Welcome to my little bit of cyber-space. It is my prayer that all who enter here may be richly blessed by the God of all grace. All praise to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Musings--Books I Have Read so far in 2011

Today is the last day of February, so I thought I would share the books I have read since January 1st of this year. I've read 13 so far:
The Other Brother by Lena Nelson Dooley
Going Rogue by Sarah Palin
Making Waves by Lorna Seilstad
The Waters Roar by Lynn Austin
A Time to Dance by Karen Kingsbury
A Time to Embrace by Karen Kingsbury
Angel Sister by Ann Gabhart
Under a Maui Moon by Robin Jones Gunn
I Shall Not Want by Debbie Viguie
The Train Stops Here by Gail Sattler
An Unexpected Love by Andrea Boeshaar
Waterfalls by Robin Jones Gunn
Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones
And I should finish America By Heart by Sarah Palin by tomorrow so that will make 14 in the first two months of 2011. How about you, dear readers. Do you want to share what you have read so far this year?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Book Review--Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones

This latest book by Jenny B. Jones is laugh-out-loud hilarious! In fact, I finished it last night at midnight and was afraid I would awaken my husband in the next room with my outbursts of laughter. But, it also has such a grand spiritual lesson of realizing how special we are in God's eyes as His children. And how all our days--past, present and future--are in His hands. At least, that was the spiritual takeaway for me.

It starts out as a rich guy/poor girl "Cinderella" story, but has so many twists and reversals and characters who aren't quite who you thought they were, you wonder how it can ever turn out with a happy ending. As the back cover announces on the invitation: "You are cordially invited to the wedding of the year with the most unlikely bride and groom. Save the date...and say your prayers."

I hope you will join me and Jenny B. Jones' huge fan club on this inspiring journey from Charleston's South of Broad crowd to the homeless of the city and their angel band of helpers. You'll grow along with the characters, and that's always a good thing!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Friday with Friends--guestblog by Christina Berry

I am so happy to introduce you to a good friend of mine. We first became cyber-friends when she edited a book for me. Christina did a super job, and I highly recommend her editing prowess. We later became friends in person at the ACFW conference a couple years ago when we rode in the van to the hotel together and shared several meals together and even collected tickets together one night at the evening meal. Lots of togetherness!

And, she is a great writer. Be sure to check out her book, The Familiar Stranger, if you haven't already read it. The book was a Christy finalist in 2010 and also won ACFW's Carol Award! Woo-hoo, Christina! You can order an autographed copy from her website at http://christinaberry.net/ And you can also check out her other links there, too, to find out more about her and her editing services, and please read her bio below.

Now, without further ado, let's hear the words of the master writer/editor herself on how to kick writer's block!

Kicking Writer’s Block to the Curb by Christina Berry

During your writing journey along Lonely-Misunderstood Highway—commonly known to be paved with rejection—your focus is on reaching its intersection with Published Avenue. Occasionally, however, you must pass through the maligned neighborhood of Writers’ Block. In this section of town, people wander aimlessly, circling, blank or frustrated looks on their face.

You might hit this detour at the start of your journey, though most trips start off with great excitement. A full tank of gas, goodie bag, sweet tunes on the radio, and the open road ahead—writing is good!

We’re not yet sick of our traveling companions (characters), the scenery (setting), the purpose of the trip (theme), and we’re not discouraged by how far there is still to go (word count).

Imagine this: you’re cruising along at just over the speed limit, impressed with what good time you’re making, when a pendulous, glaring, red eye of a stoplight appears over the roadway.


Suddenly your companions have gone silent, the setting is stagnant, you’re not sure why or where you are headed where you are, and wherever it is … it’s too far away.

U-turn and go back to your existence as a happy non-writer, clueless as to the pain of Writers’ Block, untouched by literary angst? Never! Try some of these things to get, in the timeless words of Willie Nelson, on the road again.

1) Pray! This is, of course, always the Christian answer to everything, so a great place to start, no doubt.

2) Play a game with yourself. Sometimes I make a list of my chores, and a list of my word count in 100-word increments. After crossing off a chunk of words, I can start a load of laundry or shower or grab a handful of M&Ms. If eating M&Ms is not on your chore list, you need to make better lists.

