Monday, August 11, 2014

Friday, August 1, 2014

Staycations Are the Best

This week has been a staycation for my husband and I. We've relaxed more this week than probably all year put together. The kids are at camp and my husband managed to get most of the week off.

I do have an admission to make. No writing got done. It's worth the extra work I'll have to do to make up the time, too.

Painting with Acrylics
Want to know what I've been up to? Here's some pictures to give you an idea.

We also went up to the mountains for a BBQ and watched lots of TV.

I'll be so excited to see my kids, but this staycation has been amazing.
I painted this in one night.
This puzzle is a real challenge.
Faith Departed by Elizabeth Maddrey has be a great read.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Winner of the Kindle fire Announced

I wanted to thank everyone who participated in the Spirit-Filled Kindle giveaway.

Thanks to all of you, I gained over 100 more likes on my Facebook Author Page.

Janice Whittemore of Cookeville Tennessee is the blessed winner of the promotional giveaway I did with a group of other talented writers. Congratulations Janice.

Hope you enjoy it. I love mine.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Brainstorming Strategy

Writing a book isn't easy. Writing a book that's going to rise above the rest is even harder. We ask ourselves all the time how we're going to make it happen. What makes a story different?

When I sat at the lunch table with Steve Laube at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, he told a story that surprised me. He was talking about another conference he'd been to. One of his agent buddies had been holding a paper under the table. When he asked what he was doing, the friend said he was marking each storyline he'd heard during the appointments scheduled that day.

I was shocked when I heard his account. Every story that I would've thought had an interesting plot line had as many as seven tallies beside it.

What could a writer do if all the great ideas were not only being pitched in scores at writers conferences, but were considered unoriginal?

He got me thinking. How do we write something new and fresh, something so different no one has written about it or written in the same context?

That same week, for the first time, I had a brainstorming session with a group of friends and new people. This session solidified the importance of brainstorming. Getting together with a few people you trust to throw ideas around can make the difference between a good story and an amazing one that'll stand out from the piles of manuscripts agents and publishing houses get every day.

If you don't have a group of friends or a writers group that can help, don't worry. You can do it on your own.
  • Start by listing the story idea you have in mind, act by act, point by point.
  • On paper, create branches from each major point.
  • Write all the possibilities of directions the story can go at that point.
  • Raise the stakes by picking outcomes that have a twist on the usual character or situation.
  • Pick the next major point you want to feed through your story.
  • Branch this one out as well, coming up with all possible outcomes.
  • Raise the stakes again.
Cut out each outcome and twist so that you can organize and reorganize them into the pattern that works best. Keep branching out and raising the stakes all the way to the end of your storyline and you've got a winner.

Keep in mind, if you've read it before, you probably need to brainstorm some more until it's so different you can't think of a book like it.

Have you had any brainstorming sessions? How'd they work for you?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Surprising Resource for Writers

Tonight's a great night to give you a few quick tips on finding the right names for your novel's characters. I love to get little tidbits of information that make my life easier in the writing game, so I hope this helps you the way it helped me.

Picking names for characters is a very important part of your work. I used to love to come up with these crazy names that were unique and special to me. It was fun to dig around into different ethnic groups to choose just the right one. The problem became the ability for readers, well really editors and agents, to pronounce them. I didn't see how they could have such a hard time, but they were working for the masses, not some word artist.

I also had to admit that people relate time periods to certain names. Crazy names don't fit into any specific time period, and I write contemporary romance.

I had to scale back the craziness. In my search for baby names I found a great website: http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/#ht=1.

You may be surprised to see what this data base is. It's the Social Security Administration that has become such a great resource to me. This site allows you to pick names by the popularity and year. After scrolling through the site, I couldn't believe how much easier name picking became.

Now I decide how old my character is and put the year into the search window. I also like to raise the viewing number to the top 100 names. This gives me the top names in the country for that year.

You may still want to use a unique name for your main characters, but try this resource for the rest of them. You'll wonder how you lived without this website once you start.

What resources have you discovered for names? I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Winner to be Announced

WinaKindle1It's been a very successful Kindle fire giveaway. I want to thank everyone who participated. There were over a hundred new likes to my Author page with Facebook, and that's a huge boost for me. I'm so thankful for everyone who's helped me develop my platform so far. I can't wait to hear who the winner is in the next few days.


As writers we are constantly hearing how important it is to keep building our platform. That of course involves lots of social media. Lots of social media means a load of time not devoted to our writing. But, we must do it to make it in this world. I'm plunging in to learn more, develop my blog, and build those ever important relationships with my readers and friends in the publishing world.

I hope to have a lot more giveaways through this year to promote Memphis Learns the Hard Way, too.

