possibility if I've put off other necessary tasks until the last minute. I'm still working on this one, folks. It's tough.

Like my devotions, I try to schedule my writing time. When I began spending a set time in the Word each day, it was hard. It takes 21 days to set a good habit (and about a second and a half to break it). The key is to get up when you give in to the, "I-just-want-to-veg-out-I'll-do-it-tomorrow syndrome," and start over. I'm applying the lessons I've learned in setting a devotional time to my writing endeavors.

I'm finding that once I sit down and begin writing, the time passes in a blink. It's that initial sitting down at the computer, turning it on, and starting the process that trips me up. My body is learning that whether or not I'm tired, I'm going to do this, and it may as well get with the program.

How about you? Do you have any experience with needing to re-adjust your normal, "I'm a morning - I'm a night person," preferences? How did you re-train yourself to function at a decent level?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Adventures in Time Management and Other Horror Stories - Part I

When I first started blogging, I'd write each post the night before it was due to publish. Although someone mentioned scheduling posts, yours truly had no clue how to accomplish this task. Net result: stress-out time.

A fellow-blogger put me out of my misery by teaching me the mysterious process of scheduling a post. For all of you scratching your heads, it's easy. When you're creating a post, there's a button on the bottom, left-hand side of the page that says, "Post Options." Click on it. Put in the date and time you want to publish, and hit the save draft button. Once you're satisfied with the post, hit the publish button. Don't worry, it won't publish until the date and time you've specified.

Another blogger mentioned she creates posts for two weeks at a time, schedules them, and she's done. This inspired me to block out a couple of hours each week. So, if I'm sick, I no longer have to drag myself to the computer or skip a post. If I'm on vacation, at a conference, or life gets crazy, no problem. My posts will publish automatically.

There is something satisfying about completing one or two weeks' worth of posts at a sitting. It's one less thing on my to-do list for the upcoming week. Then I can sit back and enjoy responding to reader comments. Ah, I can skip the chocolate tonight. Maybe I'll lose some of those pounds I put on and can't seem to shed.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Round-Up - #23

A hat-tip to C. J. Darlington for a post on Thomas Nelson's call for book reviewers. I visited the website, and signed up. I'm waiting for the review copy of a book called, "Billy." As you may have guessed, it's about a little-known incident in Billy Graham's life.

I finished Karen Kingsbury's last book in the Baxter Family Series, "Sunset." Without realizing it, I started the series late. (By the way, this is a fabulous series. I only missed the Redemption phase.) This has happened to me several times. Awhile back, I picked up a book by Beverly Lewis, only to discover it was the last book of a series. You'd think I'd learn, but I did the same thing with a B. J. Hoff series. Sigh. It's necessary to pay attention to those little numbers on the cover. A friend recently gave me a book, but I won't read it until I purchase the previous books in the series. Has this happened to you?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

On My Nightstand - Hidden Places by Lynn Austin

This Christy Award winning novel raises story questions from the get-go. Eliza Wyatt faces life as a widow with three youngsters. How will she handle Wyatt Orchards by herself? How will she pay off the mortgage? The depression era is in full swing. Even the orchard's fancy machinery won't bring in enough money. The odds against her are overwhelming.

Her husband's Aunt Betty and a filthy hobo become her unlikely support system. Jake shows his appreciation for a meal and shelter by helping her run the orchard. Yet, questions nag at her. Who is this stranger, and how did he learn the skills needed to run the farm?

Eliza's desire for family and home motivate her actions. Her past threatens to unravel the fabric of her life. Will she ever be able to trust anyone with her heart? Are Jake's motives pure or is he looking to take advantage of a woman in distress?

Through a series of difficulties, Eliza sees how God provides for every need. She learns to trust him rather than her own resourcefulness or those around her.

Lynn Austin's skillful storytelling had me glued to this book. The unusual plot, complex characters, and rich description blend into a satisfying story you won't want to miss.

Monday, November 10, 2008

An Ounce of Prevention

What's the quickest way to stress yourself out? In a word, "procrastinate." A long deadline, an unavoidable chore, bills needing payment can all trigger the, "I'll do it tomorrow," syndrome.

When I attended school, many classmates waited until the last possible minute to work on homework assignments. They were running a marathon as if it were a sprint. They begged faculty members for extensions and mercy.

My own habit of using the cramming study method resulted in end-of-semester panic. It finally dawned on me that starting the study process sooner might be good for my mental health. Staying on top of homework, assigned papers, and reading left me free to enjoy leisure activities. Higher grades were an added bonus. With more time and less last-minute rushing, I could formulate my thoughts and do a better job.

As writers, we're given deadlines. Missed deadlines means inconveniencing an editor and possibly an entire company. It could mean that story or book will never get published and reach someone going through a difficult time.

I don't think there's a person who hasn't put off a chore only to find themselves in a tight spot. Someone I know put off tasks on a regular basis, thinking they had plenty of time. The diagnosis of an illness left the person unable to get some critical things finished.

Not all procrastination has such dire consequences. Yet, it exposes an attitude of counting on tomorrow. We have today. There are no guarantees for the future. Being faithful, diligent, and trustworthy today honors God, honors our fellow man, and gives us peace in our daily lives.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday Round-Up - #22

While doing research for our local writers' group, I discovered a grammar website. This subject usually illicits groans from those of us, who turn green at the mere mention of passive verbs. While the site informed, it also provided a measure of enjoyment.

Instead of scanning the website for valuable information, I soon found myself taking all kinds of quizzes. Mulitple choice, crossword games, spelling tests complete with audio, and re-writing passive sentences turned into a fun session. On the spelling tests, a correct answer brought up an animated happy face. A wrong answer, showed a person rolling a stone up a hill.

Another grammar website for kids or for those who need a better grasp of the fundamentals, is Fun Brain. The animated characters were cute and encouraging.

So, if your prose is littered with misspelled words, adverbs, and too many adjectives, and your eyes glaze over when someone talks about verb tenses, maybe it's time for a refresher course. I'd be interested in your experiences with grammar faux pas.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

On My Nightstand - Love Letters to God: Deeper Intimacy Through Written Prayer by Lynn D. Morrissey

Crystal Laine Miller, over at the Chat & Chew Cafe, held a drawing for this book, and I won!

I half expected a pretty gift book with some poetic ramblings on the subject of journaling. Instead, I found the other side of the coin to my devotional Bible reading. Inspired by Lynn's experiences with prayer journaling, I put my own prayers in written form during my morning devotions. The results have been startling, exciting, and made me long for more prayer time.

