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, May 30, 2011

Monday Musings--the creativity of a 9 year old!

I shared a couple of my granddaughter's stories last year, written when she was only seven or eight. This year she entered two stories in a local writing contest for children 9-14 years old. She spoke them to me and I typed them as she rattled them off. She had two stories in the top ten in spite of being the youngest in that category!

Last week she and her sister spent the night and we watched a movie called Nim's Island about a young girl whose father is lost at sea. Nim enlists the help of an author of adventure books to rescue him. The author arrives, but she is afraid of most things and has writer's block. I asked Danielle if she ever got writer's block. When I explained it meant that you couldn't think of what to write next, she said, "No, I just say it as I think it!" My writer friends and I all wish we had her creativity and confidence!

So, for today and next Monday I will share the creativity of a nine year old with no writer's block! Hope it inspires you as it does me!

Love That Dog, Pokey by Danielle K.

Back in the nineteen thirties, some people did not love dogs. And dogs did not love books. But there was one special girl and her dog that actually made history. Here is how the story goes.

Once there was a girl named Bella. She had a dog named Pokey which was named after the Hokey-Pokey. She loved him as much as her heart. But, she loved him so much that she read books to him ever since he was born. She would grab a blanket, two pillows and a couple books and read them to Pokey.

She loved books that she got from her favorite librarian in the world named Mrs. Carolyn. Bella never wanted to go to school because she wanted to read books to Pokey. That was her most favorite thing to do.

Also back in the nineteen thirties, there were so many dog catchers around that Bella had to keep Pokey safe, so she would hide him in her bedroom and close the windows and hide with him.

Many days later, Bella and Pokey went to a dog store to buy lots of dog chew toys and dogfood. The storekeeper said, “If you are going to bring in dogs, I cannot allow you, so either get the dog out or both of you get out.” So, Bella left.

Bella never stopped checking out books from the library, but she could not bring Pokey in because dogs were not allowed. So, she always would go to the back of the library and go into the basement which had many good books and hide Pokey in the bathroom so no one would see him. And she would go upstairs to check out Pokey’s favorite books.

After they came home from the library, they both went upstairs to read another book. Bella was so happy that she would not even sell her dog for one million dollars even though she was so poor.

That night she read forty books and did not stop—every word in those books. But in the morning, there was one book left on her table. It was called Love that Dog.

She didn’t grab it because she was so tired.

Her sister Molly said, “It’s Saturday morning. You’ve got to read something.”

So Bella grabbed that book and read all the chapters in two hours. But Pokey was laying on her bed and not listening because he was not feeling good. He did not wag his tail.

So she grabbed her phone and called the vet. The vet said that the dog may not be a him, it may be a her.

The vet came over to check Pokey out. He said, “Pokey is going to have puppies.”

“Pokey is a her,” said Bella.

Two hours passed. When the puppies arrived, Bella was so excited that she had grandchildren!

When she looked at the book Love that Dog, she grabbed it and started reading it to Pokey’s puppies.

Many years passed. When Bella was twenty years old, she looked at the same book and said to herself, “If you love that dog, you love the dog’s pups.”

And that is the story of Bella and her beloved dog, Pokey.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Fridays with Friends Guestblog by Connie Stevens

Today's guestblog is very special to me for two reasons. One is that Connie has been a very special friend and prayer partner to me for several years, since soon after we both joined ACFW. The other reason is that it tells the story of one of her prayers that concerned me! And Donna Rich, the other person Connie is hugging in the picture above.

NEXT YEAR . . . AND THE WINNER IS--by Connie Stevens

In September of 2009, after many years of struggling, learning, praying, practicing, improving, being rejected, learning some more, achieving baby steps, learning some more, praying some more . . . well, you get the idea . . . I attended the annual conference of American Christian Fiction Writers. There is a tradition at the conference that takes place on the first night. Two editors from Barbour Publishing take the stage and announce the awarding of first-time contracts. It has always been one of my favorite parts of the conference. On that magical night in 2009, the title of my novel was announced. After screaming, laughing, crying, hugging, and some joy-filled phone calls, I had a few quiet moments to spend with God.

