Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Out Of Time

Ten days ago, I had a rather interesting thing happen to me. On that day I went to the library and wrote the final pages of my current novel.

I was so engrossed in the scenes, the characters, and the setting, I was living each one. When I explained this to my daughter, she said, "Isn't it cool to get so involved in a book you're practically breathing it?"

That's exactly how I felt. Like I was breathing the same air as these characters. I smelled the smoke and gunpowder. I crawled across the rocks and dodged incoming fire. Tears wet my cheeks at reunions made sweeter through the sacrifice it took to make them come about. I breathed those scenes.

I think this might be what folks mean when they speak of writing the book of your heart. I got to combine several of my passions: History, research, and writing. I wrote something I wanted to write, not because I thought it would fit a particular publishing house or market, but simply because I was interested in the era, the events, and the people who did such amazing things under unbelievable circumstances.

The funny thing was, 20 minutes after I typed "THE END", Heather and I found ourselves being seated for supper at the closest Applebee's restaurant. I felt like I'd jumped through a wormhole. It was something out of time. The television, the clothing, the food, the music...it was all foreign to me. I'd immersed myself so much in 1862 Frontier Minnesota, that it was strange to jump back into the 21st century. Forget that I'd been typing on a space-age laptop, drove my car to and from the library and wanted a Diet Coke more than just about anything at that moment. (No food or drink in the library, and a seven hour 'Diet Coke Drought' is about all I can stand without getting the DT's.) It was still a jolt to experience the restaurant after living with my characters.

Has this ever happened to anyone else, or am I the only nutcase?

Monday, February 26, 2007

We have a winner!

This morning, I put all the names of the folks who replied into my son's day-glo orange hunting cap and let him draw the winner.

Congratulations to Linda! You've won a copy of Mary Connealy's PETTICOAT RANCH! I'll get that to you ASAP.

Thank you to all who stopped by and read the interview. And a big thank you to Mary for being so gracious.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Interview with Mary Connealy

Today I'm pleased to post my very first author interview here at "On the Write Path". Mary Connealy has graciously agreed to share her experiences with us. Please leave a comment and enter a drawing for a copy of Mary's book PETTICOAT RANCH. The drawing will be held on Monday, February 26th. And thank you to Mary for the interview.

I drew so much inspiration hearing about your road to publication. Could you describe some of the highs and lows on that journey?


1) The first time I placed in a contest. It was really early on and not repeated for a long time, but it was such a confirmation to me. I came in third in the Smoky Mountain Romance Writer’s contest with a book called The Farmer Takes a Husband

2) The first time I earned money for writing. I sold a play, a children’s Sunday school Christmas program play. I went on to sell five of them.

3) The day my husband said, “Josie (our oldest daughter) told me I ought to read your book. You’re really pretty good.” That little compliment still touches me, that my family was talking about my writing behind my back obviously, in a good way.

4) The highest high, being offered a contract for Golden Days ~ Heartsong Presents, due out April 2007, at the 2005 ACFW conference, by Tracie Peterson, in front of 350 writers.

5) Holding my book in my hands. I sold Golden Days first but Petticoat Ranch is coming out first. The day the boxes with my author’s copies came I was just giddy all night…and for about a week afterwards.

Lows: Too numerous to mention. Not going there.

How have things changed for you since the book came out?

The thing that’s surprised me is marketing the book. I just hadn’t really thought about that aspect of having a book published before. I think I’m more naturally suited to sitting alone at my computer…Mary the Hermit. But I made a commitment to do whatever was asked of my to promote the book and I’m doing it. I like interviews like that, because it’s writing. I’ve done a couple of phone interviews and one face to face and did okay. Now comes the biggest challenge to date. I’ve got a book signing where I’m expected to ‘say a few words’. AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What other books do you have coming out soon?

Golden Days comes out in April. I now have an isbn number for it and a cover, so it’s really going to happen!

Here’s a little bit about Golden Days.

After a mishap on a bustling Seattle street nearly kills her, Amy Simons is going home to Alaska.
Braden Rafferty, devastated by the loss of his wife and child, needs to get away from his home. His brother’s new life in Alaska lures him north in the midst of the Klondike Gold Rush.
Amy, frail from her recent injuries, reminds Braden too much of his fragile wife. Amy’s independence on the trip north is crushed when she has to accept Braden’s help getting home, and she vows that as soon as her strength returns, she won’t depend on anybody. But Amy finds out she has no home to go to, and Braden steps in and takes her to his brother’s.
After Amy has another near death experience, she begins to wonder if her accidents aren’t accidental at all.

