Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #176

Jack Popjes guest posts at Novel Rocket (formerly Novel Journey). He tells an amazing story about a grandmother he met at a writers conference.

I loved this line: "The weakest ink lasts longer than the most powerful memory."

Are you writing down the answers to your prayers and sharing them with others?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

On My Nightstand - A River to Cross by Yvonne Harris

Elizabeth Evans moves to Texas to help her widowed brother with his newspaper and his little girl. Leaving Washington, D.C. and the memories of her late husband, she's excited about this new opportunity. What she gets is a different story. Her brother is murdered and she's kidnapped by the forces of General Manuel Diego.

In 1886, Texas is still a wild frontier. Jake Nelson serves as a Texas Ranger. In an area with few law enforcement personnel, the group provides protection from outlaws and handles problems. Jake obtains a photo of Elizabeth and sets out to rescue her.

I don't want to give away too much of the story, but it grabbed me from the first page. This story was a bucking bronco from start to finish. I loved it!

There's plenty of action, history, and romance. It also makes me happy I live now and not back then.

When you read historicals, do you wish you lived in that time period or are you satisfied you live in the present day?

Disclaimer: I won this book on Jaime Wright's blog. I received no remuneration from either the publisher or author for this review. The opinions, as always, are my own.

Monday, September 26, 2011

It All Adds Up

When I started my new job, the learning curve seemed overwhelming. I took copious notes to use as cheat sheets. Within a couple of weeks, the notes sat in my inbox untouched. What sent my mind on tilt when I began was now second nature. While I'm learning more advanced procedures, it no longer cramps my brain. I'm building on the knowledge I already possess.

We look at the elements that go into professional non-fiction and fiction and wonder if we'll ever get to the point where our work is publishable. Then, one day we submit a piece, and it's accepted.

Each step we take to improve our craft and learn the business side brings us closer to our goal of publication. Keep building upon the foundation you've laid. It all adds up to success.

Don't get discouraged or despair. Most of all, trust the Lord to help you absorb what's necessary and applicable to your writing life and to open the appropriate doors. Everyone's journey is different.

Do you have a word of encouragement for other writers? Let's make this a day of supporting those still in the newbie/intermediate stage.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #175

C.J. Darlington compiled a list of popular novels and their word counts. They ranged from 30,000 (Playng by Heart by Deborah Raney) to a whopping 199,000 (The Bones of Makaidos by Bryan Davis).

Writers: What's the target word count for your WIP?

Readers: Do you prefer shorter novels or the War and Peace variety?

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

On My Nightstand - An Accidental Family by Loree Lough

Nadine Greene is attracted to her neighbor, Lamont London. Yet, she's afraid to follow her heart. A widow, her marriage left scars, both physical and emotional. Can she get past her fears and experience true love?

Lamont London played the field after his wife died, but he couldn't reconcile his love for his late wife and remarriage. Circumstances throw him in the path of the lovely Nadine Greene.

This is the first book I've read by Loree Lough, and I enjoyed it. As a widow, I appreciated the sensitive exploration of the characters' feelings, turmoil, and confusion.

This Love Inspired book contained all the satisfying elements one looks for in a romance. At 215 pages, it's a quick read. I'd pick up another Loree Lough book in a heartbeat.

What's your favorite (past or current) love story?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Alphabet Fun

My friends, Jeanette Levellie, Diane Estrella, and Nancy inspired me to share a little about myself. If you want to do this exercise, jump right in either on your blog or a short version in the comments.