3) Read a great book to inspire you, or a horrible book to remind you that even bad books get finished eventually. Some even are published.

4) Take a walk. The exercise will stimulate the blood flow to your brain, creating instant genius fixes to whatever plagues your manuscript.

5) Open up a new document or grab a notebook and let your mind go in a stream of consciousness monologue from one of your characters. After ten minutes, reread what poured on to the screen/page. Is there a new conflict you didn’t even know about before that can be explored? What worries does your character reveal?

6) Vent. Call a friend. If you call a fellow writer, you might get a bit of sympathy, but she won’t let you whine for long. Choose a non-writer. You’ll have an aura of mystic creativity, which allows for a longer whine.

7) I know I already mentioned M&Ms, but snacking is always a good thing. Just make wise choices. Carrots, raisins, and a cup of dry Cinnamon Life might allow you to maintain a better lap for your laptop to rest upon than chocolate, ice cream, and cappuccinos.

8) Have your character do a normal thing, but with a crazy twist. I thought my daughter was building a snowman after the last good accumulation of white stuff. She called me out a few hours later to show off her snowseal, complete with ball on its nose. Those little details, if you’ve stuck in a needed scene that’s been done too many times before, could get your story moving again.

9) Grab the newspaper. Find the craziest story, then work some aspect of it into your novel. The fresh direction should give you a “novel” wind.

10) Introduce a new character and see how the dynamic of the novel shifts.

11) Skip ahead a few chapters, see what’s going on, then go back and connect the dots.

12) Ask yourself, “If I don’t want to write this, is it because it’s boring and I know nobody wants to read it?” Maybe it’s a scene that can be cut.

13) Put some characters together and write only the conversation. NO actions, or dialogue tags, or description—only conversation. Go back and fill in the blanks. (I stole this one from Steve Bly.)

14) Have something explode. This is especially plot-changing in gentle women’s fiction and Amish.

I hope these strategies work for you. Do me a favor, will you? Give me a little wave when you zoom past and I’m still stuck wandering the block?

Bio: As a single--but NEWLY-engaged--mother and foster parent, Christina Berry writes about the heart and soul of life with a twist of intrigue. A Christy finalist and Carol winner, she holds a BA in Literature, yet loves a good Calculus problem as well. Captain of a winning Family Feud team, Christina is also a purple belt in Tae kwondo and would love to own a descented skunk. Christina is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Oregon Christian Writers (OCW), and the Redeemed Writers Critique Group. For the past five years, she has served on the OCW summer conference staff. Get to know her better at www.christinaberry.net or www.authorchristinaberry.blogspot.net or on Facebook or Twitter. If you're looking for a quick and thorough editing job for your manuscript, check her editing service!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Musings--Cinquains

The Saturday before Valentine's Day, my local writing group (Licking River Writers) met. One of our members told us the parameters of a cinquain then challenged us to write one in about five minutes. I am sharing below the one I wrote about my husband. A friend suggested I put it in his valentine which I did.

My Husband

My love
Tall and handsome
Gentle, yet powerful
Always caring, always loving
True love.

As you can tell from the number of syllables in each line, the first four lines have 2, 4, 6 and 8 syllables with the fifth line having two, and one topic or thought woven throughout the whole poem. There are other variations, too. I hope some of you will share a cinquain with us.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday with Friends--Gail Gaymer Martin

One Child's Wish
With his Dreams Come True foundation, Ethan Fox turns wishes into reality. Amazing trips. Meeting heroes. But Ethan has come to care deeply for a sick boy whose dream
is. . .a dad. And not just any dad. Ethan. Though little Cooper has a great chance of getting well, widowed Ethan can't chance loving---and losing---again. Yet he's spending time with the sweet boy and his lovely, single mother, Lexie Carlson. Could a little boy's wish for a dad of his own come true after all?