Stay tuned for what's coming next.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Kindle Fire Giveaway: Like my Author Page on Facebook to Enter

I'm doing a promotion this week with the amazing Pauline Creeden at Spirit Filled Kindle to get some more exposure for my Author page on Facebook and my children's book. Come check it out and like my Author page to enter the giveaway. The prize is a Kindle Fire.

WinaKindle1

Here's the link to enter the giveaway: http://wp.me/p3q2vs-268.


I have a Kindle Fire HD, and it's wonderful. Amazon makes it so easy to buy books with it. I love the touch screen capability and the apps that can be purchased for it. I even used it at the conference to take notes using a word doc app my husband bought and installed on it through Amazon.

And check out the book I illustrated, Memphis Learns the Hard Way.


 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Life Changer

Last week I was blessed to be able to get LASIK surgery on my eyes. It's been many years coming, let me tell you. You can imagine my excitement when the doctor took my glasses off for the last time right before my surgery. It was very surreal.

Waiting to go to surgery.
I've worn glasses since I was nine, and had contacts on and off in my life, but I wanted a more permanent fix. If you've never worn glasses, you probably don't get why it's such a big deal. But it's a huge deal. There've been so many times I've dropped my glasses at night and couldn't find them. I've walked into walls, tripped, and slipped when I tried to make a quick run to the bathroom or ventured to the kitchen to get something in the middle of the night. How about that fog that hits your glasses when you open the oven and momentarily blinds you? In the winter a different type of fog shields your view when you go from hot to cold. Even my depth perception has been off at times.

Now that's all gone. I'm still healing and seeing the typical halos at night and some general fogginess, but life's already looking up.

Right After Surgery
I did make the mistake of thinking I'd be back to normal in 24-48 hours. Instead, the surgery put me a week behind on my manuscript and critique group work. Sorry everyone. Still, I'm limited to the time I can spend in front of the computer. But, each day is better and better. Thanks be to God for the blessing of great eyesight. If you're thinking about LASIK, go for it. It's a life changer. 





Thursday, June 19, 2014

My Aunt, My Inspiration

The Story of Highland Mary Book 1
My Aunt Debbie was always a wonderful aunt whom I looked up to, who went out of her way to do lots of little things for me when I was growing up and still today. But the best thing she ever did was be an inspiration.

She started a book forty-some years ago and worked on it a little at a time. We always wondered about this story. She was always a writer to us, one of those prestigious people you look up to. She was one of the reasons I even considered writing in the beginning.

She kept her story buried in a hiding spot that we were on a constant search for when I visited and she wasn't home.

The Story of Highland Mary Book 2

Once, my cousin found it. We waited for just the right moment, and pulled it out to get a peek at the woven tale that enthralled the woman we loved. We read a snippet here, a page there. But, she got home before we could get too far.

My cousin raced to put it back in its secret spot, and with moments to spare, we sat and pretended to be doing nothing
in particular. She never caught on. And, we wouldn't read another page for twenty some years.

The Story of Highland Mary Book 3

It wasn't until a little over a year ago that my aunt handed it to me to read for the first time. I couldn't believe I'd finally get a chance to see it. With excitement, I opened the binder it was in and I wasn't disappointed. It is a true epic tale, one that I still think about and mull over long after reading the last sentence.

That story was released May 31; a trilogy about a brave Scots woman who led an amazing life. I call it an epic tale, a best-seller if only it can get into the right hands.

Check out this amazing story. Once you get into it, you won't be able to put it down.











Thursday, June 5, 2014

Every Writer Needs a Muse

"Muse me." That's what I always say to my husband when I need him to help with fresh ideas for my manuscripts. He's the greatest idea giver I know. And, my writing wouldn't be the same without him. That's why I call him my muse.

Do you have a muse? That one person who feeds your imagination and helps you see things in a way you'd never considered before?

Lots of famous writers and artists have depended on them for centuries. From Shakespeare to Monet, they thrived on the imaginations and figures of their muses. Though they often keep them a secret from the general public, they need them and use them to the greatest depths of their capabilities.

Muses are capable of:
  • Crazy advice on plot that might just work           
  • Sometimes bringing you back to earth when your ideas are a little over the top (or a lot over the top)
  • Showing you facts that could add another dimension to your story
  • Fleshing out a character's motives
  • Listening to you rave without comment
And so many more great things a writer needs to keep them sane and busily typing at their computer.

So how do you get one? It's not easy. These are people you have to trust. And surprisingly, they aren't usually writers or artist themselves. The best ones can not only give advice, but listen as well. They are someone vested in your future. They should be someone who knows you pretty well; who understands when you can't take their advice. And, they should tend to be available at odd hours. Our inspirations and lack there of come at odd times, right?

Find your muse. Trust them. Build a deeper relationship with them. It's a relationship worth nourishing.



