Saturday, February 27, 2010

This & That - #3

Thanks to Mimi Baker, at Woven By Words, for the Happy 101 Award. I hope you'll check out her fun blog.

Shannon O'Donnell bestowed this award on me for commenting on her blog. I appreciate the honor, but it's you who deserves it most for your enjoyable site.

Okay, I'm supposed to share seven things about myself:

1. When I was a kid, I could keep a hula hoop going longer than most of the others in the neighborhood. (Now, I can't manage it at all!)

2. Once I got the hang of reading, it wasn't unusual for me to read seven books per week. (The library was hard-pressed to keep me supplied with reading material.)

3. I took two city buses to get to my high school--a character-building exercise.

4. My high school was across the street from a school for the deaf. I purchased my first sign language textbook as an adult. Eventually, I took classes, and now lead a Sign Language Worship Team.

5. Although I hated history in school, I love it now. Maybe all those historical novels influenced my attitude.

6. Chocolate is my favorite flavor. I don't waste calories on non-chocolate confections unless I'm desperate. I've been known to buy a vanilla frozen yogurt and make the clerk cover it in chocolate sprinkles.

7. I'm convinced they modeled Cookie Monster after me. Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite variety, but I also enjoy Oreos.

I'm passing on this award to two of my Blogger Buddies:

Kristen Johnson's, "Adventures of History Girl," blog entertains me with all sorts of history-related goodies.

Jan Cline shares her writing journey on her, "Precious Times Gifts by Jan," blog. There's always something interesting to stimulate my imagination and quicken my spirit.

I'd love to give out more awards, but I'm out of time.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Round-Up - #88

Larry Brooks guest posts over at Jeannie Ruesch's blog on the subject of the romance genre. One intriguing quote I'll share right now: "Romance is the brain surgery of fiction."

Gail Gaymer Martin, at Writing Right, talks about brainstorming conflicts.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Interview with Tamara Leigh & Book Giveaway

Tamara Leigh is the best-selling author of twelve novels, including "Perfecting Kate" and "Faking Grace." A former speech and language pathologist, Tamara lives with her husband, David, and their two sons in Tennessee.

Welcome to Christian Writer/Reader Connection, Tamara. I've looked forward to sharing this interview with readers ever since we first connected.

1. I understand you wrote Medieval fiction but switched over to Chick Lit/Contemporary Women's Ficton. What were some of the challenges you faced making the transition?

In 1994, my writing career was launched in the secular market with the publication of "Warrior Bride." Six more medieval romances followed, over the course of which my faith grew and worked its way into my writing. Eventually, this became a problem for my editors who wanted more love scenes, not "religion." And that, in a nutshell, is why I started writing inspirational stories.

As for the challenges inherent in the switch from secular to inspirational, the first was learning that medieval fiction doesn't have much of a following in the Christian market. Thus, publishers asked me for "something different." That caught me flat-footed since I only wrote medieval fiction. Or nearly so. During one of my earlier "I'm done writing" phases, I had penned a "chick lit" story to relieve my pen and paper craving. So I pulled it out of its drawer (or was it under the bed?), polished it up, and gave the publishers "something different." Thus, "Stealing Adda" (NavPress '06) served as my entree into the world of Christian publishing.

Another challenge--and perhaps the greatest--was pulling from my depths a clear message of faith that could be conveyed by my characters, and their struggles. Whereas the primary focus of my medieval romances was to get my hero and heroine past obstacles to "happily ever," now I needed to get them there in such a way that faith played a major role. A wonderful side effect is that the exploration of my characters' issues in light of their beliefs and willingness to rely on God has helped me grow in my own faith and better vocalize and cement my beliefs.

The last challenge that comes to mind is the size of the readership. The inspirational market is smaller than the secular market, and so print runs and advances are smaller. Which means, of course, it's harder to make a living at writing. But is it worth it? Absolutely.

Thanks, Tamara. We have two more questions in this interview that I'll save for next Wednesday.

To celebrate Tamara's visit, I'm giving away a copy of her book, "Leaving Carolina." The drawing is open to residents of the U.S. only. Leave a comment and your email address in the spam-busting format. Example: susanjreinhardt (at) _____ (dot) com. I won this book in a blog contest, and I'm passing it on for your enjoyment. You'll have a chance to enter again next week (maximum two entries per person)if you leave a comment on that post also. The winner will be drawn on Sunday, March 7, 2010. Contest void where prohibited. No fee is required to enter this drawing.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Supernatural Doings

There's a song that says, "I need a little help from my friends." Ah, but does this help come from angels?