Available where all good books are sold at the end of February or order or view information on Amazon. Click to Order:

Writing Tip:
Gail Gaymer Martin

From Gail Gaymer Martin

At a writers’ conference in Texas where I was on staff, I met Frank Ball, the director of numerous Christian writers conferences in the northwest area of Dallas/Fort Worth. He shared one of his teaching tools with me which is an excellent way to remember the essential elements of fiction writing to help your reader becoming emotionally involved in your novel. Although Scoop It Up is an acronym for techniques to be used in the first chapter of your novel, you will see that it can work for future chapters and scenes as well

The same SCOOP elements can also help you prepare a back cover blurb of your complete novel.
Situation: The environment or condition in which the story takes place
Character: A name of title of the person whose desire matters most.
Objective: The deep desire that the character is desperate to satisfy.
Obstacle: The condition that put the goal’s fulfillment in doubt.
Plight: What the character risks in the pursuit of what he or she wants.

By the end of the story, the IT comes into play.

Insight: What the character learns, which he didn’t know in the beginning.
Transformation: How the character changes, either positively or negatively.

To carry readers’ interest into the next chapter or continuation of the story, you can also use UP
Unresolved: The unanswered question raised by the current insight and transformation.
Problem: The character’s concern about what will happen next.

Here’s a sample from my imagination:
Returning to the small town in which she lived her teen years (Situation), Emily Dorset, (Character), homeless and in trouble wants to find the father of her four year old Cody (Objective) although Race Bradley doesn’t know he has a son (Obstacle). Will Race welcome them into his home and heart or turn his back? (Plight)

Asking questions in town (Situation), Emily (Character) learns Race is still single and now the owner of his parent’s lovely home (Objective), but he is mayor of the city winning over a man of questionable morals.(Obstacle). Will admitting Cody is his son ruin his reputation in a town that values his moral standards (Plight)

Hopefully this gives you the idea of how to use SCOOP to summarize your novel and build a story that offers readers conflicts in every scene.

Frank Ball is the director of the Northwest Texas Christian Writers http://www.ntchristianwriters.com and author of the book, Eye Witness, http://www.eyewitnesstools.com/the-author

© Frank Ball 2010 Used with permission.

For more guidance in Writing Ficiton Right, visit my blog at www.writingright-martin.blogspot.com


Gail Gaymer Martin

A Dad Of His Own - Steeple Hill Love Inspired, March 2011
Dad In Training, Groom in Training, Bride In Training - Steeple Hill Love Inspired
Monterey Memories - Barbour Publishing
Writing The Christian Romance - Writers Digest

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday Musings--Valentine acrostic contest

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! As promised, I am posting another valentine/February acrostic. This is one that has been around a couple years, but I received it again from a friend this month, and the message is so good it just has to be shared. Like the message says, we need to send it around the world!

I hope this will inspire you to leave an acrostic of your own with a Valentine/February message. All those who do so will be in a drawing for a box of chocolates.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday with Friends--Guest blog by Connie Stevens

I am so happy to bring you this guest blog by my good friend and prayer partner, Connie Stevens. And believe me, Connie walks the walk. She is a true prayer warrior as you will see in this story below. Warning: you many want to have a hanky ready!

Answered Prayer by Connie Stevens
When I asked God to use my book, it was a prayer He answered almost immediately…

One week before Christmas this past December, I received a case of author copies of my debut novel, LEAVE ME NEVER, from Heartsong Presents. My excitement level was through the roof as I held my first book in my hands. Flashbacks of my writing journey that had brought me to this moment tiptoed across my mind, and I sent a prayer heavenward asking God to use this book.

I gave a few copies to friends and family and they shared in my excitement. But I had to come back down to earth. My holiday list of things to do still waited for my attention so I prepared to run several errands. I remember once, when attending a writer’s conference, someone said to always carry a few of your books with you because you never know when God will give you an opportunity to network with someone who can help you promote your book, or use the book to introduce someone to Christian fiction. So I stuck a book in my purse.

Since it was just one week before Christmas, every place was crowded, the lines were long, and patience seemed in short supply. My last stop was the grocery store. The girl who checked me out looked and sounded tired and discouraged, so I smiled at her. She tried to smile back but her effort appeared forced. I asked her if she was ready for Christmas. When all she did was lift her shoulders, I felt a nudge from God. This girl’s response wasn’t simply due to weariness and aching feet. Her very demeanor suggested an ache in her heart as well.