Golden Days is coming in April from Heartsong Presents, a division of Barbour Publishing
I also have a cozy mystery coming from Heartsong Presents Mysteries due out December 2008.

Being named in Great-grandma’s will was like hitting bankrupt on Wheel of Fortune. The whole family held their breath while the wheel ticked around and around, or rather while the lawyer opened the envelope. Then they all heaved a sigh of relief when the wheel stopped on Carrie’s name. Carrie the heiress. Great. Clean up the house. Clean up the yard. Clean up Great-grandma’s rap sheet.
Carrie hates mice and loves the big city. So why is she living in a huge mouse infested house in her dinky hometown? The dead guy in her pantry closet is the most interesting thing that's happened since she came home. Of course the carpenter whose helping her trap her mice and solve the crime is pretty interesting, too.

A cozy mystery coming soon from Spyglass Lane Mysteries, a division of Barbour Publishing.

Were there any surprises in the editing process, anything you weren't prepared for?

What surprised me was what a great professional job Barbour did. Everything they did for my book made it better. It’s not that I didn’t think they’d be professional, I just didn’t expect every thing they came up with…like the cover and the words on the back and things like that, to be better than I imaged.
And the other surprise:
How completely Petticoat Ranch is still my book. I really thought by the time I revised it and they edited it, it wouldn’t resemble much what I’d originally written. In other words, I expected them to fix it, but it’s mine still, for better or worse.

Who is your greatest cheerleader, and how do they encourage you to press on?

My family has been great. Surprisingly great considering the rather odd pastime writing is. They’ve encouraged me, cheered my success and helped buck me up when I had disappointments. My husband has been a great sport about the time I spend writing, the traveling I’ve done to conferences and just everything. I think he was always just the teensiest bit afraid I might actually sell a book so he thought he’d better stay on my good side. My four daughters were always great cheerleaders, too.

What drew you to western romance?

I had been writing for ten years before I got a contract. So, it’s not really western romance, it’s just that I’ve finally gotten good enough. I’ve written everything under the sun. Sweet romances like Love Comes Softly, thrillers like This Present Darkness, cop dramas, action adventure, gothics—I really loved writing that gothic murder mystery. That was just pure FUN!
The one ‘brand’ I’d say I have is comedy. No matter what I write, it ends up with comedy, even if it’s not a comical story. That seems to be my voice. But I loved writing this western style. I really think of this book as a Christian Louis L’Amour book. Have you ever read Louis? Those books are all just romance novels from the man’s POV with a lot of fist fights and shoot outs. So don’t let anyone tell you men don’t like reading romance novels! Petticoat Ranch is more western than prairie romance, more action cowboy than pioneer. For some reason I’m just enjoying myself when I can call the children in my books --young’uns—and have my hero adjust his Stetson and say, “I reckon.”

Are you a plotter or do you fly SOTP?

I can do either. I started as a SOTP but writing HPs on proposal forces you to plot because you HAVE to turn in a chapter x chapter synopsis. No way to avoid plotting that out. I like plotting just fine, but it’s hard to plot so it’s easy to skip it if no one is making you do it. Petticoat Ranch was completely SOTP. A lot of the plot twists in the book were complete surprises to me. Then later, those surprise twists become such a part of the fabric of the book, I wonder what I thought I was going to write about before I came up with that off-the-cuff development.

Are there any writing aids, craft books, resources, or systems you would recommend?

I enjoyed Stephen King’s On Writing, but mostly because it confirmed what I already knew, plus it was an intriguing look into the fires that forged King. I haven’t read many ‘How To Write’ books but that doesn’t mean it’s good to avoid them. I seem to have done everything the hard way.

What is your favorite part about being a published author?

Knowing dreams can come true. If you knew me, Erica, knew how ‘regular’ I am. A quiet life, a house and job and kids, I am all that is average. I guess the only un-average thing about me is that I love telling stories. Writing seems to be almost a compulsion for me. But it’s just unbelievable that I dared to think I could even write a book. And now, to have it published…it just makes me want to urge people to take a chance on their dreams, any dreams, because wonderful things can happen. I suppose it’s best said, “When you call on Jesus, all things are possible.”

What's your least favorite part?

