Monday, January 31, 2011

My Love/Hate Relationship with Locks

My love/hate relationship with locks began in junior high school. Those combination types, minimal time to change for gym class, and nerves always added stress to my day.

Memories of those days surfaced when I accidentally locked myself out of the house. Mom came to my rescue that time.

Then, my front door deadbolt decided to throw a tantrum. If I didn't turn the key in just the right way, it refused to open. Well, the other day nothing worked. My neighbor checked it out, tried putting it on life support, but finally pronounced it dead. At 8:00 P.M., I'm running out to Home Depot for a new lock. Sigh.

Publishing sometimes reminds me of locks and keys. You spin that combination dial. "Now, was I supposed to go to the right passing zero twice?" Publisher A says simultaneous submissions are okay, but Publisher B threatens life in prison if you even consider such an offense.

I've been submitting to some new markets. Rather than spread myself out too thin, I picked a few and am concentrating on their instructions. This paid off with an acceptance at the end of 2010. I'm working on a couple of submissions to this periodical, hoping I'll once again find the right combination.

Whether it's book publishers, agents, or periodicals, do you study their guidelines before querying them? Do you concentrate on one at a time or send to multiple people?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #141

Laurel, at Laurel's Leaves, revisits a post on writing compelling characters. She gives excellent examples we can all use in our writing.

With our Virtual Lunch history, I invite you to visit my blogging buddy, Jeanette Levellie. Her motto: "On wings of mirth and worth"

Rhonda Schrock, from The Natives Are Getting Restless, also participated in the Virtual Lunch. Come visit her as she seeks to "encourage the world, one laugh at a time. Starting with you."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Guest Posting at Write Now

I'm guest posting at Karen Lange's blog, WRITE NOW, today. I hope you'll check out Time Management - Jesus Style.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

On My Nightstand - The Lightkeeper's Daughter by Colleen Coble

Addie Sullivan and her mother struggle to keep body and soul together as lightkeepers in northern California. Her father's death and her mother's ambivalence toward her make for a sad life.

A stranger appears on their doorstep, injured from a storm. Addie doesn't know what to think when he declares she's really Julia Eaton, the daughter feared dead by her rich family.

Due to some questions, she decides to keep her identity a secret. She travels to the Eaton home and applies for a position as a governess. There she finds love with a widower, but will they have a chance for that happily-ever-after ending?

Mystery and intrigue follow Addie, threaten her life, and the lives of those she loves. Someone doesn't like Julia Eaton intruding on their territory.

Multi-published author, Colleen Coble, creates a historical tale laced with danger. In my humble opinion, I'm pretty good at disciphering mysteries, but she had me stumped.

This book is a winner on all fronts. Colleen's books always find their way onto my Wish List.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Let Us Rise Up and Build

While traveling through the blogosphere, I stopped by Boomers, Scribblers, and Saints...and discovered inspiration for 2011. Nancy gave a simple, yet profound, example of her grandson's building adventures.

At the end of the post, the scripture jumped off the page and into my heart. Nehemiah 2:18 "Let us rise up and build. They set their hands to this good work."

All my discouragement and excuses melted in the warmth of her post and that scripture.

Are you ready to "set your hands to this good work?"

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Winner of Rhythm of Secrets by Patti Lacy

The winner of Patti Lacy's book, "Rhythm of Secrets," is:

                          JANNA QUALMAN

Congratulations, Janna! I've notified you by email, and will get your book out when I receive your snail mail address.

Thanks to all those who participated in the comments and discussion.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #140

Nancy Moser, at Novel Inspirations from History, gives a brief look at the Chatelaine. The one pictured is something a seamstress might have carried.

I think I'll stick to my purse. :)

Nancy Moser, at Novel Inspirations From History, gives us a peek at fickle women's fashions.

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Jeanette Talks About Reader Response - Virtual Luncheon - Final

"Wrap up this interview, Jen, and leave us with some parting words of wisdom."

Jen gulps down a bite of Raspberry Cheesecake. "I'd love to eat more, but I'm taking home a large doggie bag - make that husband bag. Why do you think I ordered two desserts? So, I can take home a writers' husband perk to Kev. Besides, who has time to eat when the company is so fascinating?

"As far as trial/error lessons are concerned, how many hours do we have? I've learned people don't always like what you write or understand that writing is a valid calling, like preaching or missionary work. They may even send a letter to the editor, telling him they didn't like my column.

"I've also learned that many people listen and are helped by my meager offerings, and that is so gratifying and humbling.  People want to grow and know God better, and I feel so privileged to be a small part of His family, helping Him cover the earth with His word.

