Wednesday, June 29, 2011

On My Nightstand - A Heart Most Worthy by Siri Mitchell

Julietta, Annamaria, and Luciana meet at Madame Fortier's Gown Shop. Each girl deals with adjustments to life in America and the hard realities of prejudice.

The passionate Julietta wants excitement and love. Why keep the old ways in a new country?

Annamaria is destined to serve her family. Yet, her desire is for marriage and children of her own.

Luciana. Ah, Luciana. The lovely daughter of the Count of Rome has now fallen on hard times. She walks in the shadows, afraid for her life. Will she ever have the love and acceptance she took for granted before fate stepped in?

Siri Mitchell's story is definitely character driven. While there is plot and action, the internal motivations and character development take front and center. The omniscient point of view worked although it took some mental gymnastics on my part. It's not my favorite.

No one will ever say this book is a "me too" novel. Siri's style and voice are fresh and completely her own. If you're a big cover fan, you'll love this one. I wouldn't mind owning that dress!

The setting, the timeframe, the language, and the historical details all pulled me in and made me forget I'm living in 2011. I think you'd find it a thought provoking, romantic read.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Of Purses, Plots, and Prioritizing - Part II

By now, all of you know I am a Seat-of-the-Pants writer. Yet, with my latest WIP I'm getting a little wistful...about plotting.

Knowing what's coming up in a story has advantages. Research targeted toward a specific storyline is much easier than covering an entire subject from A to Z. Characters' personalities can be crafted to match a plot-driven novel.

Karen Lange, of Write Now, and I embarked on this adventure a few months ago. Yes, we're collaborating on a novel. We've both wondered at times whether we'd lost our sanity, but things are beginning to chug along.

The Method


We decided on a genre (a secret for now), timeframe (American Colonial period), and characters. Then, we turned the whole kit and caboodle loose.

I wrote the first chapter. From there, we take turns, building upon what the other writes. We never know what twist, turn, or dilemma will surprise us when we receive the latest installment.


As Susan mentioned, we alternate writing the chapters. I think this is a great way to share the responsibility. We have each done/continue to do different aspects of research, and both bring a different yet similar skill set to the project. It's a wonderful way to blend our writing styles and bring an interesting angle to the book.

The Difficulties


The biggest difficulty for me is the loss of momentum when it's Karen's turn to write a chapter. There's no way to mull over my next move because I have no idea what she's written. As a pantser, my brain feeds off what I've written previously. We're both adjusting to this rhythm although we need to pick up the pace.


We can plan ahead in generalities, but not specifics from chapter to chapter. You just never know what is going to happen. It is hard to think ahead on what we each might write. Overall, the frustration is offset by the excitement. Even though we brainstorm, the plot surprises make things interesting.

For example, I added a character in Chapter 2. She just popped up and will serve us well later. Then Susan used her for a scene in Chapter 3 that had me laughing out loud. Although we face difficulties a single author might not, we get to enjoy feedback and more specific help as we go along.

The Disagreements


Uh-oh. Early on, Karen and I had an alternate vision for an event in Chapter 2. We emailed back and forth, debating the issue. Finally, a research book I'd purchased gave us the answers we needed.

There's a lot of trust involved in taking on a project like this. It's a marriage of sorts and contains the elements of communication and working things out. (And prayer!)


We discuss the issue, examine it from different angles as necessary, and make a decision. Some of this involves more research, so we check into it and go from there. We are trusting God for wisdom along the way. I'm not concerned that any issues won't be resolved.

Susan here. So now you know what Karen and I have kept under wraps for several months...a collaborative effort on a novel. We'd appreciate your prayers.

Have you ever attempted a team writing project? We'd love to hear your experiences and tips.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #162

Emily Akin, at Blog4Writers, reprinted by permission an article entitled, "Don't Stop Writing."

If you're fighting the desire to just chuck the whole writing thing, you'll find ideas and inspiration here.

Do you have bouts when you want to quit pursuing publication? How do you handle them?

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

On My Nightstand - Fairer Than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott

Ann Miller takes her responsibilities for her father and young sisters to heart. Every time he embarks on a preaching journey, she's tormented by fears for his safety. Losing one parent is bad enough, but the thought of anything happening to him is too awful to contemplate.

Several young men come into her life, all captivated by her character, beauty, and grace. Her father wants her to choose a husband, so she'll have security and a family. Yet, something holds her back. Besides the precious children she's raised almost from birth, Ann knows this decision could affect the course of her entire life.