Public speaking. Have you ever heard that saying—Public Speaking is the number one fear of most people? What’s number two??? DEATH!!! Well, I am all over agreeing with that. In fact, while I’m making a speech, I’m pretty much praying for death, so I guess that makes me both a coward and NORMAL.

I've heard that mysteries are difficult to write. You have a cozy mystery coming out with Barbour soon. Did you find mystery more difficult to write than historical romance?

I thought writing that sweet, funny, short cozy mystery was the most complex writing of my life. I enjoyed it. It was almost like putting a jigsaw puzzle together but keeping all the little threads and red herrings going…and don’t drop a thread. Don’t toss a red herring in and then forget to explain it. I enjoyed it, the misdirection of it and I learned a lot from writing Of Mice…and Murder, but it’s got to be done right, the story isn’t linear. Does that make sense? You can’t just tell a straight forward story, it’s all woven together.

What advice would you give to a not-yet-published writer?

I recommend entering contests. The critiques help you improve as a writer. If you final, you get your work in front of editors and agents. I recommend critique groups. They’re not for everyone, but I really improved as a writer through mine. I’d also recommend joining ACFW and using their website to find the on-line Courses. There is a gold mine of information in those courses. Plus belonging to that group is part of getting to know other writers, making connections that could lead to a contract, plus it’s such a fun support group. Knowing there are 1200 other authors out there makes you feel far less alone and writing is a lonely business.
My best advice boils down to Read and Write. Reading is the textbook, Writing is the homework. Learn how great authors write by reading them, not by studying books on how they write. If you read a really great action scene, go back and figure out how they did it, what descriptive words worked. How did they make me hear and smell and feel that fire racing toward me? How did they put me in that plane while it was crashing? How did the pain become so real? How did she make me cry right here? How did she make me laugh?

What avenues have you pursued to market your books, and are most of those initiated by you or by your publisher?

Barbour has hired Glass Roads Public Relations to publicize Petticoat Ranch. I’m trying to do my part too, and I’m in touch with Glass Roads so I can support their efforts and we don’t duplicate anything.I’ve mainly done local stuff. I live in a small town so I have contacted all the area newspapers, the local libraries, the local bookstores for book signings and events. It’s been a surprising amount of work. I’d rather be writing, but I made a commitment to do whatever was asked of me, even if it’s outside my comfort zone…like public speaking.

What blogs or websites for writers do you particularly enjoy?

I’m a staff book reviewer for At Home with Christian Fiction. www.athomewithchristianfiction.com. And that blog, run by Catherine Terry is trying something interesting and I’m the guinea pig. We’re doing an online launch party for Petticoat Ranch. I’d invite you to come to a chat we’ve got scheduled for Saturday, February 24, that’s THIS Saturday. Find it by clicking here. http://catswebdesigns.com/At_Home_with_Christian_Fiction/Party_Room.html
Come and join us. If this is successful we might do one for every author who is interested.

I hang around the Barbour editor’s blog and I’d recommend any aspiring author do that. http://editcafe.blogspot.com/ It’s a great chance to get your name in front of THREE acquiring editors from Barbour, plus learn what they like. And the posts, from Rebecca Germany, JoAnne Simmons and Susan Downs, have a lot of good lessons on writing and what they’re looking for.

I check in at Camy Tang’s blog some http://camys-loft.blogspot.com/ and I love Michelle Sutton’s book review site. http://edgyinspirationalauthor.blogspot.com/ That girl is just a readin’ machine. I like Cheryl Wyatt’s blog http://scrollsquirrel.blogspot.com/

I’ve got links to a lot of great sites on my blog, http://www.mconnealy.blogspot.com/ which you’re welcome to go see but it’s not as interesting as the others I’ve mention. I’ve also got a MySpace page http://www.myspace.com/petticoatranch and a ShoutLife page http://www.shoutlife.com/maryconnealy

I also love Crystal Miller. Here’s her blog http://christianbookscout.blogspot.com/ and the Christian Authors Network (CAN) has a great blog on marketing http://www.christianauthorsnetwork.com/

That’s enough of that. I spend too much time hunting around the internet.

Are you in a critique group?