"And lastly, I learned that you don't know unless you ask. If I'd been shy about asking to do this column, te Lord could not have opened the door. I stepped out in faith and He said, "Yes - go for it!" He's so sweet like that."

I put down my pen, and give Jen a quick hug. If I could reach Rhonda from where I'm sitting, I would hug her too. "I appreciate both of you for the laughter, the encouragement, and the sneaky zings that get me thinking. Thank you for allowing me to pepper you with questions throughout the meal."

Jen and Rhonda exchange a conspiratorial look. Jen angles herself toward me and says in the sweetest voice, "Don't worry. We've got plans for you, Susie. If you think you're off the hook, you've got another guess coming."

Oh no, what have I done???

Questions for the Reader: How do you handle criticism and praise? Now, it's my turn for your evaluation. How did you like this virtual luncheon interview? Did it hold your attention? Was it too long? Don't hold back. I really want to know what you thought and if you have any suggestions. :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

On My Nightstand - The Rhythm of Secrets by Patti Lacy - Recommendation/Giveaway!

Due to a scheduling conflict, I've decided to post this book recommendation/giveaway today. Stayed tuned. Details of the giveaway follow my comments.

Sheila Franklin knows how to adapt to changing situations. She's a least on the outside. Married to a minister, she's built a life, but one telephone call marks the end of her chameleon existence.

Not only are her secrets revealed, but she must also choose between the man she loves and the son she longs to help. Will she stop running from her past and face it no matter what the cost or once again hide behind her mask?

This is the first book I've read by Patti Lacy, the first of many I hope. (Keep writing, Patti!) She captures the 1940's - 1960's time period from the settings to the attitudes and culture.

Sheila's growth from childhood to 40-something gives an accurate portrayal of a child coping with tragedy, learning, making mistakes, and ultimately getting her life on track. Her speech and thought patterns are always age appropriate.

I read this book in a few days. The story kept drawing me back to see what would happen. The grand finale exploded across the pages, making my heart pound as if I were the character. You don't want to miss this riveting story.

Want an opportunity to win, "The Rhythm of Secrets?" Well, you've come to the right place. :)

1. The giveaway is open to existing Followers and new Followers. Due to various laws, only U.S. residents are eligible. The giveaway is void where prohibited.

2. Comment on this post and leave your email address in the spam-busting format. Example: susanjreinhardt AT _______DOTcom Sorry, no email address = no entry

3. Want an extra entry? Post a link about the contest on your blog, and send me an email with the link to  your post. susanjreinhardt AT gmail DOT com

4. Deadline: Saturday, January 22, 2011, at midnight. The winner will be chosen by random drawing on Sunday, January 23, 2011 and notified via email. A notice will be posted on the blog sometime Sunday.

Disclaimer: The publisher provided me with a copy of this book, but the opinions expressed here are my own. The book is being given away in this contest.

For the reader: Have you ever thought of the 1940's - 1960's as a historical time period? It seems strange to me since I've lived through some of those years. Writers: If you write historicals, is this an era you'd consider?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #139

Janalyn Voight, at Authorhaven, gives us a map to navigate through the dreaded sagging middle.

How do you keep your book from losing steam halfway through?

Blogging pal, Kathryn Lang, discusses ways to focus on your purpose for writing.

Have a super-duper weekend!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Rhonda Runs for President - Virtual Luncheon - Part 7

I put my fork down and dab at my mouth with the napkin. "So we can get out of here prior to dinner, I'm going to skip the next question and move to the last one.

"What trial/error lessons have you learned along the way? Whoever is ready first, be my guest."

The two women look at each other, and Jen pipes up. "I have two  pieces of cake here, and neither of you are doing much to help me out. Rhonda, why don't you go first, while I attempt the impossible?"

Rhonda eats the last bite of her crostata, and nods. "When I started writing the column, I was afraid  people would get tired of hearing family stories. I do try to mix it up by bringing in a mother's take on politics. (I ran for president in 2008.) I've also written about sports (diaper changing should be an Olympic sport), current events, and anything else I can think of, but the bottom line is it's a lot of family stories. And it just resonates with people.

"They don't seem to get tired of it. They understand when I talk about the frustrations of keeping the pantry full, where do the socks go, and a boy's agony when his dog dies. They've experienced all these things themselves."

Jen and I nod our agreement. We women never get tired of family stories.

Rhonda continues. "It's funny, but the weeks that Mister and I both say, 'This one's good, but it's not our favorite,' very often generates the greatest laughter and emotion.