I've heard both pros and cons on the subject. Some get upset and view this as lazy writing. Your character gets out of trouble via supernatural assistance. Others shrug and accept the presence of heavenly beings in literature. After all, they're in the Bible.

I belong in the second camp with one important qualifier. As long as the angels are written in accordance with scripture, I don't have a problem. If people are worshipping them, praying to them, or are elevating them above God, it goes in the trash. Period.

That said, the scripture tells us to be hospitable to strangers because some have entertained angels unawares. Angels are called the servants of the heirs of salvation. They're heavenly messengers, such as the angel, Gabriel, who came to Mary and told her she'd been chosen to bear Jesus Christ. He also brought an answer to prayer to Daniel. A host of angels came to Elisha's defense in the Old Testament.

Most books with angelic intervention are labeled speculative fiction. What's your take on the subject? Have you read any books where the hero or heroine is rescued from a jam by an angel? Do you ever write angels into your manuscripts?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Round-Up - #87

Like most readers and writers, I own many bookmarks. I thought it would be fun to check out the development of this handy little invention. Enjoy!

Since I'm doing research for my next manuscript, I find myself questioning where various items originated. While looking at an appealing book cover, I wondered when publishers began using them. So, for inquiring minds, here's a brief history of book jackets.

Have a safe, fun weekend!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

This & That - #2

Hi Everyone - Please be advised I'm experiencing major computer problems. My posts will show up as usual, but I must go to the library to moderate comments. I'm hopeful I'll be back online by Sunday. Your patience and prayers are very much appreciated. Blessings, Susan :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

On My Nightstand - Rekindled by Tamera Alexander

Kathryn Jennings loves her husband, but longs for him to communicate and connect with her on a deeper level. His trust issues wound her, but she still welcomes him home from an extended trip. After a single day at home, he takes off for parts unknown, promising to return.

Always independent, Larson Jennings can deal with the wilderness. Yet, the dynamics of relationship escape him due to his upbringing. He sets off on a journey to protect his land, and finds himself in a situation where only God can help him.

Will they have a second chance to revive their dying marriage? Or will they be torn apart by tragedy and regrets?

Tamera Alexander does a great job with this historical novel. Set in Colorado during the 19th Century, she makes you forget 21st Century America. It held my attention, although I had to put it down when the conflict became so intense it scared me. Yet, a few minutes later, I'd pick it up because I had to see what happened next.

I've already begun another of Tamera's books. You won't want to miss this exemplary storyteller's work.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Unfinished Highway

When my uncle lived in Virginia, we'd travel down there by car. At one point on our journey, we'd see an unfinished, abandoned highway. I always wondered why they stopped construction. Did they run out of money? Did the company go bankrupt? Year after year, we passed that landmark. For all I know, it's still a road going nowhere.

Our writing can become a road going nowhere, leading us and our readers down rabbit trails with no final destination. We reach the end of our book and our characters are still in limbo. If we don't tie up the loose ends, the reader walks away thinking, "I wonder what happened to Mrs. Quigley?"

I don't know about you, but I like a satisfying ending. Even if it's a series, I want a book to bring the immediate problem to closure.

Do you like unfinished storylines? Does it thrill your imagination to pick up the threads and invent your own ending? What are your thoughts?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Round-Up - #86

My buddy, Lynn Morrissey, wrote a wonderful article on expectations. While she doesn't talk about the subject in terms of writing, I think you'll see how it can apply to our work.

Kathryn Lang, at Successful Freelance Writer, urges us to wake up to possibilities and gives us some helpful steps. (Be sure to scroll up to see the post.)

Thanks to Kathryn Neff Perry, at Katt's Komments, for the Prolific Blogger Award.

While I'm supposed to pass this on to seven bloggers, due to time pressures, I'll say, "thanks," to all my blogging friends. You bring much happiness, knowledge, and encouragement into my life.

Have a great writing/reading week!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Author Interview - Julie Klassen - Part II

Welcome back for Part II of the interview with Author, Julie Klassen.

3. What does your writing process involve? Plotter or Seat of the Pants?

For my first three books, I have definitely more of a seat-of-the-pants approach than an upfront plotter. Once an idea comes to me, I spend time visualizing key scenes and characters, researching the setting (I like to use old maps and Google earth) as well as customs, dress, language, and more. Scene ideas do not come to mind in chronological order, so I keep an ongoing Word file with quick descriptions and snippets of dialogue that will jar my memory when I come back to them.

