Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Round-Up - #129

Kathy Ide, at Pixnpens, gives some tips on polishing our manuscripts.

I think I need to be less enthusiastic with the asterisk key to show a change in POV.

What's your favorite tip?

Janalyn Voight, at Author Haven, takes some of the dread out of the elevator pitch.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Author Interview - Linda Evans Shepherd - Part 2

For those of you who missed Part I of the interview last Wednesday, Linda Evans Shepherd is a multi-published, award-winning author and speaker. She shared on her beginnings as a speaker, as well as how she and her co-author, Eva Marie Everson, collaborate on their books.

3) Welcome back, Linda! Where do you get your story ideas?

Once someone asked me how it feels to write fluff. HA! Eva and I don't write fluff. We write about serious issues - with humor. As Eva and I plan each book, we decide on the issues and challenges that our characters will work through. But we let our characters tell their stories themselves. It's amazing to see how the stories come to life.

4) You've also written a non-fiction book. What are some of the challenges writing both non-fiction and fiction?

With novels, I feel like I'm creating a parable, letting the fiction speak truth to the reader. But with my non-fiction, as in When You Don't Know What to Pray - How to Talk to God About Anything, I use my personal stories as parables to point to truth. Plus, I get to share my personal insights as well as deeper Biblical truths through my point-of-view.

With fiction, I spend my research time talking to people who have been through some of the scenarios in our books, but with non-fiction I spend my research time in deep Bible study and Biblical research.

5) When you have too many ideas for stories, how do you decide which ones to pursue?

You have to ask yourself the question, which story leads to the most compelling read? Once  you determine that, then you know which story to tell.

When it's my turn to write the next chapter of The Potluck Catering Club Series, I try to think of several scenarios but pick the one which seems more dramatic, fun, comical or exciting. Once I know which direction I'm heading, I let the character take over. It's a fun process.

Thanks for a great interview, Linda. At left is one of Linda and Eva's books. I haven't read any of them as yet, but they're on my Wish List.

Question for our readers:  How do you decide which story ideas are worthy of pursuit?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Research in Disguise

Sitting at my computer one day, I made a discovery. I've become downright boring.

Shocking, isn't it? Chained to my desk for hours on end, I'd stopped experiencing real life.

I mulled over the problem. Could I pick up some long-neglected hobby or start a new one? Here's what I decided:

1) I came across an adorable crochet pattern for a baby cap. A quick ride to Walmart, and viola! I was ready to resume crocheting. Where I would get the time remained a mystery.

2) I took time out of my online surfing, and went outside. Oh yeah, smell the roses and all that nature stuff. Hmm, a nice 4X4 raised garden bed might be fun.

3) I spent more time with family and friends, even traveling on a non-holiday. Gasp!

The strange thing about all this activity and gadding about? It gave me more material for my writing. As I soaked up the great outdoors, crocheted my little fingers to the bone, and hung out with people, ideas popped quicker than microwave popcorn. The sights and sounds of farmers markets, growing veggies for our table, and seeing yarn turn into cute baby gifts nurtured my creativity.

To write about real life, we have to live it. It's really research in disguise.

What nurtures your creativity?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Round-Up - #128

Kathryn Lang, at Author Haven, talks about seeing your writing as a ministry.

Do you consider your writing a ministry?

Laurel, at Laurel's Leaves, gives excellent tips on choosing a title for our stories.

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Author Interview - Linda Evans Shepherd

Linda Evans Shepherd and I met at the 2010 Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. She's a multi-published author and speaker. She and Eva Marie Everson collaborated on the popular series, The Potluck Club. You can visit her website or check out her book site, and watch some of the videos available on Youtube.

Let's give Linda a big Christian Writer/Reader welcome!

1) Linda, we don't often ask writers about their speaking platform. How did you "get  your foot in the door?" Also what came first: your speaking or your writing?

The thing I love the most about speaking is the ability to see how people react to my messages. For example, as a writer, I can't see how my words impact the reader nor can I hear her chuckle if something strikes her as funny. But as a speaker, I can both see and hear how God is using my messages.

In college I'd majored in art and drama, thinking I'd be a youth director. But God had other plans and I entered into the world of high tech as a technical writer. But it wasn't until I wrote my first book for teens, Ryan's Trials, some years later, that I got the call to speak. Literally.

