Wednesday, March 30, 2011

On My Nightstand - Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Angel's beauty is legendary, but so is her granite heart. Years of betrayal formed a cynicism and hatred of men to protect her from hurt.

Then Michael Hosea comes to town. His patient, unselfish love chips away at her walls, but will there be anything left once he succeeds?

After Angel sees Michael is genuine, she cannot fathom how this wonderful, godly man could ever love her. Unworthiness sends her hurtling back into the abyss of her old life.

Michael can love her, but he can't repair the damage to her soul. Will she turn to the only One, who can heal her deepest wounds?

I'm probably one of the last people in the Christian writing community to read this book. When my mother said it was the best book (other than the Bible) that she'd ever read, I sat up and took notice. I'm glad I did. This volume will remain on my bookshelf and treated as a treasured classic.

Francine Rivers' sensitive treatment of abuse issues and how they affect the human spirit could only come from the Lord. It's also one thing to understand and another thing to communicate all the nuances on the printed page. She succeeded in writing a timeless masterpiece, picturing the love of the Savior for His people in story form.

In the unlikely event you've never read this novel, pick it up. You'll find not only a love story, but also a glimpse into the heart of the Lord.

Have you read this book? If so, did it affect your view of the grace of God? As writers, how can we give our characters this kind of depth?

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Gravy's Dripping Off My Plate

"My plate is full, and the gravy's dripping over the edge."

My late husband used this saying when his schedule became unmanageable and overwhelming. He was one of the most descriptive storytellers I've ever met. His words flashed pictures in the listener's mind.

Does our writing have that effect on the reader? Can they see and hear the action? Describing ordinary occurrences in extraordinary ways perks up interest and involvement with the characters.

What are some favorite expressions that can be incorporated into your work in progress?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #149

Laurel Garver, at Laurel's Leaves, gives us ideas on how to recycle all the items we cut from our manuscripts.

Have you ever re-purposed a scene or chapter cut from one of your novels or articles?

Laurel Garver, at Laurel's Leaves, goes on a crusade to stamp out apostrophe abuse.

What aspect of using the apostrophe trips you up, if any?

Ha! It looks like today is Laurel Garver Day. I LOVE her blog. :)

*HOT* Fellow blogger, Kelly Moran, lost her blog along with her Followers and interviews. She's up and running, but needs her Followers to hit the Follower button again. Please take a few minutes to go over to her blog and lend your support.  Thanks!

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

On My Nightstand - In Every Heartbeat by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Libby, Petey, and Bennett are best buds from their growing-up years in an orphanage. When given the opportunity to attend college, they're thrilled.

Campus life proves more difficult than they expected. Fraternities haze the guys, while Libby's efforts to land a writing job with a newspaper meet with failure. Each friend fights to overcome the stigma of being an orphan. In Petey's case the issue of a disability adds to the drama.

Growth comes as they discover their own weaknesses and limitations. Only when they depend wholly on the One, who is a Father to the fatherless, do they find peace and purpose.

Kim Vogel Sawyer does a masterful job with this story. The universal themes of love, forgiveness, and fighting for the underdog resonated with this reader.

Plenty of chilly days and nights are still ahead. Curl up with some cocoa, tea, or coffee, and immerse yourself in this pre-WWI novel. You'll be happy you did.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Linky Love

When I first began reading writer blogs, finding them challenged me. Without knowing a blogger's name or the name of their blog, Google seemed stumped at my search criteria.

Several blogs were recommended by fellow writers in my local area. There I hit pay dirt. Enter the BLOGROLL.

Each blog I visited gave further links. Before I knew it, I discovered a whole network of friends and writing resources.

My dive into the blogging pond brought new opportunities. I added links to my blogroll and requested others to put mine on their list.

Links are a great way to connect with other writers. I invite you to check out some of the blogs on my sidebar. You'll discover writing advice, devotionals, fiction blogs, non-fiction blogs, and a few general interest blogs.

What methods have you used to build your blogroll? Do you use the links as a way to visit your core blogging buddies? I'd like to hear about your Linky Love philosophy.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #148

'Tis the season for awards! My friend, Nancy, over at Boomers, Scribblers & Saints, bestowed this lovely one on me. Thanks, Nancy! I'm honored.

I'm supposed to tell you seven things about myself. After over 500 posts, I think you know me pretty well, but for all the new folks, here goes:

1) I love chocolate. Oops, I can't use that one. It's a given for writers. :)

2) Bargain hunting and couponing are my new passion. Although born out of necessity (a.k.a. unemployment), I've discovered I can save a TON of money by using coupons, combining them with sales, and the special savings programs of stores like Rite Aid and CVS. Besides that, it's fun.