In the stillness, He let me re-live the excitement, but He also reminded me of the journey. There were countless times I remember wondering if this writing thing was really God’s direction for my life, or was it just something I wanted to do. Had I truly heard from Him in pursuing this crazy career or was this merely an obsessive hobby? While I re-read the letter of intent from Barbour Publishing, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of exciting roller coaster ride was ahead. But one thing I knew beyond any doubt: God walked with me through the pre-published journey. He would walk with me on this next level as well.

The following day—day two of the conference—during the worship time we sang While I’m Waiting, and it occurred to me that someone in that room of 500+ people there was a person who, like me, was wondering and waiting. Next year would be their time, but they didn’t know it yet. So I started praying for that person. I asked God to encourage them and motivate them, to keep them close to Him and honor Him with every word they wrote. I prayed for the person’s heart, knowing that in one year they would know the same joy I now experienced.

I prayed again the following day and the day after that. Have you ever prayed for a specific person without knowing who it was? Before I knew it, praying for “next year’s recipient” of the first-time contract became a privilege I anticipated every morning. It was impossible to keep the smile off my face as I prayed blessings for the person whose name I did not know.

As the time for the 2010 conference grew closer, my prayers grew too. My heart was stirred for this unknown person, and the anticipation of learning their identity swelled. In the opening general session, I was supposed to be working in the bookstore, but I snuck into the auditorium and stood at the back, my heart pounding, my hands clasped at my chin. The editors took the stage and the name was announced.

OH MY GOODNESS!!! The person for whom I’d prayed for an entire year was my dear friend, Rose McCauley!! I screamed. I cried. I praised God.

I knew she would be mobbed immediately after the session, so I held back and waited. When God gave us a moment, I told her how God had impressed on my heart to pray for “next year’s recipient” for the entire year. Rose immediately agreed to do the same. So this year, Rose is praying for that yet unnamed person who will hear their name called at the 2011 conference—the person who is at this moment still on the journey. What joy is in store for him/her! But there is another joy--the joy of praying for someone whose name we do not know.

Rose again: Dear Friends, I count it a privilege to continue this tradition Connie started of praying for this year's winner of the first contract from Barbour award. And if you will check out Connie's website below and the books she has published and has coming out, you will see how God has blessed her and is using her to bless her readers. Thank you, Connie, for sharing this memory with me and my readers, for your friendship and prayers over the years, and especially for your faithfulness in listening to God and following as He directs you!


Leave Me Never - January 2011 (Heartsong Presents)

Revealing Fire - May 2011 (Heartsong Presents)

Scars of Mercy -- Coming soon (Heartsong Presents)

Heart of Honor —2012 (Heartsong Presents)

Hope’s Dwelling Place – 2012 -- novella in the Sundays In Fredericksburg collection (Barbour Publishing)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Musings

May is a Special Month because...

it is our wedding anniversary and...
Mother's Day and...
college graduations and...
high school graduations and...
the last day of school and...
mostly beautiful weather and...
gorgeous flowers from all the April rains and...
time to praise God for all His wonderful creation!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fridays with Friends--Lisa Lickel

Lisa Lickel and I became friends after meeting at the Write to Publish Conference in Chicago a couple years ago. (see picture below.) We are now working on a book proposal together, and I am amazed at how much she gets done! Lisa has shared her perspective on feeding your imagination by being involved in things you are passionate about. And all of us need imagination!

How Deep Does Your Passion Run? by Lisa Lickel

An author doesn't sit around pounding at the keys all day. Real authors go out and gather experiences to fuel their passion. I am a local historian—that is to say, I have studied and continue to learn about the people who live in my rural community, where their ancestors came from, the struggles they went through to get established. One particular place, the Saxonia House, feeds my imagination like no other. I immerse myself in it.

There has to be some truth about the saying, that something gets into your blood. I can’t explain my passion any other way. I unload my third five-gallon container of frozen raccoon scat in the nearby woods last winter, in the snow. It doesn’t escape my notice that it's Valentine’s Day. I hoped that cleaning it out of the attic of the Saxonia House in the winter would make it easier. Just because this once lively home is abandoned except for the mice and bats and spiders and flies, and, oh, my, raccoons (and two spotted salamanders in the basement) and a very persistent groundhog, doesn’t mean it needs cleaning any less than my own.

I am obsessed.