Thursday, May 29, 2014

Research: The Importance of Knowing Your Setting

I got back from Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference excited and invigorated to get started on my next novel. The general idea for the story had been culminating in my brain for months, and I was ready to begin last weekend.
But I had one very important step to do first: Research.

It all began with the general feel I wanted to portray. And I wanted to be able to travel to the town, so it had to be pretty close to home. When I went on the Internet, I knew right away where the location should be set. It was evident that Staunton, Virginia had everything I needed to create the world in my novel.

Our first stop was the Woodrow Wilson Museum and birthplace. I wanted to get the feel for museum life in a busy town. This museum covered a span of time from the 1850's to the 1920's, all of Presidents Wilson's life.  Our 28th president led a very interesting life. I was privileged to talk to the curator after our tour, and he was very resourceful. Note to you writers, talk to all the professional people you can when researching. They love to share.

Staunton has a lot of old world charm with its beautiful churches scattered virtually on every corner of the older part of town. The houses loomed on hills and plazas because of the surrounding mountains. And, they echoed of bygone times where architects cared about the uniqueness of each house.





Downtown, we visited West Beverly Street with all its art and antiques and fantastic architectural ingenuity. The Wharf, around the train depot, beckoned us to its air of chicness.




And of course I had to explore Thornrose Cemetery. Who knew such beautiful yet eerie bridges and mausoleums could grace such a cold and dark rainy day as today. I can just imagine something sinister happening under the craggy trees and marble head stones of this location in my current WIP.


 
 
We concluded the day with the looming Western State Hospital, a lunatic asylum. It is now closed, but a great location to set a thriller in motion. We couldn't get too close because it's restricted, but it was so fun to try to get pictures of the foreboding boarded up building.


We had a blast on this research trip. I can't wait to go back. This trip created a three dimensional setting in my mind that will help my story seem more real to my readers when it translates onto paper. I'm so glad I could take this trip to enhance my work. If at all possible, take little trips and find cool locations to help you visualize your book's location. You'll be glad you did.

Where have you been for your research?


 

Monday, May 19, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour

Thanks to a dear writing friend, Kate Hodges, I have the opportunity to share in a world blog tour to talk about my writing process. Check out her blog at htttp://katehodges690.wordpress.com when you get a chance. It's full of amazing stories in the perspective of those touched by Jesus' miracles. Her book, The Other Side of Miracles, opened my eyes to the reality of life for those handicapped physically and emotionally during Jesus' day.

We were asked to answer a few questions so here goes:


What am I working on?

I'm in the middle of rewriting a manuscript I started about four years ago. It sat on my shelf for quite a long time until I couldn't ignore the call of God's voice to pick it up and fix it. I believe that no manuscript of mine should languish on a shelf, never to see light. For this reason, I buckled down and pulled from the depths of my soul and all the knowledge I'd gained over the years to redo this story. Why else would God have given it to me to begin with? So the journey began. I cried, I pleaded for mercy, even hid in every way possible before I broke out my trusty computer for the rewrite (You should see the massive restraint that kept me in my seat so I'd accomplish this monumental task!). And now, it's oh so close to being completed with the help of an editor.

How does my work differ from others in the same genre?

I love to make characters who are unsure of themselves, a little bumbly, yet capable of learning to grow into wonderful people who can stand on their own two feet once they've overcome major obstacles. This gives my novels a bit of quirkiness in a fun-loving way. But sometimes I do manage to write serious works too.

Why do I write what I do?

When God wants you to do something, it's best to do it. Don't think I haven't questioned Him the whole way through this writing journey. Sometimes it's a daily task. But, I know I'm on the right track for my Savior. I hope to encourage my readers to let go of past hurts and sins, and move forward to the wonderful plan God has for them.

How does my writing process work?

I'm one of those plotters who has to make extensive outlines. I have outlines for characters, places, the plot, and anything else pertinent to the storyline. As I work I fill in the plot outline with specific page numbers and details. This has served me well over the years when I have to go back and make changes.

I read Writing the Breakout Novel workbook, by Donald Maass, which has been instrumental in transforming my writing. I plan to use it on every novel I write to pick it apart and develop my story to its fullest potential.

Thanks for stopping by. Catch Nancy Bolton next Monday, May 19, as this world blog tour continues. She's an amazing critique partner of mine that I've come to appreciate beyond measure.

Nancy BoltonNancy Bolton is a Christian writer who loves the Lord. Her portfolio includes poetry, song lyrics, short stories, non-fiction and fiction works. Women's fiction is her latest endeavor, and she writes quite the variety from contemporary and historical romance to fantasy. Above all, she strives to show how God changes human lives in both the huge and tiny ways. Soon to be published in September, The Right Ingredients by Prism Book Group! View her blog at http://boltonnancy.com/ .