A lot of what I write initially I know will need to be trashed or at least revamped, but I try to just keep writing all the "fodder" I can. Once all the raw material is there, I know I can go back and revise and edit it. While this "process" (if process it can be called) allows for a great amount of creativity and surprises, it is likely not the most efficient, and I probably spend more time rewriting than I might otherwise. For my fourth book, I am trying to do more plotting and timeline work up front. I'll have to let you know how it goes!

4. Do you ever struggle with writer's block? How do you overcome it?

I struggle with procrastination more than writer's block. To overcome procrastination, I find a writing challenge with other authors (in which we each turn in daily word count goals/actual word counts written) helps a great deal. In fact, I am joining several other historical authors for just such a challenge this month. When I do struggle with writer's block, I go for a walk. I can almost always "see a scene" while walking. If it weren't 10 below at the moment, I would probably be out strolling right now.

Thank you for having me, Susan. Great questions!

Don't forget to check out Julie's books, The Lady of Milkweed Manor and The Apothecary's Daughter. Thanks for joining us for an informative interview, Julie.

Okay, it's your turn now. How do you deal with procrastination and/or writer's block?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Interview Today At Lisa Lickel's Blog

For those curious about my writing journey, Lisa Lickel, at Living Our Faith Out Loud, asked me for an interview. I hope you'll pop over there, and check it out.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Jeanette informed me the basket contains 35 items for one winner. However, you have opportunities for multiple entries. Please see her blog for the details.

My apologies for the confusion.

This and That - #1

My good friend, Jeanette Levellie, over at Audience of One, is having a drawing for 35 prizes in honor of her 35th Wedding Anniversary. Hop over and enter.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Round-Up - #85

Take this FREE quiz to see if you're a Type A personality. It's also helpful if one of your characters is a Type A. You can see what personality traits/behaviors they should exhibit.

Mollie Noble Bull, at Writers Rest, gives a lesson in Marketing Your Novel - 101.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Author Interview - Julie Klassen - Part I

Today, I'm excited to have Author, Julie Klassen, with us. Julie's books, Lady of Milkweed Manor and The Apothecary's Daughter, are set in the English Regency Period.

1. Welcome, Julie. I loved your book, The Apothecary's Daughter. Where do you get your story ideas?

Thank you! My first novel, Lady of Milkweed Manor, featured a young woman, who finds herself in an unexpected profession-working as a wet nurse. For that book, much of my research dealt with medical practices of the day, including the unfamiliar profession of the apothecary. When contemplating a second novel, my editor encouraged me to think of another "unusual profession" for a woman to have. That led to the main character of this book, Lilly Haswell, who finds herself doing the work of an apothecary, at a time when it was illegal for women to do so.

2. Do you see the Regency period as a regular niche or do you plan to branch out to other timeframes?

Good question! Publishers wisely advise new authors to establish a certain genre or niche, so that readers will know what to expect. It would not work well for me to jump from Regency to Westerns to Sci Fi! So, for the next few books at least, I plan to remain within this basic time period. I chose it because it is when Jane Austen published her novels, which I greatly enjoy. In the future, I can see myself perhaps moving up to the Victorian period, and potentially to American-based historicals as well. Time will tell.

Next Wednesday, Julie will answer questions on her writing process and dealing with writer's block. You won't want to miss Part II of this interview.

What genre is your current WIP? Have you thought of subsequent novels you'd like to write?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Up To Speed

With the Vancouver Olympics starting, I've been thinking about the figure skating competitions. Seeing our athletes on the medal stand, especially for a gold, always brings tears to my eyes.

Years ago, when a figure skater did a triple, it was a big deal. Now, they're expected to do multiple triples and sometimes quads. There's a constant push to do what's never been done before. The scoring has changed, as well as the required elements. Technical ability must be matched by artistic expression and fabulous costumes. If an athlete wants a shot at the gold, they've got to be up to speed on what's happening in their sport.

Writers also need to keep up with current trends in the industry. What are editors and agents looking for at this time? What changes have publishers made in their guidelines regarding platform, genre, and marketing? Let's not forget social media and websites.

Once upon a time, the field was wide open. Not many people wrote Christian fiction, and even non-fiction offerings were limited. We're no longer getting in on the ground floor, folks. It's a long climb up to the publisher's office. Our craft and business savvy must be top of the line. It's quad time in the publishing world.

How about you? Are you staying up to speed with the publishing industry? How do you keep tabs on the changes?