One day the director of the national Christian Women's Conference in Denver rang to confirm that I had written a book. She asked, "That means you speak, right?"

My mind raced. Of course I could speak. I had a degree in drama plus I'd recently achieved the rank of "Competent Toastmaster" in Toastmaster's International, an organization that trained business people to speak. So, to my surprise, I answered, "Yes!"

"What do you speak on?" she asked.

As my baby daughter had spent a year in coma before waking up to disabilities, I blurted "Grief relief."

"Perfect!" she said. "How would you like to teach a workshop on grief relief?"

"Sure," I said, and that's how it all began.

Every year, this dear lady would invite me back to teach a workshop, never realizing I only spoke once a year. But the workshops went well, and the third year she asked me to be a keynote speaker. How surprised I was to find myself on the platform with Liz Curtis Higgs and Carol Kent. Since then, I've had the privilege of speaking in almost every state in the U.S. as well as in Canada and Europe.

2) Your Potluck book series is a collaborative effort with Eva Marie Everson. Can you share the mechanics of working with another author? Do you get together or use a special computer program?

Eva and I mastered the art of co-writing by following a few simple rules:

  A) Eva and I picked the characters that we were individually responsible for writing.

  B) We took turns writing chapters in the point-of-view of one of our own characters.

  C) We were allowed to include each other's characters in our chapters.

  D) If one of us should write something unexpected about the other's characters, the new twist could not be changed. We decided that just as real life brings the unexpected, our characters would also face and react to the unexpected. (Honestly, I think it makes our plots exciting.)

As for the mechanics, Eva and I generally get together once a year to do a little writing and to plan our over-arching plot lines, but we finish the novel separately, in our own homes. With Eva in Orlando and me in Colorado, the two of us spend hours IM-ing one another on AOL, while sending chapters back and forth for review and critique.

Our method works! We even went to New York together to research Taste of Fame. A lot of the stories that happened to our characters, like getting lost on the subway, actually happened to us in real life.

Thanks, Linda. We'll continue the interview next Wednesday, October 27th.

Question for our readers: Do you have a speaking platform? I love how Linda seized the opportunity to speak. How did you get your start? (If it's too long, maybe we can interview you!)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Blogging Buddy Brunch

How do you soothe your disappointment at not going to ACFW? Susan Panzica, of Eternity Cafe, and I met at a diner halfway between her house and mine. Mom came along for the ride on a brilliant September day.

We first met at the 2009 Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. After trading business cards, we stayed in touch through our blogs and email.

While eating a delicious breakfast, we talked about the 2010 conference, our writing, and traded manuscript chapters. My blogging buddy is a gifted non-fiction writer. Wow, can she ever paint a word picture! One of her stories had me misty-eyed, while the other brought a smile to my face. She's full of excitement and ideas for her writing.

Naturally, I couldn't pass up the photo-op with my trusty digital camera. The lighting wasn't the greatest, but I did my best.

Here I am with the best Mom in the world. (I'm a bit biased.)

Susan and I decided we'd meet again in the near future. Blogging and email are great, but you can't beat chatting face-to-face. I'm sure all of you who met at ACFW will agree. :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Round-Up - #127

My thanks to Sandra Heska King for this beautiful award. Sandy shares her poems and observations on life. I hope you'll visit her blog.

I'm passing this along to Nancy, of Boomers and Saints. Her blog is a regular stop on my rounds. I'm glad to count her as a friend and fellow-blogger.

Rita Gerlach, at InSpire, shares about connecting with readers on an emotional level.

How do you build connections between your characters and the reader?

Have a super weekend!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

On My Nightstand - Before Another Dies by Alton Gansky

Mayor  Madison "Maddy" Glenn decides to run for Congress. Trying to balance her position as mayor and running a political campaign prove exhausting.

Complications and danger stalk her footsteps as a murderer strikes three times in three days. What's a mayor to do? If you're Maddy, you start looking for answers.

A tantalizing mystery with enough red herrings to feed a very large fish, this story kept me going down the wrong path. Only when Maddy discovered the killer's identity did I find out whodunit.

The author did a great job with Maddy and the other characters. A little romance, a lot of inner turmoil, and a dangerous villain kept this book at the boiling point.