In summer another crazy person wants to take pictures for a Powerpoint production. I want the house to look as nice as it can, in its aging floozy condition. While I was sweeping the year’s worth of guano from my favorite room of the house, I thought about my obsession, and why it is so. I find a bottle. It’s not antique, but it still immediately brings to mind that this might have been a tavern and meeting room, where so much that is Fillmore came to be. Maybe some Prussian comes into town, stopped at the inn for a lukewarm one and directions to his new holdings in the western part of the township. “Ach, back in the Fatherland, we Prussians – we’d be considering how to take control of your measly confederation. Saxony, tariffs – bah! But here in the new country – we be friends.” I hear German songs echoing from the rafters.

Bats chitter behind the attic door and briefly I consider running so I can see which hole they fly out of, so we can patch it up. But that’s silly; there are so many holes.

I couldn’t find a filter mask this morning before I came to finish cleaning. I’m probably going to get a disease from breathing in this bat gunk and old plaster dust, I think. I consider how the particles get into my lungs, and then into my bloodstream. Maybe I don’t sneeze them all away, and some of this place literally stays in my blood.

I go home, and write stories of friendship and lost loves and found dreams.

What's your passion? Is it something that gets into your blood, so that you can pour it onto the page? Go out and live! Feed your imagination from real experiences.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday's Musings--A Late Mother's Day

My husband and I went to Florida last week for our 43rd anniversary so we were gone on Mother's Day. Although all three of our kids called me that day, I am just now receiving my gifts. Our oldest daughter told me she plans to take me and her daughters to get pedicures together. Our youngest daughter bought me several flats of red, white and blue flowers today to beautify our yard. But, it was rainy and too wet to plant today, so my husband thinks they will be OK if we set them out in the yard to keep them moist. Hope so. I will try to take a picture later when it is all done. and I wonder what our son will get me? He did come to the airport to pick us up when we returned, so perhaps that is his gift.

In closing I want to share a free verse poem I wrote a few years ago about Mother's Day:
Mother's Day

Maternal instinct
     Mother's touch
          Mother's embrace
Mother's prayers
     Mother's smile
          Mother's love

How was your Mother's Day? Anyone have some more thoughts to share?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday with Friends

I want to welcome another ACFW friend, Karin Beery, who is sharing her unique perspective on learning this writing business.

Real World University, by Karin Beery

I never intended to be a writer. Though I love to read and I had a degree in English, I enjoyed working in hospitality. Writing was just something I did for work, but then my husband was diagnosed with cancer. I quit my job and started substitute teaching so I could take care of him. I also started writing. I didn't have a goal or deadline, and I think my ignorance saved me. This has been a long journey, and it's not over yet.

Like many writing newbies, I thought I'd jump right in and get a novel published. I wrote the manuscript. Friends read it. I edited it. Then I did the research – I knew nothing about the publishing industry. Instead of giving up, however, I decided to press on. I'm glad I thought so highly of myself at the time, because if I had honestly realized how long it would take me to develop my career, I don't know if I would have kept going.

The first thing I knew I needed to do was get some bylines. Truthfully, that was pretty easy. A local paper needed help, and they were willing to work with an inexperienced writer. Once I had gained some confidence, I branched out to other local weekly papers and got more gigs. Though I love writing for the small town rags, they don't pay a lot. If I could afford to do nothing more than write local human interest stories, I would, but I can't. I had to branch out even more.

I started scanning the Writer's Market Guides for new markets. Those books are huge, however, and only a handful of the magazines want what I write. It would have been easy for me to spend days researching the possibilities.

Meanwhile, I'm still trying to hone my craft and break into fiction. One of the best ways to do that is by attending writing conferences. They, of course, require money. What little I made writing locally I poured right back into conferences. To get the most bang for your buck at a conference, you really need to find out which editors and agents will be there, as well as who's interested in your type of work. That meant more and more research, and none of it paid.

Then I heard about the wide world of freelance editing. The same writing skills are required, but it's faster to edit a book than it is to write one. That's why so many writers dabble in both worlds. I decided to do the same. I wasn't entirely sure where I should start, but I knew where I wanted to start – online.