  Amryn Cross is another one of my critique partners who's allowed me to cross reference her week for the blog tour. Amryn Cross (Amory Cannon) is a writer of Christian romance and suspense as well as young adult. With a blend of dust and shadows, all of her books contain the message of grace and the love of God. Her debut novel, Learning to Die will be released in September 2014 by Desert Breeze Publishing. See what she has to say about her writing process at amryncross.com.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Blog Tour Date Set


I'm going to be doing The Writing Process Blog Tour on Monday, May 19. Stay tuned to see what my writing process is next week.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Secret Garden

Even though I'm a winter lover, there's nothing like the spring when flowers start to climb out of the earth and bushes bloom. It's been so exciting to see my yard come to life this year since it is my first spring at my new house. I didn't know what to expect, and wondered if there would even be any flowers at all. I should've known God had something special for me. He took the desires of my heart and gave me the secret garden, hidden in the back corner of my property, I always wanted. He remembered how I longed for one to match the  book I read during those glorious days of my youth.

It's been just like The Secret Garden, discovering what lays hidden under a thick undergrowth of ground coverage. I'm discovering a brick path. I haven't found the end of it yet. I wonder where it leads. Then there are the Greek style planters here and there. These too have ivy draped over and around them. You can make out the shapes, but can't quite see them. And, I uncovered a white azalea bush just this evening. It'd been covered with some type of climbing weed that almost covered the entire thing. It seemed to sigh with relief once I was finished pulling out the weeds. There are three huge trees that shade almost the entire area. Lily leaves and hostas poke up everywhere, too. Daffodils and hyacinths already bloomed in beautiful colors on the edge the garden.

This wonderful place reminds me of my walk with God. The brick trail shows me where to step, but just enough that I have to lean on Him to go in the right direction. The covered planters are the areas of my life I need to clean out and refill with His Word. And the cool shade of the trees reminds me of the shelter He provides in the heat of life.

But, the best part to me is discovering all the flowers that have been hidden by winter and are getting ready to bloom. This is the perfect symbol of God's plan for me. I might not always know what He has in mind, but He'll be there to surprise me with something beautiful like the color of the lilies that I can't wait to see, or the new purple flowers that started blooming the other week.

I bet He has something wonderful and surprising for you too.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Thankful Note

I have some amazing fellow writers I am blessed to call friends. They've been such an encouragement to me through this writing journey. They've shown their care for me in some amazing ways.

My critique partners are so faithful to work on my submissions. I know how much they put into the group, and they're much appreciated. I've seen all of our work blossom and bloom over the past year and a half. We need each other. I'm so thankful that God put us together. Blessings to you all.

I've also come across some writers through ACFW that have given me invaluable help with proposals and edits, and even sent me information on upcoming conferences and contests. One friend gave me a reference to her agent. That was a very selfless thing to do. They've contributed to important stepping stones on my walk to the finish line of getting published.

Two different conference leaders gave me books on learning the craft of writing. They've been invaluable tools that I've used to come along on my journey even more.

This is my prayer to you all, one of thankfulness.

 2 Thessalonians 4:1 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith growth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;

We must work together in the writing world. It's a tough one even though we're in the Christian book business. Thank you all so much for your willingness to put me in your prayers and thoughts, too. This is living life for Christ:furthering others, working together, and helping when you didn't have to.




Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bungee Cord Jump Writers Take

It's been a great week in the aftermath of the one day conference I attended last Saturday. As a writer, I love to be with other writers. They share the same passion and struggles as I do. They understand what it's like to be up late working on a manuscript or to miss meals because you can't get away from the computer.

Of all the professions for God to put me in, He chose a hard one. This writing thing can make you crazy. It can make you jump for joy one minute and cry the next. It's kind of like being on a bungee cord. One minute you're tumbling to the ground. You're skirting death, but then it could be just one more second from springing to the heights of heaven.


Most of the time people survive these jumps, but the burden of not knowing if we will for those five seconds puts you on the edge. So too is writing. We ask ourselves will we make it, will the cord, that's God, keep us from a free fall to doom, or will it snap and plummet us to the pit of never being published.

I believe that if we're in God's will and we push forward, keep making those jumps, He'll direct us away from treacherous rocks and back into the sky of the publishing world.

Of course that means we have to strive forward. We need to keep listening to our instructors about the publishing world, learn how to tie on our harness of good grammar and remember our helmet of faith through these trying days.

Don't forget the importance of connecting with other writers as I mentioned before. Whether you're a Facebooker, Twitterer, Blogger make sure you're reaching out and building relationships. Those connections can open a whole new world for you in the writing world.