I'm looking forward to reading the third book in the series. It shot to the top of my Wish List after reading the first two stand-alone novels. I'm wondering what other trouble this likable mayor will face. If I were her, I'd consider retiring and moving to another part of the country.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Let's face it, most people aren't going to find a mentor to lead them through the publishing jungle. There is another solution: mini-mentoring.

Everyone has expertise in one area or another. Writers like Bonnie Calhoun are crackerjack bloggers, while others can teach you about writing in a specific genre. Even with the Internet, conferences, blogs, and craft books, sometimes you need to get clarification from a real, live person.

When I'm stuck, I first ask the Lord to help me connect with someone, who can unscramble my brain. While at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference, Linda Evans Shepherd, co-author of the Potluck Club series, sat down at our table for lunch. Her stories about interviews and speaking engagements gave us a thumbnail sketch of what it's like and how to conduct ourselves. She then asked us about our writing. The suggestions she made became a machete, cutting through the writing rain forest.

Each of us can be a mini-mentor for another writer. Perhaps you're a veteran writer with multiple books on the bestseller list. Your articles and your Q and A session in a workshop can cut through a newbie's confusion about Point of View or other subjects.

Perhaps you have an agent, but haven't been published yet. Many of us are still looking for representation. Your insider information can give us direction on how to approach an agent.

No matter what stage you're at in your writing ministry/career, you have something to offer. Mini-mentoring can be as simple as being a critique partner or giving someone an encouraging word after a painful rejection.

To all my faithful writer friends, who offer a hand in scaling this publishing mountain, thank you!

Questions for You:  Have you experienced the blessing of a mini-mentor? Can you share how it impacted your writing and determination to persevere?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday Round-Up - #126

Megan DiMaria talks about how to find a photographer for those important professional pictures. Have you used a photographer? How did you find someone, who met your requirements?

Megan DiMaria continues with her series on professional pictures. Here she discusses preparing for your portrait session.

Do you prefer a formal or casual picture for your website/blog?

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

On My Nightstand - The Incumbent by Alton Gansky

Mayor Madison "Maddy" Glenn knew politics could be a nasty business, but she had no idea it would endanger her friends' lives. When her former campaign treasurer is kidnapped, a macabre clue is left behind.

Throw in an old boyfriend, a not-so-friendly chief of police, and a handsome detective, and you have the makings of a mystery that challenged my mind.

The author did an excellent job with his characters. Madison came to life from page one with her feisty, but kind, personality. My heart broke as I learned about her life and the awful loss she suffered. Keep the Kleenex handy. I needed it several times.

Alton Gansky is a name I've heard in writer's circles for years. I'm glad I finally got around to reading one of his books. While this book is the first of a series, it is a stand-alone novel with a satisfying ending.

Question for You: Do you like mysteries? What do you think of male authors writing female protagonists and vice versa? I'd like to know.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Quotes & Tips on Memoir Writing - Dr. John Perkins

Dr. John Perkins, a keynote speaker at the Philly Conference, made some memorable statements both in the general session and in his workshop with Steve Lawson on Memoir Writing. At 80 years old, he shared from both wisdom and experience. Below is a sampling for your enjoyment:

1) "You've got to be the change you want to see. Reflect His image."

2) Dr. Perkins prayed until 4:00 A.M., waiting on the Lord for his message and the purpose of his being at the conference. "I'm here to rally you, confirming the importance of what you do."

3) Dr. Perkins and Steve Lawson are collaborating on a memoir of his life. "Memoir is a lot about reflecting on how other people affected your life."

4) "If you are practicing religion, you are serving self."

5) "God brings us to Himself individually, so we can serve Him corporately."

Here are some tips Steve Lawson gave about Memoir Writing:

1) It's slices and threads from your life with an overarching theme (forgiveness, a life transformed, etc.).

2) Know where you want to go and select the incidents.

3) Know your audience. What's important to them? Write to them.

4) What can you do in memoir? You're able to reflect on contemporary history. It's an eyewitness account. It's also a chance to look back.

I love the #5, which expresses God's care for us as individuals and as the Body of Christ. Do you see yourself only as an individual or as part of something bigger? Feel free to discuss any of the points above.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday Round-Up - #125

Jean Fischer, at the Walrus and the Carpenter, uses writer quotes and her own applications to demolish writer's block.

Do you have a favorite method to destroy writer's block? Please share.

Camy Tang, at Story Sensei, gives us tips on selecting an agent.

Have a GREAT weekend!