The artwork by Katia Andreeva is soft and appealing, while Lynn chronicles her journey toward a deeper relationship with the Lord. Writing her prayers enabled her to see patterns, helped her sort out her emotions, and recognize God's hand in her life.

This is a beautiful gift book, especially for those struggling with their prayer life or yearning to bring their relationship with the Lord to a new level. This is another keeper for my bookshelf.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

It's here. Election Day. I've heard so many folks say they can't wait until it's over. They're tired of the debates, the issues, and the pressure.

As I journaled this morning, the thought came to me that this isn't the end, but rather the beginning. Just as the wedding day is not the culmination of a relationship, neither is an election. We're making a choice today that will affect us for generations to come. We're giving our stamp of approval on a course of action for the country. That's a heavy responsibility, folks.

As in all areas of life, God will hold us accountable for our decisions. Yes, He forgives when we repent, but those consequences have a nasty bite.

Please set aside the passions, the rhetoric, and look at the issues. Pray. And then, please vote.

Our Father, which art in Heaven

Hallowed be Thy name

Thy kingdom come

Thy will be done

In earth, as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread

And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil

For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever.


God can speak to our hearts, but we have a choice to obey or disobey. It is our hands that will cast the ballot.

Monday, November 3, 2008


A few weeks ago, InSpire awarded me the, I love this blog award. A big thank-you to her for this honor.

The rules for this award are as follows:

1) Add the logo of the award to your blog.

2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.

3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs.

4) Add links to those blogs on your blog.

5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs!

Since I love so many blogs, if you're not on this list, it's only because: A) You've already received this award or B) I wanted to leave a few for others to nominate.

Mary DeMuth at So You Want To Be Published

Rachelle Gardner at CBA Rants & Ramblings

Writers Rest

Gina Conroy at Writer...Interrupted

Christina Berry at Posting With Purpose

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio at The Write Power

Jessica Nelson at BookingIt

Sarah at Saraccino Blogiato

Whew! What tough decisions! I could have added at least ten more to this list. I hope you'll have fun passing this award along to your favorite blogs.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Postscript

A couple of news bites surfaced since I wrote the Friday Round-Up.

On the home front, the November 2008 issue of "The TopNotch Writer" is online. My article, "Who Moved the Finish Line?" appears in this issue. I hope you'll take a hop, skip, and a jump over there.

Many Christians are wrestling with this election. A friend sent me a link to Randy Alcorn's blog. He deals with some of these issues. Randy is a well-respected author and teacher in the Christian community and addresses questions and comments from his readers.

Friday Round-Up - #21

I received an email with information on how women won the right to vote. Many of these details are in the HBO movie, "Iron Jawed Angels."

You may know that women were granted the right to vote in 1920. However, did you know what it cost our grandmothers and great-grandmothers? On November 15, 1917, thirty-three women peacefully picketed the White House, asking for the vote. Instead, they were almost beaten to death.

Lucy Burns was beaten, her hands chained to the cell bars above her head, and left hanging all night. One woman thinking a friend had died, suffered a heart attack. This treatment did not last for one night, but continued for weeks. Finally, the press got wind of what was occurring.

So, my friends, when you're tempted to sit out an election, please think of these courageous women. When you're too tired, too wrapped up in your own life, or don't believe you can make a difference, think of your children's future.

Exercise your right to vote.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Since we're on the subject of voting, we all know Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 4th. How do I make my decision on who gets my vote?

The process I go through involves finding out as much as I can about each candidate's character, voting record, and position on various issues. I don't vote based on liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, race, or what other people tell me. Neither do I allow rhetoric, charisma, or slogans to sway my thinking.

I gather the facts from many sources, and then compare the two candidates. Since I am accountable to God for my actions (yes, even voting), I ask him who he wants me to select. How would I know the answer? By going to his Word, I can see what God considers good and what he considers evil. His Word reveals his will. It's up to me to come into line with his way of thinking and acting.

God does not come down and pull that lever. I have a responsibility to first of all participate in the process. My next responsibility is to vote in a way that is consistent with his precepts.

Yes, I will be voting on November 4th for the person I think will most closely reflect the values God cherishes. No candidate will perfectly match up to God's standards. Only Jesus accomplished that feat. However, he will be someone trustworthy, honorable, transparent about his life and associations, as well as someone who upholds the foundational document of our country - The Constitution.

I hope every Christian reading this message will take this election seriously and vote first and foremost as Christians.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

On My Nightstand - The Last Jihad by Joel Rosenberg

Hang onto your hats, folks. This book will take you for a ride you won't forget. Intrigue, spies, double-agents, and helicopters blowing up keep the action going non-stop. The anguish of leaders trying to anticipate the enemy's next move and making decisions affecting millions of people is palpable.

The characterization is rich, deep, and varied. A touch of romance lightens the mood as people somehow function in the midst of a chaotic world.

Almost as fascinating as the book is the story of how it was written. Mr. Rosenberg was penning his chapters as planes slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Yes, there is violence and ugliness in this book, but it also contains redemption, courage, and justice. Joel Rosenberg's other books are near the top of my to-be-read list.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Examining All Facets

At our writers' group on October 18th, we studied the intricacies of writing dialogue. During the discussion, we talked about authors, and how they handled dialogue and character development.

I brought up Mary DeMuth and Lisa Samson. Mary is expert at showing the inner motivations of her characters. Her dialogue is true to each one. Nine-year-old Maranatha sounds like a nine-year-old child. A villain is chilling without being a caricature.

Lisa bares the soul of her characters as they journey from hopelessness to joy. There are no pat or unrealistic answers. The struggles are authentic and often heart-wrenching.

As other books and authors were discussed and dissected (doesn't that sound like a biology experiment - ewww), I realized the richness of reading many authors and genres. Each one has a distinct storytelling style, voice, and talent.

While I'll always have my favorite authors, I'm determined to examine and enjoy the writing of as many writers as possible. Why be satisfied with one brilliant flash when other facets hold a variety of colors, experiences, and nuances that make up human beings?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Jury Duty

Yep, I got called for Jury Duty. I have to report bright and early tomorrow morning. Sooo, if I don't immediately respond to your comments, you'll know why.

Posts are ready to fly for this week and part of next week in case I get stuck on a case. I'll look forward to jumping in the conversation when I return.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Round-Up - #20

Have you ever attended a book signing? Last Saturday, Mom and I took a ride to Master's Mercantile, at 204 Shoemaker Rd., Pottstown, PA., (610) 705-0130. The bookstore employees greeted us and asked if we'd like to sign up for drawings, which would be held every half hour. They provided tasty snacks to enjoy during our visit. If you live in the Pottstown, PA area, stop in and explore their aisles.

