Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Party Prep

Today is all about Party Prep. We have friends and family over on New Year's Day every year to eat, play games, and watch football.
Today is the grocery store run. There are things we have every year, and new things we try. Everyone brings something to share, and we all eat way too much.
Then, of course, we need to get the Christmas decorations put away so there will be room for everyone, and get the house spiffed up. And I need to remember to buzz by the church to borrow a table to set up in the living room. New Year's Eve for us is always about the prep for the next day instead of staying up late to ring in the new year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Meetings



Today is a day of meetings. Bookkeeping-related meetings, corporate meetings, and for me, a lot of note-taking and listening.
It's the time of year when the business I work for sets goals for the coming year and analyzes the previous year. They decide who does what job and who gets what pay. I sit and take notes, type up the minutes of the meetings, and organize the corporate books.
I'll also empty out the 2008 files in preparation for 2009.
So many analogies to me made to the writing life. As January first looms, it's time to look back at 2008 to see what worked well and what didn't. It's a time to strategize about the upcoming year, decide what jobs will be done and in what order.
Knowing the end of year for me is always loaded with bookkeeping duties, I took time last week to analyze my writing goals for 2009. I'll continue to fine-tune those goals through out the year and hopefully remember to post them here near the first of each month.
If you're busy this week, at least be 'composting' those goals you want to accomplish in 2009, then post them on your blog and let me know. I'd like to see what you all are up to. Together, we can make '09 productive.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ruts



This is a picture of wagon ruts worn into the sandstone/limestone of the Oregon Trail. Wagon after wagon passed in the tracks of those that went before, creating deep gouges into the rocks. At least the wagons that came after knew where the trail was. Just set your wheels in the ruts and go.
Last night on the way home from a Christmas party, I mentioned to my DH that I missed my rut. I missed my routine, my comfortable schedule. For the last couple of weeks, with all the holiday stuff and the work stuff, the end of semester stuff for the daughter, and getting the homeschooling to a place that was good to break off for two weeks, I haven't written or edited anything.
Nothing writing-related will happen this week either. At least that's what I had resigned myself to, but I realized last night as I was lying in bed waiting for sleep to come, there is one writing-related thing I can do, one that will help things considerably when I can get back to writing.
Plotting in my head, getting to know characters, refining ideas, pulling on story-threads to explore consequences and possibilities. I can keep my mind sharp, in full-creation mode, even though I'm not writing anything at the moment. This daydreaming is the life-blood of my writing process. Who knew I could put my world-class zoning-out capabilities to work?
My mom and teachers must be amazed that I've found a way to channel daydreaming into something profitable.
Anyway, I miss my rut, my routine, my restful regime, but I'll make the most of the imagination time until I can get back to writing.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Post Christmas Friday Five

I hope you and yours had a very Merry Christmas. I know our family did.

Five things I did on Christmas Day:

1. Ate too much. Ugh!

2. Watched Kung Fu Panda.

3. Played Zoo Tycoon with my daughter while we watched the Spurs beat the Suns with a last second buzzer-beater three from a relatively unknown Spurs player.

4. Made the Vetsch Family traditional Christmas Waffles for breakfast.

5. Was thankful, for my family, for their generosity, and mostly for my Savior.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

TV Trends



TV these days ain't what it used to be. Shows aren't aired like they were when I was a kid.
Have you noticed that some shows don't start until January? Have you noticed that some shows don't start until late September, then are done for the season in mid-December? And even if you do get a whole season, it's not a full 25 or 30 episodes, it's maybe 18.
So here I sit, mourning that Chuck won't be on until February. That I missed the last episode of the fall season of The Mentalist, and they hadn't put it up on the website the last time I checked. (I'll check again soon, on the off chance, but they took all the other episodes off too.)
Speaking of The Mentalist, I really enjoy that show. Simon Baker is fabulous in it, as is Robin Tenney. They really work well together. I'm happy that the show is #1 this year. Usually if I like a show, it is the kiss of death and cancellation happens swiftly.
Does that happen to you? What trends have y0u noticed in tv in recent years?

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Friday Five



This week's Friday Five is:
Five things I need to get done before Jan. 1st
1. Inventory. This one looms large. Not only the counting, but the costing.
2. Meet with business accountant.
3. End of year business meeting, typing of minutes, etc. for company book. Wonder if I will get a raise this year?
4. Meet with business lawyer.
5. And the most urgent at the moment: Plan a dessert to bring to church on Sunday for a welcome home dinner for David R. who is a United States Marine and just graduated from Dive School.
What do you have coming up in the next ten days or so?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Goals and Discipline

Discipline is what you have to do to make yourself do the thing you are struggling to do.
Isn't that a gem? I found it at Routines for Writers, a blog I've been reading for awhile now. They've been talking about priorities and goals this week, which reminded me that I haven't checked on my progress in the goal department for a long while. How did 2008 go? In strolling through the blog, I realize it has been FOREVER since I updated my goals. But I did accomplish pretty much everything on my list the last time I posted in April. (Oh, the shame!)
Goals for 2009
1. Editor Revisions for The Bartered Bride. Not exactly sure when these will arrive in my inbox, but whenever they do, they have priority, so I'm putting them number one.
2. Final read through for The Marriage Masquerade and send to editor. This happens sometime after February. The manuscript has been critiqued and revised, so it should only need a little tweaking before sending it off.
3. Edit The Engineered Engagement, my 2008 NaNoWriMo novel. At the moment I need to cut words, reassess my heroine's goal, add a character and delete a character. This is priority number one after the editor revisions on The Bartered Bride.
4. Turn in The Engineered Engagement. This happens sometime after June 2009.
5. Finish final edits on Clara and the Cowboy to send to editor who requested it. The manuscript currently rests with a critique partner. When she's finished with it, I'll go in and make one last round of revisions based on her comments, then get this story out the door to my agent and on to the editor.
6. Begin plotting and writing sequels to Clara and the Cowboy: Lily and the Lawman and Maggie and the Maverick. If the above mentioned editor wishes to contract this series, (praying!) then I'll need to get busy on the next two books. So far they are only a paragraph each, though I have a fun opening line for Lily and the Lawman.
7. Prepare proposal packet and three chapters of a Gilded Age mystery/romance I've got kicking around in my head, including pitch sheet and materials to pitch at ACFW. I have an editor in mind to talk to about this series. And I have a name for my hero picked out. :)
8. Register for ACFW Denver.
9. Attend ACFW Denver.
10. Read 5 books on craft this year, focusing on characterization, conflict, and endings.
How about you? Are you a goal-setter? Do you like lists? Have you given any thought to 2009 and how to make what you want a reality instead of just a dream?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wednesday WI


The scale nudged down again this week. WOOHOO! I've now lost a total of 60 pounds.
I'm hoping to just maintain through the holidays, make good choices to balance out the sweets and opportunities to overindulge that surround the celebration of the Christmas season.
Now, if I could just convince myself to get on the treadmill more faithfully. I really miss walking outside.
On another note, for our anniversary yesterday, my DH and I purchased the blu-ray edition of The Mummy, