Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Round-Up - #34

How are gasoline prices in your area? After a steady downward trend, we're experiencing an upturn. Within the past two weeks, we've gone from a low of $149.9 to $1.77.9. Sigh. I'm returning to my "catch the lowest price strategy." I fill the tank when it's at the 3/4 full mark.

Back to one of our favorite subjects: chocolate! I found a tip on melting my favorite confection. Make sure all your utensils are bone dry. A single drop of water can cause chocolate to "seize." Instead of smooth, silky chocolate, you'll end up with a grainy, lumpy mess.

Chicken Soup for the Soul issued a call for stories on the subject, "Tough Times, Tough People." Because of demand for this book, they've bumped up the deadline to February 28, 2009. Publication is scheduled for June 2009.

They want true stories and poems written in the first person of no more than 1,200 words. Both serious or humorous stories are acceptable. Suggested topics include financial problems and solutions, losing homes and jobs, families pulling together, etc. For the full list, check out the website.

If chosen, your bio will be printed in the book. You will also receive a check for $200.00 and 10 free copies of your book valued at more than $100.00. You'll retain the copyright for your story.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

On My Nightstand - William Henry is a Fine Name by Cathy Gohlke

This story follows the transition of a 13-year-old boy, Robert Glover, from the innocence of childhood to the real-world issues of adolescence.

He notices the late-night disappearances of his father, and the strains in his parents' relationship. Others around him, including his best friend, William Henry, seem to be keepers of some mysterious secret. After someone declares his buddy is not human because he's black, Robert must decide what he thinks about slavery.

His mother and father have opposite viewpoints. Must he take sides? The cost of opposing slavery in the pre-Civil War South is high and extremely dangerous. His decision demands not only a change of heart, but also a call to action.

Cathy Gohlke does a remarkable job bringing this era to life. We see flesh and blood people struggling with life-altering decisions. The author reaches into the reader's heart and connects the dots with a bygone era.

Adults and young adults alike will find this story captivating, educational, and soul-stirring. I'm looking forward to reading the sequel, "I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires."

Monday, January 26, 2009

I Feel A Contest Coming On

This crummy weather makes me think it's time to add some pizzaz into the good ol' blogosphere. Ah, I know just the solution. What better prize is there than a great book to brighten a snowy day (or rainy day if you're down south)?

Enter a comment with your email address, and you'll be entered in Christian Writer/Reader Connection's first book drawing of 2009. What book am I giving away? Hang onto your hats! "Only Uni," from Camy Tang's Sushi Series may soon be in your mailbox.

Rules: The deadline is Saturday, January 31st. The drawing will only take place if two or more people enter. A winner will be drawn on Monday, February 2, 2009 and notified via email.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Round-Up #33

Crystal Laine Miller, of the Chat 'N Chew Cafe, gave me the Premio-Dardas award. I'm honored to be mentioned in the same breath as the other writers in her post.

Here is what is said about the Premio-Dardas: "This award 'acknowledges the values that every Blogger displays in their effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values with each message they write.'

Awards like this have been created with the intention of promoting community among Bloggers. It's a way to show appreciation and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web."

Here are the rules:

1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who granted it to you, along with his/her blog link.

2. Pass the award to (15) other blogs that you feel are worthy of this recognition. Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen as recipients.

Here's my list of 15 bloggers I read on a daily basis.

Jessica Nelson - BookingIt

Mike Dellosso - Wide-Eyed Fiction

Rita Gerlach - InSpire

Christina Berry - Posting With Purpose

Tina Russo, Mary Conneally, Julie Lessman, et al - The Seekers

Mary DeMuth - So You Want To Be Published

Terri Tiffany - Terri Tiffany Inspirational Writer

Tiffany Colter, et al - Writers' Rest

Dr. Mary Ann Diorio - The Write Power

Jennifer Hudson Taylor - Jennifer's Writing

Annie - More Than Just a Mom

Sarah - Saraccino Blogiato

Tracy Ruckman, et al - Pix-N-Pens

Susan Lohrer - Inspirational Editor

Sue Cramer - Praise and Coffee

There are so many other blogs I would have liked to add, but the list would have rivaled the telephone book. I salute the many fine bloggers out there, working hard to bring knowledge and encouragement to the blogosphere. Thank you!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

On My Nightstand - Grace at Low Tide by Beth Webb Hart

Beth Webb Hart draws a startling picture of human nature. Fifteen-year-old DeVeaux starts off life as part of Charleston society, but finds herself in a totally different world when the family falls on hard times.

Lessons about faith, life, money and the lack thereof abound. Detailed descriptions transport the reader into this young woman's Southern upbringing and the culture clash that rocks her world. DeVeaux travels the road of depression, hope, and coming to terms with her situation and relationships.

As literary fiction, this book highlights the universal truths of forgiveness, mercy, and grace. I found it a thoughtful look at the meaning of life.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Pinch Off Those Suckers

Fresh, homegrown tomatoes. Ah, my mouth waters thinking about them. My grandmother and mother grew these plants from my earliest memory. While I enjoy growing vegetables, there's something special about watching these juicy treats form on the vine.

Mom taught me to pinch off the suckers on the tomato plants. While those shoots look promising, they siphon off energy from the fruit-bearing branches. By simply removing them, the plant gets a much-needed boost.

There's a ton of information out there on the Internet about writing, marketing, blogging, and every possible genre. I'm one of those people who dive in with both feet, and often find myself drowning in facts. Recently, I've become more selective about the websites and blogs I frequent. If it isn't moving me toward my writing goals, I "pinch it off" my writing plant. My time and energy is conserved for the "fruit-bearing" efforts of improving my craft, building a platform, and putting in that all-important BOC (bottom on chair) time.

Are there areas in your writing life that may be fun, but not moving you closer to your goals? Have you cut back in some ways or re-focused your attention when it comes to the Internet?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Round-Up - #32

Although the Christmas decorations are packed away until next year, maybe you still have some gift money burning a hole in your pocket. I came across a website offering merchandise designed especially for writers. Check out the typewriter key jewelry, moleskin journals, and Writer's Survival Kit. My personal favorites: The "Will Write For Chocolate Collection." Hmm, my birthday is coming soon. Maybe I should leave this post where my family can spot it.

A couple of months ago, I signed up for C. J. Darlington's, "TitleTrakk," newsletter. She features news about books, music, blogs, etc. and runs contests.

Have you seen those chocolate fountains at parties, bridal showers, etc.? Well, you don't have to rush out and purchase one to enjoy the taste of chocolate-covered fruit or pretzels. One ounce of chocolate in a small, microwave-safe dish is all you need. Microwave on high for 45 seconds. Stir. It may not look melted, but it is. Careful - don't scorch the chocolate. My favorites: chocolate covered strawberries and pretzels. Yummy!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

On My Nightstand - Club Sandwich by Lisa Samson

Lisa's title refers to a thirty-something mom, desperately juggling the demands of three kids, a marriage teetering on the edge of disaster, a job, a parent with health issues, a writing dream, and less than helpful siblings.

Ivy Schneider discovers there are others in her area sandwiched between the generations. A group forms, fostering friendships, faith, and the realization of how they fit into their roles as parents, spouses, and caregivers.

Lisa doesn't offer pat or simplistic answers. Her characters learn and grow at their own pace. Sometimes they take baby steps and occasionally a leap of faith. Once again, the author has written a true-to-life story, which will encourage women.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Stamp Out Fear in 2009

Fear. It's devious. You think you've learned its tricks, and it pops up masquerading behind the word, "concern." You think you're trusting the Lord with your writing, and POW - a rejection sends you reeling. You overhear a comment, and it plays on your mind. One little thought mushrooms into a full-length movie complete with tragic ending.

I wish I could say I was immune to these attacks. Whenever I've said, "Yes," to the Lord, my commitment faced challenges. Well-meaning folks made condescending comments. Others ignored the subject altogether. A few supported for a short time, and then gave up when I didn't reach my goals in what they believed was a reasonable amount of time. Sometimes my greatest critic was myself.