Six authors from a variety of genres showed us their books, gave out free pens, bookmarks, and candy. When they heard I was also a writer, they gave me lots of tips, including a blogging lesson. I now know how to schedule a post for a later publication date. Yay! (Thanks Dionne.)

Meeting fellow blogger and friend, Mike Dellosso and his wife, Jen, was a treat. Mike writes suspense/thriller novels. His debut book is, "The Hunted." At thirty-five with a wife and three daughters, Mike discovered he had cancer. He's chronicled his journey at his blog. He looks great, but still needs our prayers.

Carrie Turansky is an inspirational romance writer. Multi-published, her titles include: "Wedded Bliss," "Along Came Love," and "Kiss the (Cook) Bride."

Gayle Roper is also multi-published and the author of The Amherst Mysteries. In addition, she writes non-fiction titles. Her latest release is, "A Woman and Her Emotions."

S. Dionne Moore has one book out entitled, "Murder On The Ol' Bunions," with "Polly Dent Loses Her Grip," scheduled for release by Barbour Publishing in April 2009. She's also the Tuesday contributor to the famous Novel Journey blog.

Cathy Gohlke is a Young Adult author and winner of the Christy Award for her book, "William Henry is a Fine Name." Her novel is set during the Civil War period. She also has a sequel on the bookshelves.

Terri L. Gillespie has a devotional book entitled, "Making Eye Contact With God: A Weekly Devotional for Women." Don't you love that title?

By the way, Mom won a book in the drawing. I purchased Mike's book, and received another book free of charge.

As usual, my book budget fell short of my Wish List. I've checked out all these websites and can't wait to order more books. Between shop talk with the authors and discussing books with store personnel, they "wowed" us with their graciousness. We went there to meet and be a blessing to these authors. Instead, they blessed us. I hope they sold a ton of books.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I'm not ignoring your comments, friends. Once again, technical difficulties need my attention. Blogger embedded a new comment form. Unfortunately, everyone is able to comment except me. It will not publish my comments, and declares there's an error on the page. Be assured, I read and enjoy each of your comments.

If anyone has any insight what's causing this glitch, I'd be grateful for your help.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

On My Nightstand - The Chocolate Connoisseur by Chloe Doutre-Roussel

I know all my blog readers can't wait for this review. While this is not a Christian book and I don't agree with the underlying philosophy, it gives insight into the world of chocolate. Never in my wildest imagination did I think chocolate's history involved so many twists and turns or such total obsession with the taste most of us enjoy.

According to, a connoisseur is, "a discerning judge in any field." The author certainly qualifies as a connoisseur. As chocolate buyer for the prestigious London store, "Fortnum and Mason," she travels the world in a quest for the best varieties. Indeed, she consumes a pound of chocolate per day. Talk about a dream job.

Some chocolate trivia:

Chocolate arrived in the American colonies in 1765. The first chocolate factory opened in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

Some of our favorites, like the Mars Bars and KitKat, were invented in the 1930's.

Most cocoa beans are grown in the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Equador, Madagascar, and Jamaica.

Whether you want to become a connoisseur, an expert in chocolate trivia, or swoon at the taste, you'll find everything you ever wanted to know about chocolate in this compact volume. This would be a great gift for a culinary student or someone involved in the food industry. It's available at Amazon.

I'm keeping this one on my bookshelf for future reference. Who knows? Maybe someday I'll write an international thriller about a plot to eliminate chocolate from the planet.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Baking Burnout

"Now, Susie, roll out the dough a little bit thinner so we get lots of cookies."

My grandma added more flour to the rolling pin and demonstrated her technique. Once the dough reached the appropriate thickness, I chose cookie cutters shaped like a star, a tree, an angel, and a gingerbread man, and cut them out. The smell of butter, sugar, vanilla, almond, and cookies baking in the oven tickled my nose and made my mouth water.

The tradition continued long after grandma died. Mom and I tried new recipes. The numbers grew from 100 to over 1,000 cookies each Christmas. Days were set aside for baking. Somewhere along the line, we forgot why we baked. The joy of working together and making a few special treats turned into an exhausting chore.

Yes, I had it: the dreaded BAKING BURNOUT. It took years before I'd even consider digging my cookie sheets, cutters, and rolling pin out of the cabinet where they'd gathered dust.

When publication becomes the driving force in our lives, the exhileration of writing can get lost in the shuffle. The time we spent writing a note to a sick friend, putting together a skit for the youth group, or encouraging someone going through a problem turns into a treadmill of write, re-write, and submit.

How do we maintain our creativity and joy while traveling toward publication? What's the secret ingredient? I went back to baking not as an obligation, but as an act of love. Seeing my family gobble up hunks of pumpkin pie or dunking homemade cookies in a tall glass of milk made a difference in my attitude. I slowed down, released the have-to-do-this thinking, and started remembering my purpose.

The same principle applies to writing. When we write as an act of worship to the Lord and love toward others, joy peeks around the corner and sits down next to our computer. Instead of being self-focused, our efforts are geared to bless. The striving, stress, and frustration give way to love, joy, and peace.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Round-Up - #19

Kaye Dacus has an excellent article on writing dialogue. Unlike real life, conversation is condensed to the important stuff. I could elaborate, but I'll let you read the article.

Thanks to Inspire for giving me the, "I Love This Blog Award." As soon as I can figure out how to get the logo on my blog, I'll pass the "love" along. (All of you know how technologically challenged I am by now!)

My friend, Crystal Laine Miller, has a cool blog called, "When I Was Just a Kid." She conducts in-depth interviews with authors, complete with pictures from their childhood. Book drawings are sometimes part of the features.

Chocolate. Okay, now that I have your attention, I'm reading a book on the subject. Last Saturday, I poked through an outlet bookstore and discovered this little gem. Down the road, I'll be doing a book review, and sharing some of the things I learned about our favorite food.

Let's add some words to those WIP's this weekend!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

On My Nightstand - The Living End by Lisa Samson

Rather than draw you into the story, Lisa Samson's characters jump off the page and come live in your house. They sit at your table, have a cup of coffee, and allow you into their hearts.

Pearly Laurel's whole life revolved around her husband for thirty-two years. When he suddenly dies, she cannot cope. Her beloved's list of "Things To Do Before I Die" provides a temporary reason to live. The reader is entranced as Pearly discovers new friends, and nurtures old, but neglected, relationships. Yet, will it be enough to restore her will to live?

In my book, Lisa Samson's name on a cover means I'm in for a great reading experience. Way to go, Lisa!