3) I started writing for publication in 2004. Non-fiction is my first love, and I still do some work in that area. All of my publishing credits have come from that side of the writing world.

4) My husband encouraged me to pursue writing a novel back in 2005. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. My first efforts...let's just say, "they'll never see the light of day." After many workshops, reading books, and blogs, I've improved. As writers, there's always something new to learn.

5) I'm working on a futuristic fiction trilogy. Unfortunately, the limited demand for this genre has forced the project to the back burner. As of last week, I am throwing ingredients into a fresh pot and cooking up a new story. Shh, don't tell anyone. Let's keep it between us.

6) My birthstone is amethyst for February. Maybe that has something to do with my preference for purple.

7) Italian food and good ol' American are my favorite cuisines. I can't imagine life without pasta.

I'm passing this award on to:
1) Wendy Paine Miller, of Thoughts That Move. A gifted writer, she knows how to dig deep and examine motivations.

2) Alisa Hope Wagner, of Faith Imagined.  She's a regular stop on my Internet trail. I know I'll always find a good word when I arrive.

3) Rita Gerlach, of Inspire Writer. A published, historical fiction writer, Rita shares her journey and gives valuable writing advice.

4) Angela Ackerman & Becky, at the Bookshelf Muse. If you're having difficulty describing something or want to improve your abilities in this area, go see these writers. You'll want to devote some time to exploring their site.

5) Jan Cline is the Director of the Inland Northwest Writers Conference, in Washington state. The conference is March 19, 2011. Jim Rubart, author of Rooms, is the keynote speaker, and our very own Terri Tiffany will be presenting a workshop on how to write a Chicken Soup for the Soul story.

6) Jill Kemerer, Inspirational Romance Author, writes excellent posts sprinkled with amazing photos.

7) Katie Ganshert is a newly contracted author. If you want to follow someone's road to publication, she's a good choice. Her posts are fresh and honest.

Thanks to all these bloggers for many hours of inspirational and educational reading. In case you haven't noticed, all of these sites are on my blogroll. I hope you'll get to know their authors and visit them as often as your schedule allows.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


I'm reminded of Tweety-Bird. "I thought I saw a putty-cat! I did! I did!" In this case, I thought I did a post for today. Alas, with everything going on around here, I goofed. Please accept my apologies.

Since spring is a few days away, I thought I'd update you on the state of the flowers and trees. I've seen crocuses in bloom and daffodils budding. Although I don't see evidence the trees are awakening from their winter sleep, my allergies tell me they will soon make their presence known.

My writing's been asleep all winter. Okay, I've done some, but not as much as I'd hoped. The temptation to curl up with a good book and forego time on my WIP proved rather strong. It's time to dust off the cobwebs and do some spring cleaning on my manuscript.

What season of the year is your most productive writing time and why?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Don't Get Derailed!

From my earliest memories, I've traveled via train. Like anything mechanical or electrical, things go wrong. Trains go out of service or get stuck in a tunnel, making the trip an adventure. An hour journey stretches into a marathon.

Disappointment can mean a glitch in our writing journey or end our career. Fifty editors and agents may pass on our book. Submissions to periodicals are ignored or acknowledged with a form letter saying, "Thanks, but no thanks."

What determines whether a disappointment turns into a total disaster? One thing: our attitude. Thomas Edison endured many failures in his efforts to invent the lightbulb, but he pressed on and succeeded. He's one of many, who faced obstacles and overcame them.

I'm determined not to allow small disappointments to derail my writing dreams. I look at them for what they are: a temporary delay.

How do you fight the doubts when disappointment meets you at every turn?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #147

Janalyn Voight, at Author Haven, gives 10 Quick Tips for Your First Draft.

Do you have any suggestions to add to her list?

Angela Ackerman, at the Bookshelf Muse, writes about symbolism that foreshadows deception.

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Author Interview - Colleen Coble - Part II

Welcome back, Colleen! Let's jump right into our Q&A session.

4.  Our readers would be interested in your writing process. Would you share your methodology? Plotter/SOTP?

I'm kind of in between but mostly SOTP. I start off with an interesting premise and some kind of fun conflict between my protagonists. I often don't even know who the murderer is myself though. I've tried plotting, but it takes the fun out of it for me if I know who did it. :) So I throw my characters into harrowing circumstances and see what happens.