As she finished checking out my groceries, I asked her (a bit apprehensively) if she liked to read. She gave a half-shrug and said, “When I have time.”

My soul whispered a prayer that God would use me to minister to this young lady, but how could I do that with a line of people waiting behind me? I pulled the book out of my purse, handed it to her and said, “Merry Christmas. This is my debut novel.”

Again, the forced smile and a mumbled thank you. The bag boy tucked the last bag into my cart and turned it toward the door, waiting for me to join him. I saw the cashier out of the corner of my eye turn the book over and glance at the back. As the bag boy and I reached the door, the girl called out behind me. I turned. She had tears in her eyes as she held up the book. She tapped her finger on the back cover. “Is this what this book is about?”

I smiled (much bigger this time and not the least bit apprehensive) and said, “Yes.”

You know how sometimes you “lock eyes” with someone and unspoken communication zings back and forth between you? I saw a glimmer of hope in her eyes and this time her smile wasn’t forced when she said, “Thank you. Merry Christmas.”

The first line on the back cover of my book reads, “Does God keep His promises?”

I needed a tissue before I could drive home.

The image of this girl and the tears in her eyes has lingered in my memory. Since my book didn’t officially release until three weeks later, this cashier was among my first readers. My heart was arrested by that term—readers. As Christian authors, the reason we write goes beyond entertainment. Our writing is a ministry. We never know who will be impacted by a character or a plot that draws that reader in and points their heart in the direction of Jesus. Praying for my readers has become a new passion.


Connie Stevens lives in north Georgia with her husband of thirty-seven years, John. One cantankerous kitty—misnamed Sweet Pea—allows them to live in her home. Some of Connie’s favorite pastimes include reading, browsing antique shops, collecting teddy bears, and gardening. She also enjoys making quilts to send to the Cancer Treatment Centers Of America. LEAVE ME NEVER is Connie’s first published book. Her second book, REVEALING FIRE, releases this spring, which will be followed by a third release, SCARS OF MERCY, this summer. All three books are published with Heartsong Presents, division of Barbour Publishing. Visit Connie’s website and blog at www.conniestevenswrites.com and look for her on Facebook.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Book Review--Angel Sister by Ann Gabhart

I have read several of Ann Gabhart's novels, and I must say this is my favorite so far! As Lauraine Snelling opines on the back cover, this is "a jewel of a story."

From the opening scene, we are swept away to the dark and not-so-dark days of the depression shown in the daily lives of three sisters by blood and one sister of the heart. This book is written in several points of view, including the parents', but the main one is Kate Merritt, the middle daughter. Kate's quick actions and tart tongue sometimes get her into trouble, but she has a heart as soft as the freshly creamed butter her mother churns and a mind as sharp as a nail fashioned by her father on his blacksmith's anvil.

I don't want to reveal much detail of the story because I want you to get the enjoyment of reading it for yourself, but I will advise you to hold onto your bonnet as the story ramps up to an electrifying ending. A must read! 5 stars! And I am not just saying that because the author and publisher sent me this book to review!
And do check out Ann's blog at http://www.annhgabhart.blogspot.com for more of the backstory behind this book and a chance to win autographed copies of Angel Sister and also some gift cards to buy other books.
Monday Musings--February acrostic

Since my last Monday's musing with a January acrostic got so many great responses, I've decided to share a February acrostic, and give another prize--a box of Valentine candy. The winner will be drawn from all those who leave an acrostic on this week and next week's post, so fire up those keyboards and share with us! Here's a sample to get you inspired, but i am sure you can do much better. Yours can be either with the letters to spell February or Valentines.

Valentine's Day will soon be here, so
All who have spouses or loved ones, lend an ear.
Love can't be bought or sold or
Nor can it be faked or
Taken for granted.
It can only be given and shared
Not raved or ranted.
Everyone wants to be enchanted
by LOVE!
Hear! Hear!