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's ONLY Fiction - Defining, Discussing & Setting a Personal Standard - Part V

When discussing a book, I've often heard people say, "What's the big deal? After all, it's ONLY fiction." At times, I've said the same thing. Hmm, this assumes fiction is meaningless and has no impact on the way we think, see our world, or live. Is this true?

Alice in Wonderland was a political statement written in fictional form. Charles Dickens' works pointed out the evils of his day without confronting the establishment. Uncle Tom's Cabin decried slavery and fueled the anti-slavery movement. Only fiction?

Christian authors freely admit to promoting a relationship with the Lord, family values, and handling problems in a way pleasing to God. Only fiction?

When a book comes along undermining and questioning Biblical truth, perhaps it's prudent to guard our hearts. Is he or she acting like the serpent in the Garden questioning God's motives. Is the author planting seeds of destruction in our minds? Only fiction?

Food for thought: How has Christian fiction impacted your life? Are there books in the ABA, which have had a negative effect on you or someone you know?

Friday, October 10, 2008


I'm sure many of you are confused. My posting schedule is Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Unfortunately, Blogger is using the date created instead of the date published on my posts.

Does anyone out there know how to remedy this situation? It's easier for me to write posts the night before and publish them in the morning. How do I get Blogger to use the date published?


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Friday Round-Up - #18

Did your childhood reading include Nancy Drew or Cherry Ames books? If these characters inspire nostalgia, check out The Vermont Country Store. Another place to find older books are antique stores, flea markets, and used book stores.

I discovered a fun item over at InSpire's blog - a book purse. Yup, it's a purse crafted from an old or unwanted book. The ready-made versions are pricey at $155.00, but one link brings you to a site with directions. Wouldn't it be cool to make a purse out of someone's favorite book and then put the real deal inside?

Christian Fiction Online Magazine's October issue is now available. Randy Ingermanson is his usual funny self, asking advice from Sam, the Plumber. Brandilyn Collins, Susan May Warren, Mary DeMuth, and others serve up delicious writing meals. To further whet your appetite, the magazine has a contest for a box of books.

Enjoy the weekend!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Defining, Discussing, and Setting a Personal Standard - Part IV

I'd like to touch on an area I haven't heard discussed in Christian writer/reader circles. How is the subject of the occult being handled in Christian fiction?

Recently, I purchased a highly-acclaimed Christian book. I'd heard many good things about this author's work. The writing drew me in immediately, promising a suspenseful tale. As I read, I became increasingly uncomfortable. An occult practice was the centerpiece of the story. I brushed off my misgivings, rationalizing the writer would somehow discredit this and bring out the truth. While a mild attempt was made toward the end, it left the impression this practice eventually drew the characters to faith in God.

My purpose is not to give a negative review of a particular book, nor will I name the book. In an effort to write a heart-stopping thriller, have some authors ignored the Biblical command to avoid all occult contact? I've read many books where such involvement was present, but clearly shown as a counterfeit of God's gifts. When that line is blurred in any way, we're on dangerous territory.

From now on, I'll no longer reason away those alarm bells that something is amiss. I don't care if a book is labeled Christian fiction. If it gets into an area of condoning or promoting the occult, that author has lost me as a reader forever.

Have any of you run into this problem? Our final installment of this series will cover a phrase I hear repeatedly and have actually used on occasion myself: "It's Only Fiction."

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Defining, Discussing, and Setting a Personal Standard - Part III

Several years ago, I attended a Christian Conference. A friend and I were directed downstairs when we asked where we could powder our noses. What a sight to behold! We entered a world of Trekkies. Yup, these folks were in full costume.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy places like Disney World with people dressed like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and the rest. I also know this is fantasy and not real life. For me, the problem comes when people get wrapped up in a make-believe existence and allow it to damage their relationships.

Fantasy and Sci-Fi can be a lot of fun as long as we keep it in that realm. I've watched my share of Star Trek, Disney, and similar programs. In recent years, my interest in this genre has waned.

What's your take on the whole fantasy, Sci-Fi area? Love it, hate it, don't care? I'm interested in your opinions.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Friday Round-Up - #17

Yippee! My copies of The Secret Place devotional arrived on Tuesday. The thrill of seeing my work in print never gets old. I've said it before: the small victories keep me moving forward on the larger projects.

I heard from Churchmouse Publications. They didn't think my submission was a good fit for their company. I might send them a devotional or two and see if there's any interest. Rejection is a painful part of the writing life. Yet, if writers don't take risks, they never get published.

James Stuart Bell is calling for submissions. He's doing an anthology for Howard Publishing, a division of Simon & Schuster. For more information, email Jeannette Littleton at

In case you missed my post on Wednesday, congratulations to the winners of the free book contest: Amy L., Sarah H., and Rose M. Down the road, we'll be doing more drawings.

My friend, Dr. Mary Ann Diorio, has a new blog: Check out her latest newsletter at

Let's rack up some words on our writing projects this weekend.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Defining, Discussing, and Setting a Personal Standard - Part II

Defining Christian speculative fiction is a bit more difficult than nailing down the meaning of other genres. From what I've read, it includes books containing angels and demons.

Books like Frank Peretti's, "This Present Darkness," and "Piercing the Darkness" fall into this category. I assume Kathryn Mackel's, "Hidden," would also fit this definition. The powers that be in CBA reason: 1) Angels and demons are real. 2)We don't know how they operate. 3)Therefore, the book is speculative.

What about books based on Biblical stories that contain scenarios not found in the scripture? Are these considered Christian speculative fiction?

Since I lived in New England for over 20 years, I'm aware of the spiritual warfare needed to survive in that area. Frank Peretti's books do not freak me out. While everything may not be 100% accurate, there's a lot of Biblical support for the spiritual battles taking place. Think about the story of Daniel praying, and the glimpse God gives us of the battle between angels and demonic princes.

What other books are considered Christian speculative fiction and why?

The Winners

And...the winners are:

Sarah H.

Amy L.

Rose M.

Congratulations! Please email me with your snail mail address. I'll ship out your book ASAP! My email address is: susanjreinhardt (at) gmail (dot) com.

Thanks for subscribing to Christina and Sherrie's newsletter. We hope you enjoy your prize.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Defining, Discussing, and Setting a Personal Standard - Part I

Every now and then, I see blog posts and discussions about "edgy" Christian fiction, speculative Christian fiction, and fantasy. I'd like to explore some of these terms, share my opinions, and open a discussion.

What is "edgy" Christian fiction? I've deduced it's being able to show this dark world in a realistic way. Villains are multi-faceted. Characters have substance abuse, sexual, and criminal issues. The "edgy" Christian fiction I've read expressed these behaviors without spelling out every detail. People are smart enough to figure out what's happening without seeing everything in technicolor.