I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book. Fellow-blogger, Rosslyn Elliott, shared her journey to publication with us. Her skillful use of setting and characterization kept me enthralled. When I could read only for short stretches, the frustration grated on me. How dare anything interrupt this tale!

Rosslyn has a bright future as an author. Perhaps the true test of an author is whether or not they leave you wanting more. In this case, I want more. :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Of Purses, Plots, and Prioritizing - Part I


Nancy, over at Boomers, Scribblers, and Saints, did a post on what type of handbag she likes and asked us what we preferred. You can find her link on my blogroll.

While this purse's size might be described as generous, it doesn't come close to the one I carry around. At a recent Women's Ministries' meeting, a friend called it, "a duffle bag." I admit it. Carrying a big purse gives me a sense of security. Everything is at my fingertips from my wallet to the bandaids floating in its murky depths.

So what does my giant carryall have to do with writing? At the same meeting, we played a game. Seven items were placed in a purse. We had to reach in and identify each one by touching them. Pulling them out or peeking inside was a no-no. (This had a spiritual application: purse-verance, etc.) The exercise gave me an idea. Why not use this fun activity as a way to describe textures and shapes? It's a great way to sharpen your senses and ability to describe objects.

Think about your next writers' group party. A scratchy piece of burlap, a cuddly stuffed animal, a metallic item, or any other shape/texture you can think of will fire the brain cells. Split the group into teams or play individually. A prize could be provided for those who identify all the items.

What other games have you played to hone your writing skills? Any ideas? Let's get creative.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #161

Laurel, over at Laurel's Leaves, defines and demystifies misplaced modifiers. Now, there's a mouthful! I always learn a lot from her. Do you struggle with this grammar pitfall?

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

On My Nightstand - Texas Roads by Cathy Bryant

Dani Davis bears the scars of an unhappy marriage, death of loved ones, and a troubled relationship with her mother. She's always longed to feel at home.

A visit to a long-lost aunt and a tiny town causes hope to spark, but can she deal with the lack of privacy and suspicion of outsiders? They eventually embrace her until a devastating event.

Steve Miller has lived in Miller's Creek all his life. After a romance comes to a tragic end, he manages to avoid holy matrimony.

Secrets, small-town gossip, and a community that works together form the backbone of the plot. Cathy is an excellent storyteller. My Mom read the book and informed me she wants the next one. I fully concur with her evaluation.

I'm looking forward to watching this author grow. I'll definitely purchase the next book in the Miller Creek series.

What determines whether or not you'll pick up another book by an author: excellent storytelling, perfect craft, dynamic characters?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Drifting Along

Isn't this a peaceful scene? I can almost hear the water lapping against the rowboat. There's one drawback to the picture. The boat isn't going anywhere.

Sometimes I get all dreamy about my writing, but I've left my oars in the boathouse. Oh, it's not deliberate. Other things capture my attention. They're all good, but my writing boat isn't moving toward its goal.

It doesn't take much to stop writing. No cataclysmic decision need occur. Distractions, neglect, and busy-ness rob us of our momentum.

If we want to go somewhere with publication, it takes effort and attention. Are you drifting or are you fully engaged in moving toward your destination?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Winner!

Congratulations to KAREN LANGE! You are the winner of Deeanne Gist's book, "Maid to Match." I've emailed you. As soon as you send me your snail mail address, I'll get your book out.

Thanks to all who participated. Watch for more giveaways in the coming months.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #160

Janalyn Voight, at Author Haven, interviews Marc Schooley. They talk about a subject near and dear to my heart: Seat-of-the-Pants writing.

If you're a plotter, have you ever tried SOTP writing.

All of you SOTP writers, do you have any insights to share on how you write?

Janalyn Voight, at Author Haven, gives 7 tips on writing tense crisis scenes.

#4 got me. I should do a search for words like "nodded" and "shrugged." I'm sure I use them too often.

How about you? Is there a particular point on her list that nailed your shoes to the floor?

A few weeks ago, we had a Laurel Garver week. This is officially "Janalyn Voight" week. :) Congrats, Janalyn. Your posts keep me thinking.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The "Just Because" Giveaway

My late husband liked to bring me little gifts and flowers "just because." I'd clean out his small Igloo cooler and find a Hershey bar tucked inside. If he worked in Amish country, he'd bring home a chocolate shoofly pie or some other treat.