Yes, I’ve been a member of a critique group since shortly after I joined ACFW, nearly…wow, was it five years ago? At least. I love it. I’ve been struggling to keep up with it lately and I feel like I’m failing my critique partners so I probably shouldn’t be in it anymore. But I’ve learned so much from working with those ladies. Christy Barritt, Suzan Robertson, Susan Smykla Osborne, Nicole Cooper, Tamara Cooper, Carolyn Slaughter, Rhonda Gibson and Anne Greene have passed through Crit 15 over the years. I hope I’m remembering them all.
Only Christy Barritt is left from the original group, I joined about a year after it formed. But the variety is good. I’ve learned something from all of them.

What are your long term plans for your writing career?

I’d like to publish every single one of the twenty books I have on my computer. And then settle in and write about two books a year. I’d also like an Academy Award…you know, Best Adaptation? But I think I’ll just concentrate on writing my books and let that whole…Oscar thing…happen on its own.

Thank you, Mary, for a great interview!

Remember to leave a comment and enter to win a copy of Mary's book, PETTICOAT RANCH.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Petticoat Ranch by Mary Connealy

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Sometimes I'm drawn to a book by the picture on the cover, sometimes because it is written by an author I love, and sometimes it's the title. Petticoat Ranch by Mary Connealy was one of those 'title' books.

Both Mary and I belong to the ACFW - http://www.acfw.com/index.shtml. I remember when the news that her book had sold to Barbour went through the email loop. I loved the title from the get-go and knew I would buy this book when it came out.

Sometimes writing doesn't live up to the picture on the cover, sometimes a favorite author doesn't deliver in the manner I've become accustomed to, and sometimes a title just doesn't pan out.

I can tell you this did NOT happen with Mary Connealy's Petticoat Ranch.

If you love romance, if you love to laugh, and if you've ever struggled to do the thing you know you should, you will love Petticoat Ranch. Mary uses humor, danger and characters who take honest looks into their hearts and motives to deliver a lively, fun story that illustrates how God can break through our stubborness and desire for revenge against those who hurt us.

Some things I loved about this book:

1) The culture clash when a 'man's man' tangles with a feisty woman and four little girls.

2) The use of humor from one scene to the next. Mary employs a terrific technique that draws you from one scene to the next, but ending one scene with a statement and opening the next with the exact opposite from another character's point of view. Several of these had me laughing out loud and reading the next scene even when I needed to lay the book aside and get some work done.

3) The resolution was terrific. The ending had a cool twist that I didn't see coming.

4) The powerful presence of God thoughout the book.

I encourage you to go out and get this book, or click on this link to order it from Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Petticoat-Ranch-Barbour-Value-Fiction/dp/1597896470/sr=8-1/qid=1172169317/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/002-2114373-6312815?ie=UTF8&s=books You won't be disappointed.

Tomorrow, I will post my first author interview on this blog. Mary Connealy has agreed to be my test subject. :) Yay, Mary!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

This Week From CFBA

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John Aubrey Anderson
John was born five miles north of the setting for Abiding Darkness, a cotton country town within a rifle shot of two rivers, a bayou, a double handful of lakes, and endless acres of woods.
After graduating from Mississippi State, he flew six years in the Air Force then twenty-nine years for a major airline. And now he gets to write.
He and his wife have been married for forty some-odd years and live in Texas—about twenty miles south of the Red River. He spends the biggest part of his time writing; she’s immersed in leading a comprehensive, women’s Bible study.
They like greasy hamburgers and Dr. Peppers, most species of warm-blooded creatures (the kind that don’t normally bite), and spending July in the mountains.

ABOUT THE BOOK: Wedgewood Grey is the second book in the Black and White Chronicles. The first was Abiding Darkness (August, 2006).Mississippi cotton country . . . in the spring of 1960.
The War At Cat Lake is fifteen years in the fading past . . . but the demonic beings who launched that first battle, are alive and well at Cat Lake. Waiting.
Late on a Friday night, on a muddy little road a mile east of Cat Lake, a ten-year-old black child is forced to watch while a gang of white men beat his mother to death. Aided by Mose Washington, an old black man, the boy exacts a measure of his own revenge. When the sun comes up on Saturday morning, Mose and the boy are fugitives.
Missy Parker Patterson, who as a child stood at the epicenter of the first war, is married and living in Texas. In the aftermath that follows Mose Washington’s disappearance, she goes back to Cat Lake to discover that the demonic beings have been anticipating her return . . . and so begins the second battle of The War At Cat Lake.
In 1962, an old black man and his grandson move into the country near Pilot Hill, Texas. The people in the local area are told that the old gentleman’s name is Mose Mann—his grandson introduces himself as Bill.
However, the lives of the new arrivals are not as peaceful as they seem. The unassuming old black man and his grandson are being pursued by a triad of formidable and unrelenting adversaries . . . a ruthless political leader, an enduring lie, and an invisible army allied beneath the banner of a hatred for God.
Wedgewood Grey is a story about the impact of choices that real people—people like you and me—are sometimes forced to make.
The Author's Website: http://www.johnaubreyanderson.com/
Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0446579505

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Scare The Hair Right Off Your Head

Yesterday felt so weird. For the first time in months, I didn't have a daily word count. I've entered 'The Editing Zone.'