Back when they allowed the first mild epithet to pass the lips of an actor, some hailed it as a step toward better movies. This small crack in the dam opened the general public to a flood of profanity, obscenity, and gratuitous violence, which is virtually impossible to stop. Why would we, as Christians, want to lower the standards God has set in His Word by following the world's example?

This week, I read an article about actor, Kirk Cameron. He's determined he will not kiss any woman other than his wife. When a scene called for a kiss with his leading lady, they brought in his wife as her double. I admire him for sticking to his convictions.

As a Christian writer, my first allegiance is to the Lord. I want my writing to impact readers in a way that will draw them to Him and not appeal to the base elements of human nature. When I was growing up, there was a saying: "If you have to use bad language, you do not have a good vocabulary." With an abundance of acceptable words at our disposal, let's use them and not resort to gutter talk in any form.

What are your opinions on this subject? How do you handle characters with rough edges?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Friday Round-Up - #16

For those of you interested in writing for a living, Kathryn Lang shared some great ways to get started, as well as links to other websites.

Publicity expert, Paul Hartunian, has a new site with free tips. This is the guy, who actually sold pieces of the Brooklyn Bridge.

If you haven't already entered the contest for a free book (3 winners), the September 30, 2008 deadline is rolling around fast.

Earlier this week, I sent a query to a publishing syndicate. Instead of stashing published articles in a file drawer, I figured it's about time I look into selling reprints. This evening, I received an email with the go-ahead to submit. I should receive an answer within 2 weeks whether or not they're interested. Pretty cool, huh?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

On My Nightstand - Song of the Silent Harp by B. J. Hoff

B. J. Hoff transports the reader to Ireland during the mid-1800's Potato Famine. We huddle with the Kavanaugh family next to a fireplace, listening as death slips through the door. Heartless landlords hasten the grim reaper's progress through the small town. The only hope they have is embodied in Morgan Fitzgerald, whose wild ways and political activities keep him teetering on the edge of disaster.

The tale was riveting, the tension almost unbearable, and the hope for a happy outcome so strong I couldn't put the book down. If you enjoy historical fiction, Song of The Silent Harp is your cup of tea.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Lean, Mean, Writing Machine

Awhile back, I purchased a container of Brownie Bites. What harm could an occasional brownie do? The quantity consumed escalated from 1 to 2. Then it doubled to 4 of the delectable morsels per day.

A doctor appointment put an end to this madness. When I started removing my bracelet, watch, and earrings to shave off a few ounces, I knew I was in trouble. The sweet treats, combined with a lack of exercise after surgery, packed an additional ten pounds on my frame.

When I arrived home, I checked the number of calories in each brownie bite. 160 calories X 4 per day X 7 days per week = 4,480 calories per week. I didn't have the courage to calculate beyond a week. I'd have to fast more than 2 days to compensate for that many extra calories. Bye, bye brownies.

Chunky, non-productive words add weight to a novel, devotional, or article. I have difficulty paring down the number of words in a piece. When a devotional assignment insists on 150-250 words, I gulp and pray...a lot. The admonition to write tight keeps ringing in my ears.

In their Nangie 101 workshop, Angela Hunt and Nancy Rue talk about getting rid of "weasel words." Words like, "really, just, and actually" are a few words they highlighted. They suggest doing a search and replace command. Sigh. I love those words, and use them when I talk.

Now, I'm not only shedding pounds, but also words that fail to move the story forward. Hmm, I wonder how many words editors will cut from my 96,000-word novel. I sure hope there are enough left to stay in the 80,000-100,000 word range.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Round-Up - #15

I received an email from Tekeme Studios directing me to their blog. They've announced the winners of their Authentic Parenting Contest (Mary DeMuth). Unfortunately, none of us won. The good news is they're giving a discount on a blog or website design. In order to take advantage of the offer, you must contact them within 7 days.

A prayer request touched my heart. Please pray for Cindy and Gary Hogan. A short time ago, doctors diagnosed her with Stage 4 cervical cancer. They have a 5-year-old son, Michael. Gary is serving our country in Iraq. This family is in crisis, and they're asking Christians to stand with them in prayer for Cindy's healing. Thanks.

Thanks to my friend, Jessica, for pointing me to The Seekers blog.

It's chilly this morning. As I shrugged into my sweater, I thought of all our friends at the AFCW Conference in Minneapolis. If it's cold here, I can imagine what the temperature is in that northern state. I hope they packed some warm clothes and a jacket.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What Do Painting & Writing Have In Common?

I'm not talking about the Mona Lisa here. No, I'm thinking in terms of rooms, specifically ceilings. After a contractor replaced a water-damaged ceiling in one of my bedrooms, it needed painting. So, yours truly purchased the supplies, and rolled up her sleeves. In the process, I learned a few things about painting and writing.

1. Don't stand directly under the paint roller. Doing so will result in painter becoming the paintee. By the time I finished, I resembled Spot in the old Dick and Jane first grade textbook.

When writing my draft, I got too close to my novel and lost objectivity. The manuscript became all wrapped up with my identity. When critique and editing began, it tore at my very being. Now, I try to hold my writing separate from who I am as a person. No more confusion between writer and work.

Keep paint on ceiling and book on page.

2. Prime a new ceiling before painting. I didn't do this. The ceiling soaked up paint like a thirsty camel. Instead of a quick primer coat and one paint coat, it took two heavy paint coats and two days of hard work to get the job done.

I'm a seat-of-the-pants writer. No matter how I try to outline or fully structure a book before writing, it doesn't work for me. Yet, even though I don't use a formal process, I do mull things over in my mind and do research for background, setting, and characters. Otherwise the first draft takes forever.

Prepare that ceiling and prepare before diving into the writing waters. 3. Visit the chiropractor AFTER painting the ceiling, not before. This one I got right. Two days of painting left me one hurting puppy. Any benefit from a previous adjustment would have been undone by this activity and required a second appointment.

I'm thankful I didn't seek out a professional editor for my first draft. I wrote and re-wrote until it was in decent shape. Friends and my writers' group pointed out some problems. I learned from workshops and craft books.

Ah yes, save the chiropractor and the editor for when you really need them.

Have you learned any writing lessons the hard way? I'd love to hear about it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Seven Random Facts About Me

Author Robin Hatcher posted a meme on her blog and challenged others to participate in the fun. So...for what it's worth, here goes:

1. As a kid, I suffered through piano and voice lessons for a year. Today, I can play an impressive arpeggio, a sad version of chopsticks, and possibly Old MacDonald Had A Farm. I say, "possibly," because I'd need the music, and I'm not sure I remember how to read it. The upside to this experience: I learned this is not what I was cut out to do.