During all of my research of conferences, editors, and markets, I discovered something about myself – I love a well-designed website. Unfortunately, I know nothing about creating one. It made sense to hire someone to do it for me. Sounds simple enough, right? I wasn't prepared. It took weeks of brainstorming, proof-reading, second-guessing, mind-changing, and other nit-picking before I finally had a website I liked. It lasted less than a year – I'm already changing it, and I'm still paying for it.

Recently, I received my first unsolicited phone call from an interested client (thank you, website!). We've met once and are going to do a couple of test-runs to see if we're compatible. If we work well together, he'll start sending work my way – as an editor. I do already have many of the skills necessary for that, but I want to make sure I'm the most professional, well-informed editor that I can be, so I'm going back to conferences, buying resources, and doing more research. This is all speculative, too. I may not get the job. Even if I don't, I'll be better prepared for the next call.

I'm now over two years into my career, not making much money, and spending many more hours studying and learning than I am actually writing and selling. It's taking longer than I anticipated, but I don't regret it. After all, it took me four years to earn my Bachelor's degree. I figure I'm just about halfway through my Real World Education.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Monday Musings--Book review of Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer

I thought I would start our week off with a book review of a wonderful book I just finished last night. I read Karen's debut novel, A Tailor-Maid Bride and reviewed it last year. Although some sophomore novels don't live up to the promise of the first book, I need to tell you that Karen's second book is superb! I read this book in two days which is a rarity for me nowdays!

If you like Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters, you will love Head in the Clouds. Take a governess, a small child and an English nobelman, then transport them to a sheep ranch in Texas and you have a rollicking good story with more than enough love to go around.

There is also a villian and some tense scenes which is why you have to read it so quickly to make sure everyone survives. So hurry on out and buy or order this book. You might have your head in the clouds for days afterward!

This book was sent to me by the publisher, Bethany House, for review purposes, but that did not affect my review in any way. Thanks, Bethany and Karen for a great read!

Friday, May 06, 2011

Fridays with Friends--guestblogger Carole Brown

I am so happy to welcome Carole Brown to my blog. Carole is a fellow ACFWer and also a member of my Ohio group. She is very friendly and full of smiles, and today she has some great information for those of us starting down the marketing road. Come a long with me and enjoy the ride!

I Don’t Wanna Be a Marketer! By Carole Brown

Me, neither, but when I chose a writing career, I signed on unofficially to do all I can to promote my books/my writing career. In this day, it’s an accepted part of being a writer. No longer can we sit back and allow publishers to do it all.

Sure it’s scary. Most writers are introverts. Anytime a writer has to open up their self to others and expose your dreams and hopes and thoughts to the world, it’s risky. We’d rather stay in our shells, write and sell tons of books. But there’s another part—and it’s not very well liked—side of writing. Marketing.

Social media is a must. We’re faced with tons of choices: speaking, book signings, physical and blog tours, Facebook, Shoutlife, My Space, Twitter, blogging. How can we know what’s for us?

By experimenting in small doses.
· Speak to your friends about an aspect of your writing. Don’t try to overload them with information. Pick out some small part of your life as a writer and share it. Decide what you’re knowledgeable about and develop that topic. This could lead you to more and larger engagements. Take advantage of it.
· Social Internet groups. Check out different ones. Find and learn how to negotiate through your choice. Be faithful. Posts don’t have to be long. Be friendly and make as many friends as you can. You can’t post and sit around waiting on everyone to pounce on them. Check out others’ posts. Comment with sincere remarks. Invite others to be your friend, and be theirs. Show you care.
· Get a website. Published or not, start preparing now for when it happens. Take time to prepare one that’s attractive and appealing.
· Blog.
1. Again, prepare a blog that represents your genre, you and your writing. Doesn’t have to be flashy. Just attractive and you.
2. Make a list about your writing.
· Genre (children, historical, sci-fi, romance, mystery?),
· themes throughout your books,
· Any special topics you always touch on?
· What do you want your readers to take away after reading your books?
· How do you hope they inspire others?
· Do you want a specialty blog or a more general one to feel free to use a variety of ideas on it? My definition of a specialty blog: one that specializes in, for example: all interviews and reviews, or one that has mostly posts about their books, characters, etc., or one that offers writing advice.