I tweaked and edited and rewrote the first 25 pages of Drums until I was sick of it. I'll give it one more going over late this week or early next, then it is off to the Genesis contest.

As for pages 26-305, those are going to be edited using a new tool. If you want to scare the hair right off your head as an author, write a first draft, then read:

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This book blows the mind. It covers every aspect of re-writing a novel that will supercede anything you've ever done before. The stakes will be higher, the characterization deeper, and the plot farther reaching and more complex than you ever imagined it could be. The problem is, if you read it, you see how you could apply it. Then, you have to actually DO it. Very scary territory. Doubts creep in. "What if I can't do this?" "What if I work on this for months and months, applying these techniques, and I still get rejected?" "What if I don't have the talent?" "What if I envision what needs to be done but fall short in the application?" "What if...?"

Then it's time for a little positive thinking. "Try. You might succeed." "You don't have to fix it all in a day. Take it one bite at a time. One chapter, or one character arc, or one plot thread." "You might as well try, because even if the ms doesn't reach the pinnacle you've aspired to, it will definitely be a better ms than when you started." "God will catch you if you leap out in faith."

One thing I discovered this week when thinking about deepening characteristics is: Give your character something that vexes him/her about himself/herself. Make the character self-aware of his flaws. Aren't we all aware of our flaws? Don't we strive to overcome them, only to blow it again and again? Aren't we often times our harshest critics? So with our characters. It will make them deeper, more easy to identify with, and it's a great chance to interject some humor into the situation.

Yesterday I printed off the ms of Drums of the North Star. Today I bought tab dividers for a looseleaf notebook. I'm going to divide the book into chapters, then insert a few blank pages for notes for each chapter. That way I can read the breakout book, take notes for where changes need to be made, easily find my chapters and what needs to go where, so when I edit, the notebook will have everything nice and tidy for me. At least this is the plan.

Plotting for Pam on Rye started today. I walked through the characters and some of the things that happen to them with Heather. She listened, gave input and laughed in the right places. It's a good start.

How do you approach editing, what resources and materials do you use, and how do you approach plotting a new work? Do you bounce ideas off someone? Do you use books, plot skeletons, snowflakes or dreams in the night?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Whew! and My Hero

The End. How sweet that feels.

Yesterday, after seven hours of straight writing at the library and more than 7000 words, the first draft of Drums of the North Star is done.

The ms came in at 95K+ words. I'm so pleased to have made it to the end by my self-imposed deadline.

I need to mention here my heroic husband. I got to thinking about all the things he's done to help me on my writing journey. Things like buying me a jump drive, a new laptop, designing me an office (how cool is that?), listening to plot ideas, taking me on a field trip to the location of Drums of the North Star and following me through lots of museums and listening while I chatted with curators. He allows me to take the occasional Saturday away from home to write, he's sent me on a writer's retreat in 2005, to a writer's conference last year, and another is on the calendar for this year. He's never doubted that I could do this and has done all in his power to help me. (I've told him all this and how much I love and appreciate him.) He lets me buy books, books and more books, and builds shelves for me to put them on. He Rocks!

Plans for this week? I received crits back on my Genesis entry and will tweak those, as well as do the crits for another friend. I'll work on the next dozen pages or so of Drums to submit to the critique group. Each time I get crits back, I learn so much. I'm trying to apply it as much as I can before I send the next batch on. I'm going to begin working on the Drums synopsis for a possible entry in the Barclay Sterling contest. The deadline is March 15th.

So, as always, though one goal is reached, more beckon. At least I don't have to wonder how I'm going to fill my time.

Friday, February 16, 2007


Yesterday, my plot screeched to a halt, more knotted than a Celtic circle. I had finished a particularly harrowing battle scene, fraught with danger, a rather surprising development with a secondary character, and lots of words. Things seemed to be going great. Then...nothing.