So dear readers...jump.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lancaster Writers Conference and a Book Signing too

It's been a very busy week. Tomorrow night I'm doing a book signing with Karla at a fundraiser event at a local private school. It was great to be able to tie the assembly we had last week into this event. God works these things out for us, and I'm so thankful for it.

Then I'm headed to Lancaster for a one day writers conference. I'm so excited and thankful to Lynellen Perry for letting me stay with her the night before.  And to top it all off, she's doing the driving to the conference.

It's going to be a great day of learning. One thing I love about writers groups and conferences is surrounding myself with people who are working hard and going through the same things I am. Every nugget of advice from those that have already traveled the road I'm embarking on is well appreciated and wanted. The excitement that filters through people at these events is so catching. Yep, I'm a writer junky when it comes to sucking in all the information and social activity of the writing world.


Because of the conference, my little fingers have been tapping away all week on my rewritten  manuscript and the proposal that goes with it.

I have to send a big thank you to Heather Day Gilbert for all the help on a different proposal that has helped me come a long way in putting together those pesky and difficult things. Of course that was well over a year ago, but it's still having a huge affect on the furtherance of my writing career.

If you all haven't discovered Staples, you've got to check out their printing department. I've gotten the best bookmarks, flyers, and proposals copied there. The choices in paper quality and color make it so much easier to print whatever I need. So I'm off to the local Staples to get last minute papers printed.

Have a fruitful night, dear readers.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Our First Big Assembly for Memphis Learns the Hard Way

Here's a sneak peak of some of the original illustrations in my newest illustrated book.

 
Tomorrow's the big day. Karla Gragg and I are doing our first assembly at Culpeper Christian School for Memphis Learns the Hard Way! It's exciting and scary and fantastic all at the same time.

God is so good. We have a book signing lined up at a fundraiser craft fair next week and because the school fit us in this week, we can advertise to our target audience for the book signing.

I can't wait to share with the kids how God can use everyone of us to His glory with the gifts He's given us. This next generation that's coming up need to know that they have a purpose. That purpose is to live out loud, step out on faith, and grab ahold of all God has for us. For me it's to write and illustrate. For others the sky is only limited by them.

May God open the door for us to go to other schools and share the hope that is in us with more children and teens.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

What Makes a Best-selling Book: Part 2

Last week I talked about the quest I've been on to learn and grow as a writer. It's been an exciting journey. My latest pit stop was to read Writing the Breakout Novel workbook by Donald Maass. I'm glad I won it at the last conference I went to. It's been a life-saver for my work.


What an amazing book. It has changed the course of my writing. Let me put a disclaimer in right here. I must warn all Christian writers, it's quite racy in sections. And, there is explicit language in some of the excerpts.

It's keeping me thinking late into the night when I'm supposed to be sleeping. I'm thinking about it when I'm eating, even watching television.

So what's his secret? I've read many books on writing but because Mr. Maass has given lots of examples in each chapter, it brings the knowledge to life. Each chapter touches on different aspects of crafting your story, some of which I either never knew or didn't know exactly how to portrait in my work. And at the end of each chapter there are exercises to help take your current manuscript to the next level.

I'd recommend this book if you're serious about making your book best-selling quality. But be prepared to work very hard. It's not for the faint of heart. You're going to be mutilating and chopping up your baby. It'll be so worth it, though.

I'm going to be working on my book for the next two months to get ready for conference time. Hope you'll buy this book and join me.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

What Makes a Best-selling Book?

 
As writers, we all want to create works that move people, challenge our thinking and make our readers continue to ponder our characters long after they put our books down. How does a writer do that? I asked myself the same question for a long time. I went on a quest last year. I checked out books by all the best-selling authors I could find at my library and got to work researching their style and what made their books so great.

Some of them had the worst grammar. One book I read looked like their editor went on vacation until after the book was published. And of course, when you read some secular books, you get the over indulgent racy scenes and language(Yuck!).

So what was it that lends them top honors? Here's a list of the most noticeable differences between a best-seller and any other book:

  1. Taking the action up a notch
  2. Deep POV
  3. Creating likable characters that had some form of a hero status
  4. Characters who stay true to their character
  5. Characters with huge personal and public stakes

A lot of times writers don't want to overstate or over do a scene. Yet, it's such a necessary step to keep our readers reading. Don't be afraid to move the action in your story up to the next level.

Deep POV can be so hard to portrait when we're writing. It's basically taking the words of emotions and turning them into actions so the reader is experiencing it at the same time as the character.

Sorry to say, but if you don't write a likable character, it can be the best written book and it won't win any honors. Readers must be able to relate to our characters.

One thing I hate to see is when a character acts contrary to their personality. You never want your readers to say, "They would never do that," about your protagonist or secondary characters.