"It's also pushed me to work through the fear, trusting God to provide what's needed to do this job and finding the balance between enjoying reader feedback, but not loving it too much. Beth Moore says that God gives us callings that stir up our insecurities 'so He can scoop it out one spoonful at a time.' And I would have to say, 'Amen.'

"I'm turning my soapbox over to Jeanette now." be continued.

Questions for the Reader: Both Jen and Rhonda use humor and family stories to reach the reader's heart. How do you give  your reader a rich, emotional experience?

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Tortoise and the Hare

Back when I was a kid, we were able to purchase small turtles as pets. Siegfriend and Gottfried were the first pair to join our household. I don't recall the reason why we gave them those names, but I suspect my grandma's love for the TV host, Arthur Gottfried, had something to do with at least one of them.

Playing with them and "racing" them on our slippery wood floors provided lots of fun times. Neither of them moved too fast, so they were evenly matched.

As an adult, one of my dog's favorite games involved chasing the rabbits on our property. Those animals gave her plenty of exercise.

This writing journey sometimes feels like a race. Starting off as a non-fiction writer, I landed a couple of writing assignments almost immediately. The rabbit in me thought, "Hmm, this writing thing is a piece of cake. I can relax and churn out devotionals and articles." Wrong. The rejections rolled in one after the other. Enter the tortoise, slow and deliberate, but always moving toward the finish line. I studied the craft, and my writing improved. More assignments came my way.

The entry into the wonderful world of fiction gave new meaning to the word, "slow." This race moves about as fast as the turtle pictured above. Every word written, every craft book read, every critique taken to heart brings me one step closer to my publication goal.

Patience. Whether it takes one year or ten years, I'm in this race for the long haul. How about you?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #138

I've been reading Crystal Paine's series on getting more blogging done in less time. Have you implemented any of her suggestions?

Laurel Garver, at Laurel's Leaves, gives wise advice to those whose plot is at a standstill. How do you get unstuck? Laurel says, "Rewind!"

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Jeanette Pokes Fun at Herself - Virtual Luncheon - Part 6

Jen pats Rhonda's hand. "Aw, sweetie, you do a great job. In fact, I tell my husband, 'This lady is funnier than me!' He just rolls his eyes at my attempt to fish for a compliment from him. You know how hard it is to get another humor writer to laugh? You make me laugh every time, Rhonda.

"By the way, I want the Triple Chocolate Strate AND the Raspberry Cheesecake. I'll share. I promise."

I look at her and shake my head. "I don't think I'll have room for all that dessert. The Black Tie cake is my favorite."

After the server takes our order, I turn to Jen. "I'm so glad I brought a notebook with me. Otherwise, I'd never remember all these great responses.

"How has the column affected Kevin and your children?"

Jen pulls an index card from her purse, and gets a mischievous grin on her face. "I came prepared, Suze. When you said you wanted to pick our brains, I wrote down some thoughts."

Rhonda and I get the giggles, and we're all gasping for breath by the time dessert arrives. I wipe my eyes. "Oh, I needed a good laugh. Being with two of the funniest ladies on the Internet does have its advantages. Okay, Jen, let's hear it."

Jen takes a bite of the Triple Chocolate Strata and is rendered speechless for a few seconds. Using her fork for emphasis, she says, "This is fantabulous! You've got to try some." She pokes my arm. "Even if it's only a bite.

Back to your question, Suze. Because I use my family as story characters, people know them better than they would otherwise. But then, Kevin gets back at me in the pulpit on Sunday if I've picked on him in the column. It's all fun. A man once thought I picked on him too much, and told me so, but Kevin's a good sport. He'd let me know if I'd gone too far."

I'm scribbling notes, but put my pen down to sample the Black Tie cake. I close my eyes and get lost in the moment. I don't care if I have to live at the gym for six months. This was worth it. I open my eyes to find Rhonda and Jen watching me and holding back the guffaws with the help of a hand over their mouths. "Okay, okay, so I'm enjoying this cake." I smirk. "I'm glad you guys gave me permission to order it." be continued.

Questions for the Reader: Do  you ever include family stories in your writing? If you're a fiction writer, do you use favorite expressions/words of loved ones? Feel free to expand on my questions.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Connecting With The Eternal

This blog is all about connections. I'm not talking about networking although that element plays a part. I'm referring to the bond we have with God and with each other.

Years ago, I watched a skating competition on television. The one skater gave a brilliant technical performance, but her competitor won. Why? Her passion for the music came through.

In this New Year I pray my writing will grow not only from a craft standpoint, but also in expressing spiritual progress. As I touch His outstretched hand, the words on the paper will reflect my relationship with Him.

What is your prayer for the New Year?