I consider mine a general one.
1. Sundays, I have a devotional, very short type of worshipful post (for the reader and me).
2. Mondays, I usually post a list of ten things I’m grateful for (an exercise that helps me connect with readers, but also shares a tiny portion of my thoughts and life).
3. On Wednesdays, I offer occasional reviews, but mostly interviews, with lots of giveaways.
4. Fridays, is a fun day. Articles, guest posts, funny tidbits about life, interesting things.
5. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays are my free days, but I also use them for extra stuff when I’m booked up.
Work with these ideas to create a blog that is YOU!
3. Decide how many posts you want and can do in a week’s time. It’s better to pick too few days as too many that you can’t keep up with.
4. Be faithful. Be disciplined. Sure, once in awhile you may miss a day. That’s okay. We’re human. Don’t belabor the fact. Move on to your next day and pick up your pace again.
5. Comment on others’ blogs. Become a follower of others’ blogs. Encourage, encourage, encourage.

Be patient as you build your platform for a successful writing career. It all takes time, but if you follow these few steps and study other writers’ successes, you’ll eventually find the groove that just fits you and your life.

Happy marketing!

Carole’s bio:
Carole Brown, wife of Dan and mother of two grown sons, lives in Ohio and writes suspense, romantic suspense, and mystery, all a passion with her. Carole’s published four children’s books (learning character traits) that are used in Christian schools and VBS. She is a semi-finalist in the 2011 American Christian Fiction Writer’s Genesis contest, in the Women’s Fiction division. She’s a reviewer with the prestigious Suspense Zone and an experienced blogger with years of blogging under her belt.

She’s received several awards for her poems, and written various magazine articles, served as editor and co-editor of many newsletters, and helped to develop advertising brochures.
She has a Bachelors Degree in Religious Education, an Associate in Computer Software and has completed several courses in fiction writing. Carole is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Central Ohio Fiction Writers, Circle of Pens (a writing group she founded for mentoring beginning writers) and The Wannabe Writer’s of West Virginia and Ohio.
Learn more about Carole at: www. sunnebnkwrtr.blogspot.com/

Monday, May 02, 2011

Monday Musings--Shocked!

That was the best word to describe my reaction to my daughter telling me that she checked our results in the online Louisville Courier-Journal for the Half Marathon in the Kentucky Derby Festival we walked in Louisville this past Saturday. There were 15,000 competing in both the full marathon (26.2 miles) and the half or mini-marathon. (13.1 miles) Out of 250 in my age group (60-64), I came in 104th with a speed of 16:38 minute mile. And I never jogged, but walked the whole way! My daughter finished a few minutes before me as she jogged the last mile. Then we had to walk a mile or more to and from the hotel, so we logged in over 15 miles that day. The backs of my thighs can attest to that!

The porta-potties left much to be desired, but when we got to Churchill Downs, a lady there told us the bathroom was very clean, so I told Mandy that next time we will make our one pit stop there! She said, "Next time?" I would love to do the walk with my other daughter, too, and maybe even my grandkids someday, so who knows?

We and the other marathoners enjoyed beautiful weather, and beautiful views of the city. I grew up in Louisville which is one of the reasons my daughter suggested we do this race, and I have to say that I think the city is even prettier and cleaner than during my childhood years. Mandy and I saw some familiar sites as we walked--the Science Museum where we enjoyed a sleepover with her Girl Scout troop, the funeral home where both my parents' visitations took place, the church I attended as a young girl with my deaf grandparents, Churchill Downs and more.

We even got medals at the end! See us in the picture above back in our hotel room after completing the race. My favorite part was sharing this special event with my youngest daughter. Thanks, Mandy, for the memories! And the motivation!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Our monthly winners are...

Joanne Sher who wins an autographed copy of The Sheriff's Daughter by Laurie Kingery and Cheri Horgan wins a copy of Something Stirs by Thomas Smith. These books will be on their way after both winners send me their mailing addresses.

This month's book to win is called 199 Promises of God to celebrate me reaching the milestone of 199 blogposts last month! It is chock-full of Scripture promises to encourage you along your journey. To be included in the drawing which will take place on June 1st, please leave a comment any time the month of May along with your email address so I can contact you for mailing info. All those with a US mailing addy except the two winners mentioned above are eligible, so what are you waiting for?