One of the best things you can do for your current WIP is raise the personal and public stakes. In other words, if your protagonist was in an accident, double the stakes by killing off her best friend in that same accident and running into your ma's favorite cow at the same time. Get my drift?

You may have to make a lot of changes to incorporate these, but it'll be worth your time and effort. Who knows, these tricks of the trade might make you the next best-seller.

Stay tuned to part two of this post on How Donald Maass' book Writing the Breakout Novel workbook has changed my writing and can do the same for you.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Writing Jive Ran Away

Have you ever had to drag yourself to your computer when it was time to work on your latest manuscript or critique group work? Didn't washing the toilet interest you more this morning than turning your computer on? Making a phone call you've been dreading suddenly seems like the right thing to do when you're supposed to be parking yourself in your seat to write.



This is me, right now. Yep, right at this moment...and for the last several months. I whine. I cry. I beg God to help me get to work. Of course it's all in deep POV, you know. Just happening on the inside.




On the outside, I'm so busy. I'm running everywhere. I'm overloaded with chores and the activities my kids are involved in. On the inside, I know I'm making excuses, filling the time to avoid getting to work.

How I hate this phase. It's miserable. It sucks the creativity right out of me. I want to get back to writing, I just haven't made myself do it. Each night I set up a plan of action. Then in the morning, I blow it away with a different agenda.

I'm headed to the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in May. If you've ever been to one, you know what it takes to be prepared for such an adventure. The trip is paid and my husband took the time off to drive me and to stay down there. Yet, I'm months behind schedule on writing proposals and fine tuning the two manuscripts I want to take. It's getting scary to me to think how much is left to do.

 
If only I could get back on track. Pray for me. The going has been tough. For now I'll try to cling to the verse, 2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:" 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Turn Back or Continue Forward

Have you ever been smack dab in the middle of a dark night on an unfamiliar road? You don't know how long you've been going down the road you're on, and you don't know when you're going to reach your destination. What if you weren't on the right road to begin with? There don't seem to be any landmarks to give you a hint that you're even going in the right direction.

You decide it's time to turn around and go back the way you came. Give up. Quit. It's not like you knew for sure that you were supposed to take the journey anyway.

Or maybe if you start over, the directions will be more clear, there will be a chance to see if you made all the right turns, even if it takes longer. You look for a place to turn around. You have to find just the right driveway to pull into that has enough room and visibility for you to turn around. You sit and think for a moment. Go, return?

Before long you know with a certainty you're headed in the right direction. Your eyes stray back to the road. This is where your super reasoning powers take charge. It would be so much easier to give up. Who cares if you slink back to the old familiar territory and stay put. Returning to the journey may be so perilous you don't think you can survive it.

But, you know the answer. It's as clear as if God spoke right into your ear. Drive forward. Get back on the road. Trust the directions. Returning to the pavement, your eyes are trained hard on the landscape beyond your headlights. No matter how hard you strain, all you can see it what's within feet of you. He speaks to you again, "Trust."

You take a deep breath as the vehicle moves forward.

That's about where I am in this writing journey. I know I'm doing what God has called me to do, but I don't know exactly where I am. I don't know how far away my destination is. All I have is the leading of my Savior...and that will have to be enough...for now.

Good night dear readers.
Psalms 119:105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Great Book Reading Night

It's been a great day full of adventure. Karla and I had our first reading and signing event at a local elementary school where they were celebrating Dr. Seuss. There were lots of excited kids who sat and listened to us read. They were all so adorable, and very friendly too. They made an amazing poster for the entryway to the classroom where we were stationed.

 
What a great night to hook up with some old friends and meet new ones too.
 
 
Karla has such a great storytelling voice. All the kids were very enamored with her when she read. A big thanks goes out to all the parents who took time to bring their kids out. I hope we can do more events like this.

 
What kind of events have you done to promote your books? I'd love to hear from you.
 
 




Thursday, February 20, 2014

Help!

We live in a selfish world. How often have you gone to pull into a parking space and someone zoomed in before you could? What about the speeding vehicles who just barely miss the front of your bumper as they pass you at full speed on the highway? It's even evident in our children who fuss and fight to get what they want.

These are all good examples of the general world, but what about us Christians? We'd all like to think we'd be there when we hear the call of the Lord, right? Wouldn't it be part of the nature engrafted to us by our Savior after salvation? Yet we are all guilty of being selfish.

Have you ever promised to do something for someone but didn't do it? What if it was something that didn't really matter--to you, that is? The book world us Christian writers live in can be as cut throat and full of broken dreams as the rest of the world out there. So many of us have felt the slice of an agent who promises to respond and never does. We've experienced those who straight out tell us our work isn't good enough. And I'm sure many of you would agree that we've inflicted wounds on other Christian writers, ourselves. The reason: Selfishness.