5.  Every writer has research secrets. Do you have any tips for our readers on conducting research?

I approach research a little differently. I start with a PLACE. People in Michigan's Upper Peninsula are different from people in Arizona. And the things that are in the news are different. So I figure out where I'd like to set a story, and then I read history and newspapers in that area to get a feel for the kind of people who settled there and the interests they might have. It really gets my creative juices flowing.

6. What new projects are in the pipeline? Will there be a new release in 2011?

There is always something going on! In April the 3rd book in the Mercy Falls series will release. It's called The Lightkeeper's Ball, and the cover is just fabulous. In October my 4th Lonestar book ships. Lonestar Angel is my favorite in that series. I've also done something new and fun with my writing buds, Kristin Billerbeck, Denise Hunter, and Diann Hunt. It's a novel in four parts called Smitten. It's about four friends who decide to save their dying Vermont village by turning it into the romance capital of the world by playing off the town's name. The fun thing is that our characters have our own personalities!

I'm planning a new contemporary series right now too set in an imaginary town in North Carolina called Hope Beach. I'm excited about it too.

Thank you, Colleen, for sharing your great insights and writing tips. I'm writing notes on your SOTP approach and research. No wonder I can't figure out whodunnit as I'm reading! You keep yourself in suspense as well as the reader. :)

Question for Readers:  Have you read any of Colleen's novels? Which one is your favorite?

Question for Writers:  I thought Colleen's SOTP and research approaches were unique. Do you have some unusual research tips? Do you think you might try starting out with finding a setting for your characters before you get into the plot?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Jazz Up Your Writing

I'm not known as a wild and crazy fashionista. Classic outfits that remain in style for years are more to my taste.

Every now and then, I break out of the mold. How? Socks. It all started when I won two pairs of flashy footwear in a blog contest. I was hooked.

This alter ego thrives in the summer. I'll pair a tame shirt and pants with patterned socks. The first time I did this, the Women's Ministries' participants went into a fit of giggles. I may not look like I stepped off the pages of a magazine, but I made people laugh.

My wardrobe includes Christmas socks, heart socks, striped socks, and...drum roll please...cow socks! It's a modest, but effective assortment. I don't make wearing them a habit, but when I do, they have the desired effect.

All this frivolity made me think. Why not use the principle of the unexpected in my writing? A dash of humor in an otherwise serious piece lightens it and gives the reader a breather.

A word of caution here: not all publications are open to the chuckle factor. Get sample copies to discern whether or not they have a funny bone.

What are some ways you jazz up your writing?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #146

Michael Hyatt talks about, "Why I Stopped Reading Your Blog."

What are some reasons that cause you to lose interest in a blog?

Jennifer Brown Banks, at Pen and Prosper, talks about, "The Rebel Writer."

What writing rules get you crazy?

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Author Interview - Colleen Coble - Part I

Bio: Best-selling author Colleen Coble's novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, ACFW Book of the Year, RWA's RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, national REaders' Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers and is a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives with her husband, Dave, in Indiana. Visit her website at

1. Welcome to Christian Writer/Reader Connection, Colleen! How did you select romantic suspense as your genre?

Oh, I love suspense and mystery! I grew up on Nancy Drew and love that element in stories. And I'm also all about relationship. I love watching interactions between men and women.

2.  I noticed your books moved from a contemporary timeframe to a historical period. What influenced this switch?

My early books were prairie romance. I love history, and I asked my editor about doing a historical series that incorporated my love of suspense as well. It's been fun to go back to my roots, but I will likely never do historicals exclusively. I love normal romantic suspense too much to give it up.

3) You are one of the few authors who keeps me guessing about whodunnit. Where do you get your ideas?

The ideas come from everywhere! The Rock Harbor series came from an article in a hunting magazine, of all places! I was in a doctor's office, and there was nothing there to read but several hunting magazines. I was desperate though, so I  picked up one and ran across an article about search and rescue in Yellowstone. I thought it would be an interesting profession for my protagonist, and that series is one of my most popular. The Aloha Reef series came after watching a documentary about how the Navy was using dolphins to search for bombs during the first Iraqi war.

Question for Readers: When your favorite authors change genres, do you stick with them?

Question for Writers:  Colleen brought up interesting professions for her protagonists. How do you decide on your characters' career paths?

Next week, we'll continue with Part II of our interview with Colleen. She has an interesting approach to research.