I looked at my plot cards. Hmm...the story had veered a bit from that path. What to do, what to do...

I did what seemed logical. I asked my 14-year-old daughter. I tell you, that girl, if she doesn't go into museum curation, as is her plan at the moment, could be a terrific editor somewhere.

"Heather, I don' t know what I want to do next in the story."

She looked up from her schoolwork and asked, with all the wisdom in the world, "Shouldn't you be asking the question, 'What do I NEED to happen next to bring the story to a logical conclusion.'?"

Silence as I pondered this pithy advice. She was right. I have a destination in mind. What is the next stop along the way? I unraveled a bit of POV dilemma as to whose head I wanted to be in, and a little light shone on the path. Though I didn't get much written yesterday, I did unsnarl the plot so I can move forward. The goal is still to type THE END by tomorrow.

Heather and I are stealing Saturday again to go to the library and work. This time a friend is joining us. Should be fun!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

This Week From CFBA

This week from CFBA: a bit of an anomaly. We're not blogging about a fiction book. We're blogging about a NON-fiction book. That's right, the one and only non-fiction review planned for the CFBA.

This week I'd like to introduce you to an invaluable tool for Christian Writers.


Sally E. Stuart is the author of thirty-four books and has sold more than one thousand articles and columns. Her long-term involvement with the Christian Writers' Market Guide as well as her marketing columns for the Christian Communicator, Oregon Christian Writers, and The Advanced Christian Writer, make her a sought-after speaker and a leading authority on Christian markets and the business of writing. Stuart is the mother of three and grandmother of eight.


Christian Writers’ Market Guide is a "must have' for any serious Christian writer that is looking to get published!

I can't recommend this book enough to anyone wanting to be published in Christian publications. In the 2007 edition, you will find more than 1200 markets, 740 periodicals, 350+ book publishers, 300+ markets for poetry, cards and specialties and more than 100 literary agents all representing Christian fiction and non-fiction. It also gives you comprehensive lists of contests, writers groups and conferences, search engines, pay rates and submission guidelines, editorial services and websites.

Another really cool feature of this year's edition is the inclusion of the entire text on CD. You can now search for specific topics, contacts or publishers. You can't get much cooler than that!


I will always be grateful for Sally Stuart's guide, because it led me to my agent. About two years ago, with all the hubris in the world, I prepared proposal packets for my fresh from the printer manuscript and shot them off to all the agents in the guide who accepted unpublished authors of Christian fiction. Within six weeks, I'd gotten two requests for a full ms and one offer of representation. They saw something in the rough diamond I sent out. (Believe me, that thing was like Lazarus...in the grave three days and it stinketh!) Actually, it's a great story, dear to my heart, however the writing was...stinky! But I digress. The truth is, without the Christian Writer's Market Guide, I'd never have found my agent, and never put my toe in the rock-face that is publishing to attempt the climb.

Please visit Amazon.com to check out this book. The link is: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1400071259

You can also visit the author's website by using this link: http://www.stuartmarket.com/

Monday, February 12, 2007

Super Sunday Signing

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending a book-signing by five fabulous ACFW authors. What a joyous time. I was blessed to meet each one. I also bought a copy of each of the books listed in this blog, so my TBR pile has swollen.

I've never been to a book-signing before, so I didn't really know what to expect. But it was more than just waiting in line to get a book with a name scrawled in it. It was a time of fellowship, of sharing, and laughter. These ladies did it right. Who were they, you ask, and what made the day so special?

First was Susan May Warren, author of TONS of books. She had her book Reclaiming Nick

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on the table (and isn't he easy on the old eyes?). She talked for perhaps ten minutes on how to make dating your spouse personal, how to listen for clues as to what they enjoy and incorporate that into your dating. Now all I need to know is how to make a date revolve around "Age of Empires II" computer games and woodworking. LOL

Next was Cyndy Salzmann, whose new book Dying to Decorate

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the first in the 'Friday Afternoon Club' mystery series came out earlier this year. She showed us how to dip strawberries in chocolate and make a 'bouquet' for Valentine's Day. She was so sweet and open and friendly and very easy to talk to.

Her assistant was Mary Connealy, whose book Petticoat Ranch (don't you just LOVE that title?)

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came out earlier this past year. She's a treasure. I so enjoyed talking with her. It turns out we have the same agent, and her road to publication is a story in perseverance. I think I've made a new friend in Mary.