A. Age. Older than 20, but younger than 80.

B. Baked Goods. Chocolate Chip cookies and brownies.

C. Chore you hate. Cleaning my kitchen floor. Because of the design, I have to get down on my hands and knees.

D. Dogs. I like them, but they're too much work. I prefer cats.

E. Essential start to your day. Bible reading, journaling, and prayer.

F. Favorite color: Purple. (Jeanette can verify this.)

G. Gold or silver. I like gold, but silver is nice.

H. Height: 5' 6" I've shrunk a bit. With the longevity in my family, I could end up petite.

I.  Instruments you play. I took piano as a kid, but hated it.

J.  Job. Administrative Assistant. I love the work, the people, and the company.

K. Kids. Two grown stepsons and a daughter-in-law.

L.  Live. East Coast, USA

M. Mother. Still with me, Praise God!

N.  Nickname. Suze (pronounced Sooz, but sometimes Susie)

O.  Overnight hospital stay. Two that I'd prefer to forget.

P.  Pet peeve. People who don't clean up after their dogs.

Q. Quote. John 10:10. Yes, you'll have to look it up!

R.  Right or left. Right.

S.  Siblings. I'm the Lone Ranger (my Dad's words), but I have an honorary sister.

T.  Time you wake up. I wake up several times during the night, but I get up at 6:15 A.M.

U.  University you attended. The School of Hard Knocks (again, according to my Dad). I did graduate from Bible School and spent an additonal year at a second Bible School.

V.  Vegetable you dislike. Brussels Sprouts and asparagus. However, I do like broccoli.

W.  What makes you late? Digging my car out after a snowstorm.

X.  X-rays. It's a wonder I don't glow in the dark.

Y.  Yummy food. Spaghetti and meatballs with salad, black olives, and garlic bread.

Z.  Zoo animal favorite. Giraffe. I always remember my cousin's 2-year-old pointing to the markings and saying, "Boo-boo?"

Were you surprised by any of my answers?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #174

Do you want to make your scenes stronger? Lynnette Labelle, at Chatterbox Chitchat, shares some hints on crafting scenes with muscle.

I liked her suggestion to start a scene with a happy character, but have them leave feeling sad or angry. Which tip is your favorite?

Have a blessed weekend!

NEWS FLASH! Congrats to Jeanette Levellie! You're the winner of Carrie Turansky's book, "Seeking His Love."

Photo by: stroszko

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

On My Nightstand - Seeking His Love by Carrie Turansky & GIVEAWAY!

Rachel Clark moves to Fairhaven, Washington to get a fresh start. She loves her new job directing a Christian Theater Group for kids.

When the group has to move or face closing down, she locates a building that houses an artist cooperative. She gets more than she bargained for when she meets one of its influencial members.

Cam McKenna's work consumes him. He can forget about the past and live in the moment. Women and children don't fit into his life.

When two wounded people meet, sparks fly. Will the fire warm them or consume them?

Author Carrie Turansky writes a sweet love story with enough surprises to hold the reader's attention. I liked how she developed her characters and chose a real-life setting.

At 214 pages, it's a quick, satisfying read for a chilly evening. I enjoyed it and hope you will too.

Disclaimer: I picked this book up from the Freebie tables at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. I have not received any remuneration from the publisher or author. The opinions expressed are my own.

It's been awhile since I did a giveaway. Here are the rules:

1) You must be a Follower to enter.

2) This one will be a FLASH giveaway. It starts at 12:01 A.M., 9/14/11, and ends 11:59 P.M., 9/15/11.

3)  Leave a comment on this post with your email address. Sorry, no email = no entry.

4)  The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and is void where prohibited. Winners take all responsibility for their eligibility.

5)  The winner will be announced at the end of the Friday Round-Up Post on 9/16/11 and notified by email.

Writers: Do you think it's harder to write a short novel or novella than a full-length book? Have you ever written the short version? If so, tell us about your experience developing a theme with fewer words.

Readers: What is your preference? A full-length book or a shorter novel you can read in a day or two? Tell us why.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Care & Feeding of Writers

When I worked full time days and went to Bible School full-time nights, I existed on cold cereal and TV dinners. In moderation, these items are fine, but on a daily basis, they don't come close to a balanced diet. My body let me know I'd better consume fruit, veggies, and protein. Without them, my energy levels and sense of well being almost disappeared.

The writer also needs a balanced diet:

1) Come out of the writing cave and breathe in the beauties of God's creation. Fresh air and sunshine make for a happier, upbeat attitude.

2) Read wholesome, well-written books in a variety of genres. You know the saying with computers, "garbage in, garbage out." If you want to write well, read material that exposes you to quality writing. It's way too easy to pick up bad habits.