Well, this is a call to arms. Let each of us do what we say we will do. Let's be more kind. And, let's work a little longer and harder for the good of others. Help those around us.


I had a writing buddy help me this weekend who didn't have to. But what she did for me enriched my life, furthered my writing career, and directed me in a matter I could not have figured out on my own. I send many blessings her way. Even if I didn't, God would surely see fit to reward her for her kindness.

I want to be like that for other writers. To be an encourager, to reach out to others is what we are called to do by our Savior.

Can you remember the last time you took an extra step for someone else? How about the last time someone helped you? It feels good whether you're the giver or the receiver. Be a giver this week.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Time to Redo

It's been an interesting few months as far as my writing goes. I usually have the next story brewing in my mind a quarter of the way through my current work, but that didn't happen this time around. I waited and thought and wondered why I hadn't been inspired. When I finished my fourth manuscript, I thought maybe then it would come to me. Still nothing.

It was time to worry at that point. I went to my sister and asked her for some ideas, hoping she'd jar something loose in my mind. NOPE. Then I turned to my muse. That would be my husband. Still nothing.

What is a writer to do? I don't know how to function without ideas to develop and grow and turn into outlines.

It was time to pray. Maybe that should've come sooner. Guess what? Nope, still nothing. I had no choice but to stop trying and wait for an answer. It started small, almost unnoticeable by all accounts. A comment here, a thought from a friend there. My husband made a suggestion. He couldn't be right, I was sure. Then the pastor preached a message that seemed to be directed right at me.

I got the message. It wasn't the one I wanted, but none the less it was what God had for me. He wanted me to rewrite. He showed me that I needed to shift my focus to one of my first manuscripts. It needed to be reworked bad, and I'd put it off for a year.

I hemmed and hawed for a week. The amount of work involved would make any writer cry at the thought. But, there's only so long one can ignore divine advice. So off to my computer I went. The first page and a half took five hours to edit and rework. It was as bad as I'd expected.

With a lot of hard work and double perseverance, I'm trudging through to what I hope will be a published novel some day in the near future. I'm so glad God directed me to fix it, even though it hasn't been easy. It's been amazing to see how much my writing has developed and changed in the past four years.

Do you have a story or two that sit buried on a shelf; ones you don't think will ever see the light of day? Let me encourage you to pull them out and refurbish them. It'll be worth it in the end.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

My Books Have Arrived

I couldn't contain myself when I saw two boxes on the kitchen table. I knew what was in them as soon as I noticed them. Sure enough, my name filled the address box. They'd arrived a few days earlier than I'd anticipated. I ran over and heaved them up in a bear hug and dragged them upstairs. Excitement filled every recess of my being. Peeling the cardboard back on the smaller one, I reached in and pulled out the very first copy of the book I illustrated. There's nothing like holding a your official book in print. It'll bring tears to your eyes, let me tell you.


I couldn't wait to call Karla, the writer of the book, and let her know they'd arrived. She told me she'd booked a reading for a book fair at a local public school. The fair will give us a chance to put our books in the hands of a lot of children. I was reminded at that moment how God love's and gives to His children when they follow Him.


What a blessing to be able to show kids they too can follow a dream and see it come to fruition. And, what a triumph to know that God's Word is going to be seen by many at that fair.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Changes Coming Your Way

It's amazing how much time we can spend on social media. I'm considering starting a new blog with WordPress, and boy is it hard to start up when you're not very computer literate. Now, you could ask me almost anything about Microsoft Word, but that's as far as my electronic wisdom goes.

I spent hours trying to get everything to work. Adding a profile picture was a nightmare. Picking the right theme and setup was a challenge.

I know- all you're hearing is complain, complain, complain. I'm done.

On the bright side, I got it set up for the most part. Maybe soon this blog will move to WordPress. I'll keep you updated on that change. I hope it'll make my blog a little more user friendly for me and my readers.

To all you WordPress users...HELP! I need some help.

Goodnight my friends.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Relax!

It's been one of those glorious weeks where I've had some time to relax. It's amazing how much you miss it when you've been going non-stop for two months as I have. Thanks to the snow and kid's being out of school, it was even better than a normal rest, too.

And it's really something when I don't care if someone sees me in my comfy, don't leave the house clothes, but since it was one of those weeks, I didn't bother to get embarrassed when Karla dropped something off for our newly released book, Memphis Learns the Hard Way. She definitely eyed the baggy pants and huge gray sweater I love to wear, yet she didn't say a word. You see, it is rare that anyone sees me in those kind of clothes. Image is important to me. But comfort this week won out.

I spent two days of playing Nancy Drew, a computer mystery game, with my family, including my sister and her kids. That's also a rarity that she can take the same time as I do to relax. With my husband at the helm of the computer, we beat one game and started another. All the snacks and popcorn circulating were enough to ruin the calorie count for me. I guess I'll have to double-time it at the gym next week, but it was worth it.