Then Jill Elizabeth Nelson, whose first book Reluctant Burglar came out with Multnomah this past year

gave us tips on how to treat our spouse like a stranger. Actually, it was a little devotional on how to treat those closest to us with the same courtesy we'd treat a stranger with. Quite often we're more polite and care more about what someone we've never met thinks of us than what those folks who have to live with us think. Her story of how the idea of Reluctant Burglar came to be was fascinating, and I've already read several chapters of it since yesterday.

The final presentation was from Judy Baer, author of a zillion books. I purchased one of her latest, Norah's Ark,

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because the title was so clever. What a great name for a pet store. Judy gave a presentation on how to be a good listener. Judy, when she's not writing great novels, is a life coach. From what I saw and heard yesterday, I bet she's a good one.

These ladies made yesterday's book-signing a joy for me. They had prizes, presents and pizazz. I'd do it all over again. Thank you, ladies!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Revisiting Goals

This week over on Kaye Dacus' blog, she posted about goals. Being Deliberate, Determined and aiming at a particular Destination. I encourage you to click on the link to the left and check out the post.

In light of that, I've decided to revisit my goals for 2007, previously posted on the blog in January, and see how I'm doing six weeks later.

2007 Writing Goals:

1) Finish the first draft of Drums of the North Star (this will mean 1500 words a day, 5 days a week, for six more weeks.) I've been diligent in working on the manuscript. It now stands at just over 80,000 words, the original projected word count. However, this first draft is going to run closer to 90,000 words before it's all finished. So I've allowed myself a few more days to accomplish this goal. The former deadline was Feb. 14th. The new deadline is Feb. 17th. I'm 'stealing' that Saturday to wrap up the first draft.

2) Write out plot cards for new book--Pam on Rye--by 3/20/07. Lots of composting going on with this one. I'm hoping to have all the plot cards done well before this date to give myself a little more time on the deadline for the first draft.

3) Write first draft of Pam on Rye by 6/29/07. This will be pushing it, but since we will be done with school, and hopefully this addition too, I will be able to focus a lot of concentrated effort on getting this first draft done in the allotted three months.

4) Write synopsis/proposal packet for Drums of the North Star, including series ideas. This one might come up sooner than I'd anticipated, if I do enter the Barclay Sterling contest, as they require a synopsis and query letter with the submission.

5) Write synopsis/proposal packet for Pam on Rye, including series ideas. Haven't even started this one.

6) Edit and revise Drums of the North Star, particularly the first three chapters and synopsis. Thanks to some terrific critique partners, this one has already begun.

7) Edit and revise Pam on Rye, particularly the first three chapters and synopsis. No action here as all attention has been on Drums of the North Star.

8) Attend ACFW Conference in September. This is still the plan. I'm getting excited already.

9) Follow up on manuscript request of my first novel, Beauty for Ashes. The follow-up came. A polite 'no, thank-you.' At least I can cross it off my list of things to do.

10) Pray, pray, pray! (this one should be #1...or #1-10) Still praying. And God is working.

11) I'm adding in here join a critique group. (Hee hee hee. I love lists, and I have been known to add things to my list for the day that I've already done, just so I can cross them off. I like to look back on the day/year and see I've gotten at least a FEW things accomplished.)

12) Also adding: Enter the Genesis contest for 2007. I'm still waiting on one set of crits before I do a final polish and submit. Rest assured, I'll post when I turn it in.

So, some things are ahead of schedule, some things have been crossed off, and some remain to do. Do you have a list of goals for 2007? Are you working on them?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

This Week From CFBA

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This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducting The Longing Season (Bethany House July, 2006) by Christine Schaub.


Christine Schaub is the author of the MUSIC OF THE HEART series, including Finding Anna, the “rest of the story” behind the writing of the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” (October 2005) and The Longing Season, the story behind “Amazing Grace” (July 2006) with Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Books.

In 2003, Christine won the “On the Page” screenwriting contest at Screenwriting Expo 2 in Los Angeles. Her one-page story, written on-site in 24 hours for Jacqueline Bisset, was selected by the actress as the best Oscar Wilde-type comedy for her persona.

While working in freelance corporate communications, Christine completed three feature-length screenplays, including a drama/comedy, romantic comedy, and sci-fi action/drama; developed four biopic teleplays for the stories behind the hymns; and published an online column for the MethodX website (Upper Room Ministries).