3) Live your life. Those babies won't be babies forever. Those children will someday leave the nest. Pour into them and enjoy them while you can. Treasure your mate, your extended family, and your friends. Your experiences will enrich your writing.

4) Exercise. While soaking in the colors, sounds, and sights of nature, get those muscles working. The blood flow to your brain will sharpen your writing and attention to detail.

5) Spend time with God. I'm a morning person, so the first thing I do is journal, read my Bible, and pray. He often gives me insights that guide me through any rough spots I'll face throughout my day. Often, I'll find inspiration for my writing, as well as for my life.

What are some of the things you do to "feed the writer within?"

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #173

Janalyn Voight, at Author Haven, provides a proofreading checklist. I don't know about you, but I can sure use this.

Writers: Have you gone through your manuscript umpteen times, and still find mistakes? What steps do you take to present a clean copy to editors/agents?

Readers: Do you get aggravated when you come across misspellings and other errors in a book? Does it cause you to abandon the story or do you forge ahead?

NEWSFLASH! My friend, Maria Morgan, of Life Lessons, and several other women are starting a Monday through Saturday Devotional Page on Facebook. It's called, "Living By Grace." It will launch on Monday, September 12, 2011.

The writers are Joanne Sher, Maria I. Morgan, Jessica R. Patch, Lynda Schultz, Patty Wysong, and Jennifer Slattery. Hop over to their Facebook page today, and say "hello." And grab your Bibles and join them on Monday for the official launch of Living by Grace!

Have a great weekend!

Photo credit: nkzs

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

On My Nightstand - Broken Wings by Carla Stewart

Two women deal with the realities of life. Mitzi Steiner volunteers as a Pink Lady at the local hospital and visits her husband, Gabe, in a nursing home. Brooke Woodson finally has a boyfriend at age 30. She's the envy of many single women, and her family adores him. Too bad, he has a temper.

An accident causes the paths of these ladies to intersect, and their lives are changed forever. The author handles sensitive subjects without diluting the powerful emotions involved. This story touches on issues common to many women, while showing how God uses relationships to help us see truth.

Carla Stewart is a new author to me, but I'm looking forward to reading more of her work. This book sat on my TBR pile for a long time. Little did I know there was a gem hidden in my stack.

Have you read any books lately that took you by surprise?

Monday, September 5, 2011

What I Learned On My Summer Vacation

I spent summer immersed in preparation for the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference, which took place August 10-13. Below are a few points I gleaned from this year's workshops:

1) From Cec Murphey's Continuing Session, "Dancing With Dialogue" - Good dialogue should be 30% of a book. Tease, hint, but don't tell the whole story. Don't tell readers what they already know. When you read dialogue that's good, write it down. It will help you recognize and learn how to write it.

2) Nicole Resciniti, from the Seymour Agency - Conflict is the core of a novel. It's about eliciting emotion. Without conflict, there is no emotion. Without emotion, there is no story.

3) Kathi Macias (During an editor panel) - Social Media is essential to being a successful writer. When her books stalled years ago, her editor told her if she wanted to continue writing and selling books, she had to use Social Media. She took his advice, and her career moved forward.

4) I can't recall where I heard this, but in one workshop we were told that contractions (don't, can't, etc.) did not appear in writing until the 1800's. So, if you're writing a historical prior to that time, don't use them.

5) Kathy Macias' workshop on The Train of Thought method of writing - If you're on topic and on target, you'll be on time. Decide who you're writing to and what you want to write. I loved this class and plan to invest in her book.

These points are mere snippets of what I learned. I loved this conference and encourage you to look into attending it next year.

What are some of the writing tips or advice you've garnered from attending a conference? Readers: Do you like getting a behind-the-scenes look at what writers go through to get published?

Photo Credit: absolutlil

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #172

Jean Fischer, over at In The Compost Pile, blogs on the colors of heaven. She also gives her impressions of several books about our home country. :)

Have a blessed weekend!

Photo credit: BA969 - The Stock Exchange