My father-in-law even provided the main course of two dinners. What a blessing!

These times make me so thankful to my God. He provided all the things I love so I could take a break. He's the best, isn't He?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Public Eye- Good or Bad?

Today, my husband and I joined the gym. Yep. I broke down and did the one thing I didn't think I'd ever do. Why you ask? Everyone wants to lose weight. No one is truly happy with who they are.

The answer is simple. Being in the Public Eye. If you're going to pay the monthly fees, you'd have to commit to working out on a regular basis. And I don't want anyone to see me sweat. You think I'm joking, but I'm not. I don't care to be in the public eye much. You can imagine how that affects the car salesmen I had to become when I had my first book published.

This problem of shyness can have a devastating affect: i.e. don't work out-gain weight, don't get out there and sell your books- your platform is going to remain small.

It takes a lot of dedication and devotion to get the results we want. Whether it's sticking to an exercise regimen or getting on the phone and setting up book signings, it's important to press forward and tucker down till the work is done. Which means my shy side has to go.

The first attempt is the hardest. For those of us who are shy, it seems like an impossible task to get in the spotlight. How do you do it?
  1. Take it one step at a time- At my first book signing I couldn't get out of my chair. I had to focus on looking each person in the eye and thanking them for coming as I signed their copies. By the third one I was able to walk around and talk to people to get them to come to my table. (My knees were knocking at this feat.)  
  2. Set a goal- Maybe today you set yourself to task making just three phone calls to set up book signings, or thirty minutes on the treadmill.
  3. Make a checklist- It can help you focus, and it'll give you the opportunity to see what you've accomplished as things get crossed off.
  4. Pray- It's important to be in line with God's will for us.
Whether I'm working out or preparing to do a book signing, I need to start with baby steps and work with a definite goal in mind. How about you? Are you ready to get in the public eye?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

My Newly Released Illustrated Book

I was so excited last year when I began to collaborate with a fellow friend, Karla Gragg, to do some illustrations for a story she'd written. I didn't know what I'd gotten myself into at first, but just the thought of a new project invigorated me. She'd written a great story years earlier. It had a very important life lesson I wanted to be a part of bringing to children.

God is amazing. He gave me the opportunity to know a couple, Lisa and Butch Montgomery, who'd started a small publishing company a few years back. They were great to work with on this manuscript. Thanks to them, all the little pitfalls and adjustments along the way were made much easier.

It's interesting to take someone else's story and put your own design into it. Karla was a little surprised by my color choices, but she gladly let me have artist freedom to work as I pleased. Every few weeks, I'd bring my computer for her to see my progress. We both celebrated together as the book began to take form.
Then off it went to be published. For all you writers out there, you know that's not the end of the work. Designing the front cover, working on page setup, and sending and resending the proof was part of the long process. And a big thanks goes out to Butch for fixing some problems between my program and the one used by the publishing house.

It was on the one year anniversary of losing three foster children we loved dearly that I commemorated their life with us by starting the first picture of this book. It was part of the healing process to create the illustrations.And I dedicated it to them and my own five children. I hope someday to hand them each a copy of this book.

Here we are today with our book on Amazon and True Horizons Publishing. I've heard it made it into some stores too. Thank you Lord for overseeing us through this beautiful journey

Now, I hope you all enjoy this book with your children and grandchildren.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Snow: So Like Humans


The snow has come to lay upon the ground in the most glorious of fashions. One minute rain poured from the sky, the next, huge flakes almost the size of a cracker began to land on the ground just a couple hours ago. I stood in amazement. They had to be the biggest I'd ever seen.

To some who abhor even the thought of snow I can imagine the horror at the forecast for today, but for those snow lovers like myself, it was a most wonderful addition to my afternoon.

There's nothing like looking out onto the whitest of white yards. I can't help but think of God when I do. The beauty of it is like the clean slate he gives us to shape and mold our talents.

Snow can be such a malleable substance, or it can turn to hard ice. Isn't it amazing how it is so like humans? When we're as snow, God can make igloos and snowmen, trails and sledding tracks, snowballs and beautiful white garlands on trees with us. But when we're like ice, there's little to be done. It takes the salt to melt or the sharp blade to cut to turn ice into anything.


I want to be as snow: washed white and ready to be used. I want to be a clean slate for God to work with. Just imagine what He can do with us writers. Think how we can be shaped to change the world with our words. Our words can be delicate as a cold flake in our palm or as powerful as an igloo wall. And we can do it all for His glory.

I hope that today, if you have the fortune of looking upon a glistening wintry scene, you'll allow it to be a representation of who God wants you to be.