Friday, February 04, 2011

Friday with Friends Guestblogger Amanda Flower

I am very grateful to all my guestbloggers, especially for all the new information they have shared with me and my readers. Since I will soon be a debut author when my first book is released in September, I learned several things about marketing from Amanda Flower. Please enjoy the piece below, and let Amanda know how much you appreciate it. Rose

Guest Blog Post for Rose McCauley
by Amanda Flower

Five Marketing Tips I’ve Learned as a Debut Author

1. Friends and family are great marketers.
The best way to sell a book is through word of mouth. Chances are you have friends and family living all over the country. Why not put them to work? Don’t forget these people care about you and are excited about your book. They will be thrilled to hand out bookmarks or suggest the book to their local libraries to purchase. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help.

2. Make your bookmarks stand out.
Every author has bookmarks. When you go to book conventions or author conferences, you may feel like you’re drowning in them. In the sea of bookmarks, make yours stand out. Readers will be more likely to pick them up when there’s a little something extra. I added a tiny silk flower to my bookmarks. It was easy and inexpensive, and my bookmarks flew off the freebie table while others were ignored. Sure, my last name is “Flower” so it wasn’t too hard for me to think of an idea to jazz up my bookmarks, but you’re creative and will think of something.

3. Make friends with librarians.
Most libraries have book talk programs in which authors can visit and speak about their book. Offering book talks are great ways to connect to readers and endear yourself to librarians. If you bring patrons into the library, it’s likely the librarian will purchase all your future books too. Not to mention, library book talks are another place to sell books. It varies from library to library, but many libraries will let you sell books after you speak. Be sure to check with the library before you try to sell anything there.

4. Suggest an alternative to buying the book.
It’s a tough economy, and even though readers may want to, they might not be able to buy your book. Instead of going for the hard sell, let them know about copies available at the local library, or if the book isn’t held by the library, ask them to suggest it. Librarians love to get suggestions for purchase from patrons because they want to buy books that they know their patrons will check out and enjoy.

5. Don’t chase the market
Don’t write for the market because you will always be chasing it. Write what you love. Create characters you care about. Eventually, the market will turn your way.

Amanda Flower is a Clash of the Titles staff member and in charge of scheduling. Amanda started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. Like her main character India Hayes, Amanda is an academic librarian for a small college near Cleveland. Maid of Murder is her debut novel and the first in a series.

To learn more about Clash of the Titles visit http://www.clashofthetitles.com/ or on Facebook http://tinyurl.com/484nov2.

To learn more about Amanda and Maid of Murder visit her online at http://amandaflower.com/. You can also follow Amanda on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/ejquq or Twitter at http://twitter.com/aflowerwriter.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Happy 1st of February

Since another month has rolled around, it's time for our book drawing, and this month I am also doing a second drawing. So, two drumrolls, please!!

The winner of the autographed copy of Alice K. Arenz's book Mirrored Image is Dottie Stephen. The book will be on the way soon, Dottie. I know you will like it!

Our other prize is for those who wrote an acrostic for January. Three writers left lovely acrostics, and the winner is Tricia Goyer who will be receiving a winter night's gift with some packages of hot chocolate and microwave popcorn. Enjoy, Tricia!

And be sure to enter the contests this month. I will do a February acrostic next Monday with the prize of a box of Valentine's candy for those who leave an acrostic on that blogpost, so be practicing on writing an acrostic with the letters that spell February.

And for our monthly book drawing, here is the back cover blurb for I Shall Not Want, the first book in the Psalm 23 Mystery series by Debbie Viguie. "It's Thanksgiving and Joseph Tyler, one of the members of Cindy's church, has organized a new charity that provides homeless people with rescue dogs to love and care for. But one by one, the homeless recipients are being murdered and their dogs stolen. Could an overly competitive millionaire with his prize-winning pooches and a grudge be behind the crimes? Or could it be someone much closer to Joseph who has something sinister to hide?"

You'll have to read the book to find out! All you have to do is have a US mailing address and leave a comment with your email addy anytime the month of February. You have two chances to win, so what are you waiting for?