2. When Billy Graham came to New York City in the 60's, my mother and I signed up as counselors and joined the choir. (Put me in a BIG group, and I can pull off the singing thing.) Cliff Barrows astonished us with his ability to teach several hundred strangers harmonies in record time. My choir pin still resides in my jewelry box.

3. Doll collecting is a passion, which carried over from childhood. Penny Playpal, Shirley Temple, and Toodles have traveled with me through 7 moves. I sure wish I had my Barbie. She'd be worth a pretty penny today.

I haven't added to the collection in recent years. There comes a point when you have to choose between furniture and dolls. Most of them are packed away from the last major move. Someday, I'd like to get one of those etegeres with glass shelves and display the darlings.

4. Growing up in New York City, the Bronx Zoo provided many forays into the exotic world of animals. Back then, the concept of showing animals in a natural setting hadn't caught on yet. Lions and tigers paced in old-fashioned cages, while mothers kept their young'uns from getting too close. The monkeys and elephants were the main attraction for me.

5. My high school was across the street from a residential school for the deaf. Thus began my fascination with sign language. Years later, a pastor's wife did a sign language special, rekindling my interest. After a bit of searching, I located a teacher at another church and took lessons for a year. (Methinks there's a pattern here.)

Eventually, I was part of a sign language troupe. I also signed the worship for our church services. Unlike piano and singing, sign language remains an important part of my life.

6. In case you haven't figured it out from my blog, purple is my favorite color. I decorate with it, wear it, and everyone associates me with it. My friends and family know they can't go wrong with color if they choose purple.

7. I'm a big Peanuts fan. I have a link to the Snoopy Dance on my computer compliments of my cousin. When I need to chill out for a few minutes, I hit the link and enjoy Snoopy, Woodstock, and Schroeder as they cavort to the Peanuts music. It's almost as good as chocolate. Okay, okay, let's not get crazy here. Chocolate always comes out way ahead. :)

So, I'm tagging Sarah, Jessica, Annie, and anyone else who'd like to participate. I can't wait to read seven random facts about you.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Round-Up - #14

It's been one of those mornings, folks. None of the links for today's post worked, so I'm starting from scratch. Argh.

In case you missed my Contest Time post, check it out. It's dated Wednesday, September 10, 2008. When I hit the link, Blogger told me the page didn't exist. Trust me. It does. The contest deadline is September 30, 2008, so check it out soon.

Terry Whalin has an interesting post on marketing. In his usual no-nonsense, cut-to-the-chase style, he illustrates an important principle.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Meet my friends, Christina Berry and Sherrie Ashcraft.

They are a mother-daughter writing team who put out an infrequent, humorous newsletter. Here's a taste of what you might get, should you choose to sign up: For the first time in the long, illustrious history of our careers we are going to committee!

Crash course in publication terminology for you normal, sane subscribers who haven't crossed over to the dark side of humanity by deciding to write a book. The process of publishing goes a little something like this:

~Write a stunning, brilliant book

~Discover you know nothing and revise for nearly a decade

~Land an agent who believes in your work and can magically penetrate the force field surrounding publishing houses OR attend conferences that temporarily allow you to stand in the blinding presence of editors from said publishing houses

~Pitch--as in try to sell your story, not throw an inside fastball--for one week to twenty years

~Get an editor interested in the book

~Be rejected

~Repeat the last two steps for an indefinite period of time

~Finally, have multiple editors from the same house express interest and tell you they're taking the project to committee

The committee consists of the editors, vice presidents of the company, the marketing department, and other publishing bigwigs. The committee meets and exists for the purpose of saying "no." The goal is to make it IMPOSSIBLE for them to reject the book.

And so we sit, on the cusp of having all our dreams come true, of total validation of our worth as people ... um, okay, that might be expecting a bit much from getting published. Anyway, the house that's interested in our joint book is meeting tomorrow (Wednesday, August 20). Please, please pray for the Lord's will to be done. (Your prayers will not earn you an extra entry in our contest, but we think some of you will pray for us anyway.)

Here's the funny part about this newsletter: they ended up not going to committee that day because the company's fiscal year starts in October, so the decision has been postponed until then! Guess they need to add another step to the process ...

To help them out, I'm running a contest. If you sign up using this link to the Ashberry Lane Newsletter and designate me as the one who referred you, you'll be entered into a drawing for a free book. The best part is we won't have only 1 winner, but 3.

October Song by Beverly Lewis

Land of My Heart (Heirs of Montana #1) by Tracie Peterson

The Coming Storm (Heirs of Montana #2) by Tracie Peterson

And that's just from me!

You'll also be entered to win an MP3 player or free autographed books for the life of their writing career, should it ever occur. The Christian Writer/Reader Connection contest will end on September 30, Christina's birthday. The Ashberry Lane giveaway will occur when they have 1,000 subscribers. Hey, they're already more than halfway there! The more people you have sign up, the more chances you have to win.

**This post written by Susan as told to Christina.

Christina Berry

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Creative Process

In sports, athletes sometimes experience a false start. Everyone is called back, and they begin again. We often jump the gun and commence writing before our ideas have sufficient time to develop. What we view as writer's block can actually be the result of going into the work phase too fast.

Currently, I'm writing a story for A Cup of Comfort for the Grieving Heart. With plenty of personal experience, reams of notes, and 2 years walking through this time of mourning, the story seemed ripe. I prayed God would give me direction and help me sort and sift out what didn't belong in this particular piece. Part of this process included reading and re-reading the publisher's guidelines.

The first version tore me up on the inside. I wrote full steam ahead for a hour, and virtually collapsed. The piece emphasized too much pain and not enough hope. Version 2 came closer to hitting the mark, but didn't quite achieve the take-away element. At this point, frustration reared its ugly head. Should I put this project aside? Maybe I was wrong about the timing. Again, I brought it before the Lord, asking for direction.

My prayers were answered in an unexpected way. Several blog posts caught my attention at the time I was grappling with this story. The problem didn't originate in the piece, but in my lack of understanding about the creative process. As I read, it dawned on me how I'd often stumbled through these phases without realizing I was following a pattern. With my newfound knowledge, I could flow with these principles and defuse the negative self-talk when the writing appeared to be stalled. You can read Kristy Holl's posts for yourself at Check out posts dated August 22 - September 5, 2008.