Christine honed her writing skills after more than 15 years in corporate communications for healthcare, pharmaceutical, and entertainment companies. She has also been a featured conference speaker on working with at-risk youth and changed lives in the classrooms with her creative presentation style.

Christine's love for the arts and creativity have taken her from church platforms to civic and professional stages, performing classics and dramas from her own pen.

Christine graduated from Anderson University with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications. She has served on numerous boards and committees, usually as Communications Chair, and has received both regional and national awards in writing and design.


All of the books in the MUSIC OF THE HEART series are based on a hymns and their histories. The Longing Season is about one of the greatest redemption stories of all time: John Newton and his song, Amazing Grace.

Nature conspires against him, tossing the ship like a toy. Directionless--just like his life.
It seems his odyssey will end here, in the cold Atlantic.
Grief and terror grip his heart, but he will not surrender...not yet.
She reads the sentence again and again.
The first day I saw you I began to love you.
He'd written the words, sealed and posted them, then vanished.

She has a choice--turn toward the future, or wait, wating and hoping.

And so begins her season of longing.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A discrepancy and an epiphany

The snow is beautiful here today. Sunshine on six inches of new powder. Of course, I always think it is more beautiful when I don't have to go out anywhere in it.

Today was an excellent writing day. After going back to my research books last night reading, littering the pages with post-it notes and bookmarks, (I canNOT write in my books, I get ill at the thought of it.) and 'composting' ideas and scenes, I sat down this morning and made seven pages of detailed notes on a particularly intense section of the book. Working from these notes this afternoon, I wrote 3600 more words on the story and am about a third of the way through this particular battle scene. This has led me to believe the story might very well go over the projected 80K words, ranging closer to 85K before it is finished. I'm not worried about this, as I will no doubt cut and add during the editing process. The goal is to have a ms between 85-90K words when it's all done.

I've also discovered discrepancies in the historical record regarding the actions of former Governor and military appointee Henry Hastings Sibley. Was he appropriately cautious in his dealings with the Dakota in the uprising of 1862, or was he a political sycophant who wished above all things to avoid any military responsibility when things went wrong and wanted to reap the accolades when things went right? Sources differ on this, even, or especially eye witness sources. There seems to be evidence to support both ideas, but it depends on who you talk to and what their agenda is as well. The question is, what makes for a better novel?

But that wasn't my epiphany. Last night I turned to my husband and said, "I write novels."

He gave me one of those single eyebrow raised are-you-feeling-okay looks. He said, "Yes, I know."

I had to explain it to him. "No, I mean, I write novels. I no longer try to write novels, I actually do it. I'm almost finished with my fifth novel. I am a novelist." You see, I started out in fan fiction, and the first two novels are stories I took from my fan fiction writing and changed, morphed and groomed to be Christian romance novels. Then I tried my hand at writing two contemporary romance novels. Yesterday it occurred to me that I'm no longer 'trying my hand.' I don't try to write novels, I DO write novels. I had this vague idea that it was publication that made the novelist, but now I know. It is the writing that makes the novelist. A woman who has written five novels can firmly say, "I write novels. I am a novelist."

Sometimes it's the little things...LOL

Friday, February 02, 2007

Contest Fever?

How do you know if you have contest fever? A year and a half ago, I had entered three writing contests and gotten lots of good feedback. But I made the decision not to enter anymore contests, at least for awhile, because of the cost involved, the long waits between submitting and the results, and because I needed to practice the things I'd received critiques on and get better at them before I submitted anything again.

So, here I am, 18 months later, on the cusp of entering another contest, the ACFW Genesis. Why is it a good time now?

1) I think I am a better writer than I was when I first entered contests, but I won't know for sure until I put my work out there for someone to judge.

2) I have a super critique group with two amazing writers who are giving my entry a fine combing and doing a practice judging before I submit. One has been a Genesis judge before, so she should have lots of good points. The other has such a sharp eye for detail and using just the right word in her work. I'm hoping some will rub off on me. :)

3) If I should be blessed enough to final, (hey, why not dream a little?) the two judges who would be reviewing my entry's category are ones I would LOVE to have see my work.

A friend accused me of getting contest fever when I told her about the Genesis. I guess I do, because I sure am excited about entering. In fact, I even looked at the Barclay Sterling this year. Might take a stab at that one too. :)