Today, I'm bringing my Followers a special "just because" giveaway. I appreciate your faithfulness. If  you're not already a Follower, a simple click on the button will remedy that situation. :)

Deeanne Gist is a well-known author in Christian circles. I enjoyed her book, "Maid to Match," and want to share it with one of you. Below are the giveaway rules:

1. Comment on this post, telling about a "just because" gift or surprise you've received.

2. Your email address must be in the comment. Sorry, no email equals no entry.

3. The contest is open to Followers of Christian Writer/Reader Connection in the U.S. only due to our laws and is void where prohibited.

4. Neither the author nor the publisher provided this book or paid for a review.

5. Deadline: Saturday, June 11, 2011, at midnight. The winner will be emailed on Sunday, June 12, 2011, and announced on the blog sometime that day.

Let's have some fun with this and count our "just because" blessings.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Execution - Not To Be Confused With Capital Punishment

Execution occurs after vision and planning. While not to be confused with capital punishment, some writers view the process as similar. Descriptions like, "opening a vein," abound.

Here the writer gets down to business. Serious bottom-in-chair time takes precedence over things like eating and sleeping. Crafting that perfect sentence and selecting the word that will transport the reader into the story world becomes a consuming passion. The writer is the captain of the ship and steers the story.

During this time, emotional highs and lows occur with unbearable frequency. The paragraph worthy of a Pulitzer Prize, or at least an honorable mention in a writing contest, ends up on the editing floor the next morning.

This is where the writer hits the Writers Support Group Network. Now, don't go Googling the term because I made it up this minute. Loosely translated, it's the part where the struggling writer seeks out those, who are a few steps ahead of him/her on the journey.

Family and friends may roll their eyes, but other writers will nod and declare, "Been there. Here's what I do." At this juncture, I'm stopping to salute all my writer/blogging/critiquing friends for their empathy.

"Ah, what about Echoes of the Past?" Having skipped step two (planning), Echoes went through a gazillion edits and two major re-writes. Even though I have written, "the end," I know an agent or editor will want more changes down the road. The title is now, "The Moses Conspiracy," which I'm happy to report, everyone likes. Now, if I could only get some brave agent and editor to take up the fight for publication, I'd be a happy woman.

Although The Moses Conspiracy was supposed to be a single volume, the story still begged me to write more. I started book two, thinking the original main characters would remain the focus. A secondary character had different ideas and became insistent. This time, I did more research and fleshed out the characters before writing. It's still in rough draft form with a working title of, "The Scent of Fear."

Book three, "Lost and Found," is in its infancy at a mere 6,000 words. I've put it aside for now. Until the first book finds a home, I'm not sure I want to invest more time on the trilogy.

What would you add, if anything, to my three-part process of Vision, Planning, and Execution?

Readers: Did you ever think writing was such a complicated endeavor? Have you ever attempted writing a novel?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #159

Occasionally, I like to highlight my Blogger friends. Dena Netherton and I met through Facebook less than a year ago. I appreciate her insightful writing. In this post, she simply states, "Because I'm Family."

Another Blogger friend, Kristen Johnson at, Adventures of History Girl, gives us the story of Cheerios. If you're writing a novel set in the 1940's, you'll find some interesting facts and food for the breakfast table.

When you do research, how much time and effort do you spend on food?

Hmm, I'm hungry now. I think I'll have some Honey Nut Cheerios. Oh...before I forget...have a great weekend, and don't skip the most important meal of the day. :)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

On My Nightstand - Courting Miss Amsel by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Edythe Amsel finally sees her dreams coming true. As the schoolmarm in Walnut Hill, she can enjoy molding young minds. Reality hits hard when several parents fight against her newfangled teaching methods.

Her troubles escalate as the town's eligible bachelors seek to court her. Determined to make a life for herself, she resists their attentions. Only Joel Townsend doesn't chase her. His tenderness and friendship catch her by surprise, but courting would ruin her future plans.

Taking care of his orphaned nephews and running a farm keep Joel busy. Hurt by a former love interest, he's not ready to put his heart on the line...until Miss Amsel catches his eye.

Kim Vogel Sawyer's books always leave me with that "ahhh" ending. Her stories have strong spiritual themes and emphasize putting God first in daily life. She's become a favorite here at Christian Writer/Reader Connection.

If you like warm and fuzzy, you'll love this book. I highly recommend it.