Version 3 is written, ready for my writers' group to critique, and close to the submission point. Whether or not it's accepted by this anthology or somewhere else, I've gained valuable insights on how a story develops.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Friday Round-Up - #13

A gentleman from my writers' group started an organization with 2 other men called, "Veterans Helping Veterans." Since they are in the start-up phase, they do not have a website yet. Their mission includes a visitation program for hospitalized veterans to encourage and offer prayer. A women's auxiliary will minister to the wives and children of veterans. They also want to provide needy families of veterans with clothing, food, and necessary transportation.

The group is currently seeking non-profit status. Funding will be sought from grants, businesses, individuals, and fund raisers. For veterans and their families in the South Eastern Pennsylvania area, a Pot Luck Picnic will be held on September 28, 2008 from 2:30 P.M. until dusk at the Franconia Community Park. Please use the Allentown Rd. entrance. R.S.V.P.: Roger Sovocool at 215-453-1435 or Mike Reynolds at 215-723-6814. Soft drinks will be provided, as well as live Gospel Music and Bluegrass, sports, and games.

Either of the individuals mentioned above can provide additional details on the group's vision and activities.


Crystal, over at the Chat 'N Chew Cafe, posted a Color Career Counselor test. The basic test is free. I took the test and came out as a Creator. Suggested career paths ranged from Advertising Executive to Author. (Yay!) The secondary career path called me an Organizer. (They should see my desk.) Anyway, it was fun, and I thought I'd pass it along to you.

A friend sent me an announcement about, "Churchmouse Publications," which is open to submissions. Check out their website at: I emailed them and requested their guidelines. They are looking for both new and established artists, authors, creators, and photographers. I'm still researching this opportunity. If any of you have experience with publishing syndicates, please share your knowledge with us.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

On My Nightstand - The Novelist by Angela Hunt

Jordan Casey, best-selling author, is challenged to drop her literary persona and write something from her heart. Her seemingly perfect life is thrown into chaos by her son's self-destructive behavior.

For the first time, she spins a tale that moves full circle from an idyllic life, to disaster, and ultimately to redemption. The effects of her journey touch multiple lives as she reaches into the depths of her being and cries out to God for answers.

Once again, Angela Hunt gives us a story that provokes contemplation and soul-searching. Her books are a must-read for any serious writer.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Little Nuances - Lee Warren

Lee Warren, over at Little Nuances blog, posted some advice for newbie bloggers. He has some nuggets I think you'll appreciate.

He recently celebrated his third "blogoversary." Congratulations, Lee.

Monday, September 1, 2008

How Do I Choose Books? Let Me Count The Ways

Ah books. The romance bloomed in childhood and continues to this day. Many authors and marketing people suffer angst over encouraging people to buy books. As a writer and passionate reader, here's how I make my personal book-buying decisions:

Genre - I'll try new genres, but a strong story is essential. Same-old, same-old with a different setting and characters becomes a cure for insomnia.

Lately, I've experienced some genre surprises. Edgy fiction makes me think. I don't always agree with the ideas, but at least it keeps me engaged. A foray into Christian chick lit provided laughs, while still carrying a serious undertone.

Author - Have I ever heard of this person? What kind of reviews are out there? Have any of my friends read this book?

I once heard someone say the difference between a woman sports fan and a man sports fan is she wants to know about the athlete's life, while the guy is primarily concerned about the athlete's performance. As a woman, I need to connect with the author, as well as the book. It's one of the reasons I read blogs almost as voraciously as I read books.

My list - Since my funds rarely keep pace with my reading appetite, I've started a Wish List on Amazon. The stress of remembering titles and authors drawing my attention became overwhelming.

Speaking of Amazon, I do shop there. Another happy place is my local Christian bookstore, especially when they send out flyers with coupons. Hurray for coupons! This weekend, they have a 25% off coupon on regular and sale-priced merchandise, making them competitive with Amazon and my other favorite,

While I suppose a lot of people read the back-cover copy, I'm not one of them. If I turn a book over, it's to check the price. My research is done via computer and word of mouth. When I go into a store, 99.9% of the time I know exactly what I want. However, seeing something I want on sale with the added spice of a coupon often causes me to switch gears (and usually spend more than I'd planned).

With all the books out there, how do you decide what to purchase?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Tekeme/Mary DeMuth Contest Deadline

The deadline for the Tekeme Studios/Mary DeMuth contest has been extended to September 10, 2008. This is great news for all those, who missed the August 29th date.

Check out my post dated August 12, 2008 for details.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday Round-Up - #12

Woohoo! The Labor Day Weekend is almost here. Since everyone in my office deserted ship, I'm working a full day today.

My travels across the Internet this week have yielded some super duper articles. One blogger featured a test called, "What Font Are You?" You can discover your "font type" at In case you're interested, I came up as an Andale Mono, which means I'm a geek, pure and simple. I'm not so sure I like that moniker, but the description sure fits. One of my requirements for this blog was an easy-to-read font.

Literary Agent, Rachelle Gardner, posted about the editorial process. Do you want to know what happens when a publishing house editor reviews your manuscript? Take a stroll over to her blog and see.

Edit Cafe ran an article yesterday on, "12 Steps To Successful Book Signings." Even if you're a pre-published author like me, it's a file-for-future-reference item.

Enjoy the weekend! I'll be posting as usual on Monday.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

On My Nightstand - Watching The Tree Limbs by Mary DeMuth

This novel about a young girl forced to confront adult issues latched onto my heart and refused to let go. Mara struggles to find answers we take for granted. Longing for love and a real home, she probes until those around her finally tell the truth.

Mary DeMuth shows us Mara's heart, her courage, and her determination to survive. The theme of God's answers to a child's prayer weaves its way seamlessly throughout the book.

I can't wait to read the sequel, as well as Mary's other works. Don't miss this classic example of the triumph of good over evil.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Easy Way?

Sometimes I wonder whether the struggle to get a contract with a traditional publisher is worth the time and effort. The statistics can be discouraging. So, when self-publishers come knocking at my door, it's tempting to take the easy path. But is it really easy?

If I enjoyed regular speaking gigs and people were asking for materials, self-publishing would be a way to get something into their hands quickly. If my book was a family memoir, a fund-raising cookbook, or something else with limited appeal, taking this route might make sense. Since I'm writing a mystery/suspense novel, my book doesn't fall into any of these categories.

What are my motivations for bypassing traditional publishing? Am I tired of the endless edits, conflicting opinions, a thin skin for critiques, or a steep learning curve? Am I looking for a shortcut to see my words in print? One thing I do know. If I'm going to put a book out there, I want it to honor the Lord in every respect no matter how it's published.

While self-publishers tout the advantages of author control over the title, cover, and manuscript, I feel like I'd be trying to go to the Olympics without the benefit of topnotch trainers and coaches. Unless I'm prepared and able to spend big bucks on editing and marketing, my book starts off from a weakened position. Sure, there are the exceptions, but I've run into too many folks discouraged by an inability to sell their books.