This is when I flee to the One, who knows everything about me. There is no flaw, no weakness, no strength, no gift, no fear hidden from His eyes. I pour out my heart - oh, not to inform Him, but rather to unburden and cast my cares upon Him. His shoulders hold up the universe, so my little problems are a piece of cake for Him.

His Word gives me courage and shows me how to deal with this insidious enemy. II Timothy 1:7 and Isaiah 40:31 are mainstays in my arsenal against fear, worry, and whatever other name you want to give that feeling that beats you into the ground.

I don't wait for good feelings to come. That is not the measure of fear's defeat. Peace comes when I remain in an attitude of quiet trust in the face of the attack, holding up the shield of faith and wielding the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God). I know my Father, and He brings me through - sometimes in the most surprising ways.

Whatever you're facing in your writing life or in your family, run to the Rock of your salvation. What are some of the tactics God has given you to battle fear? Let's encourage each other today.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday Round-Up - #31

Chocolate Fact: Adding a bit of chocolate to milk is a great incentive for kids to drink that bone-building beverage. My own Mom used this trick. Bosco was my favorite brand. Other kids enjoyed Nestle's Quik, while some preferred Ovaltine. Oh my, I'm showing my age.

I checked out a new commenter's blog recently and discovered lots of excellent articles. Jennifer Hudson Taylor tells us how to "write the moment." We've all had those times where inspiration springs up and leads us away from our current WIP. Jennifer's wisdom will help corral those ideas and keep us on track.

Agent Kelly Mortimer, of Mortimer Literary Agency, has a great website called, "Perils of Publishing." This is a must-see resource for writers. Besides craft articles, you can advertise your writing-related business (editing, website design, etc.) FREE. Everything on the site is free. Kelly was named, "Agent of the Year," in 2008. I've bookmarked this one as a Favorite.

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

On My Nightstand - Presumed Guilty by James Scott Bell

Last year, I briefly met James Scott Bell at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. Both his workshop and gracious demeanor prompted me to pick up some of his books.

As a former trial lawyer, Mr. Bell specializes in writing spell-binding mysteries. Presumed Guilty is a fine example of his work.

Pastor Ron and Dallas Hamilton are at the peak of their popularity. Their huge church and campaign against pornography make them public figures. Then, a woman, who comes to Pastor Ron for counseling, is found dead. All the evidence points to him as the murderer.

His wife is devastated. Does she believe her husband or the facts? Her inner struggle, concern for her young adult children, and determination to discover the truth pulled at my own emotions.

The ending surprised and satisfied me. Even though hints were dropped along the way, I never saw it coming. I think you'll enjoy this story and Mr. Bell's skillful writing.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Source

Years ago, a local store ran an ad campaign calling themselves, "The Source." If you needed something, they had it.

The last few days, my time in the Word and prayer dwindled to almost nothing. I'm noticing my spiritual cupboard looks bare. Ideas for blogs, articles, and devotionals have evaporated like the morning dew. Compound this lack of devotional time with a sore throat and cold, and I'm having thoughts about throwing in the writing towel. Mind you, I'm not taking them seriously, but I know I'd better deal with the situation.

I need to go back to THE SOURCE - my Lord. He's the wellspring of all creativity. Whenever I'm struggling with my writing, it's usually because I haven't come away to sit at His feet.

Have you noticed a correlation between your devotional time and enthusiasm for writing?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Friday Round-Up - #30

Happy 2009! Our church celebrated the arrival of 2009 with a potluck dinner and brief service. Afterward, we joined some friends for a time of fellowship. Did you do anything special for New Year's Eve?

The 23rd edition of Sally Stuart's Christian Writers Market Guide comes out on January 15th. This is the ONLY market guide for Christian writers. You'll find the most up-to-date listings for book publishers, periodicals, devotionals, children's markets, writers' conferences, etc. When you purchase the market guide at Sally's site and agree to receive it automatically each year, the price is frozen.

Ann Kroeker examines the topic of stirring our minds thoroughly. She references Oswald Chambers book, "My Utmost For His Highest."

Chocolate Fact: According to Kerry Neville, R.D., a Seattle-area spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, "White chocolate is not chocolate. It does not contain any cocoa solids or antioxidants.