Things are changing in the self-publishing industry. Maybe it's easier and less costly than it was a decade ago. The day may come when I take a serious look at self-publishing. Until then, I'll continue seeking a team of professionals to produce my manuscript.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Round-Up - #11

Yahoo! Unleaded regular dropped to $3.39.9 per gallon. I sure hope prices keep plummeting. This morning, I called a few heating oil companies. Those prices have also seen a steep decline. If your oil tank is low, it's a good idea to fill it now.

News bite: I submitted another article this week, which makes two since the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. Character sketches and research are on my agenda for a new project, as well as giving my WIP some First Aid. I'm also mulling over a story for, "A Cup of Comfort For The Grieving Heart." Material is plentiful on the subject, but I'm asking the Lord for direction. Thankfully, the deadline isn't until February 1, 2009.

Do you know what day we celebrate on November 15th? It's "I Love to Write Day." Visit for more details. I checked out their website, and they have some creative ideas. My imagination went into overdrive when reading about activities from past years. Maybe I'll do a post on this closer to the official date.

Here's another website for all the bloggers out there.

I'm having a spiffy day! Hope you are too. :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I love books, and I especially love words. Some words make me happy because they seem to skip off the page. Others paint brilliant pictures. Here are a few words that I enjoy.

Spiffy - This word makes me think of something I like a whole lot. I once purchased sunglasses on a trip to California. Maybe it was the sunshine, but I felt spiffy.

Splendiferous - A friend, who passed away several years ago, invented this word to describe something super wonderful.

Handy-dandy - Now I don't know if this is a cliche or not, but I still like it. I like it so much I have to watch out I don't use it too often.

Pandemonium - I can see total chaos when I read or hear this word.

Trickle - Water, I hear water. A dripping faucet? A leaky roof? Neither one is a pleasant picture, but the word finds its way from my pen to the page.

Splash - Hmm, I like water words a lot. This verb makes me think of kids in a pool having a water fight.

Scrape - Some people might shudder at this word. Skinned knees, nails of a blackboard come to mind. It makes me think of getting the last bit of cake batter (chocolate, of course) out of a bowl and licking the spatula.

What are some of your favorite words and why?

Monday, August 18, 2008

How To Beat The Post-Conference Blues

So, you did it. You poured over the conference brochure, registered, made travel and hotel reservations, and emptied your piggy bank to pay for it all. God spoke to your heart through te speakers and other conferees. The whirlwind days are behind you, and you're home again. Now what?

The initial excitement has been replaced by re-entry into everyday life. Work, family, home, church, and other responsibilities pull you in a hundred directions. How are you going to accomplish all your writing goals? Your conference balloon bursts with a bang. What have you gotten yourself into?

Editor A wants your article with the necessary changes ASAP, while Editor B needs 3 devotionals within a month. Several bloggers want to meet for lunch, while 2 newspaper editors are clamoring for testimonies. How do you sort everything out and fit them into your already impossible-to-handle schedule?

Calm down. Take a deep breath. Maybe several deep breaths. Spend some quality time with the Lord and your family. Slow the pace. There's an old Pennsylvania Dutch saying: "The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get." Trying to rush through tasks often causes more problems than it solves.

After the initial flurry of activity subsides, pull out your conference notes, and list your tasks in order of deadline and importance. The bloggers' lunch can go to the bottom of the priority list, while Editor A gets top billing. What items get your creative juices flowing? While all those freebies you picked up at the conference are tantalizing, they can wait until your life settles back into a more normal routine. When you're watching TV, you can pull one or two out and decide whether or not you want to submit to those markets.

Perhaps you received a critique at the conference. Your work-in-progress needs some polishing. Be sure to carve out some time to put what you've learned into practice. Oh, and don't forget to unpack all those craft books you stuffed into your suitcase and almost got a hernia lugging around. They'll refresh your memory.

There. You now have a plan. You're ready to sit down at your computer. With all your ideas, at least you won't be wondering what on earth to write.

Link Problem

Laina informed me a link from the Friday Round-Up is not working. I checked out the problem, and found a way to get around it. If you go to and check on links (left side of home page), you'll come to a page with a link for Writing Snippets. Clicking on that link will bring you to Eva's poem and writings from others in the group.

When I originally clicked on the link in Eva's email, it worked perfectly. For some unknown reason, it won't work from Blogger. I apologize for any inconvenience.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Round-Up - #10

My friend, Eva, who also attended the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference, emailed me with exciting news. She won the contest for best published poem. Her poem and articles from other authors can be viewed at

In my travels yesterday, I found a great article on building blog traffic at The post is dated August 13, 2008. Whether you're a newbie blogger or a veteran, you'll find something valuable.

I have a blogging tip of my own. Before the conference, I updated my business card and included my blog address. Whenever anyone shows the slightest interest in my writing, I give them my card and invite them to visit my blog.

On Tuesday, I posted a contest for Tekeme Studios and Mary E. DeMuth. There are 3 ways to win awesome prizes, which include a free website or blog design.

Congratulations to George and Ashley Weis, of Tekeme, on the birth of their baby boy. Check out Ashley's blog for cute pictures and information.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

He Watches Over Me - Part II

The Lord not only answered many of my prayers during this conference, but He also had some special blessings up His sleeve. I was aware author, Mary E. DeMuth, would be on the faculty. I planned to get her book and hoped she would sign it. At first, I didn't even see her.

After a Q&A panel, I went up to her and introduced myself. She said she'd be happy to sign my book. The next day, at The Writers' View 2 luncheon, she chatted for a bit and posed with me for a picture.

Author, Lisa Samson, was also at the conference. On Saturday, she had lunch with us. I was encouraged as she shared some of her writing experiences.

Susan May Warren taught two workshops. After the first session, I went up to her and introduced myself. She recognized me as one of the people on her My Book Therapy group. We spoke briefly, and she told me about a benefit of My Book Therapy. I've signed up for a special weekly email.

In addition to faculty members, I met people from several states. We swapped business cards and promised to keep in touch. I've made so many new writer friends during the four years I've attended The Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference.

When I arrived home, Mom took possession of Mary's book (Watching theTree Limbs) and devoured it in 2 days. I guess I get my love for reading from her. Last night, I started Mary's book and was immediately drawn into the story. I can't wait to read the rest of it.

Although all my writer dreams didn't come true, I learned more about the craft. My book will reflect those lessons in the coming months. I also felt prompted to branch out and experiment with different types of writing. Refreshed, I'm ready to continue my journey.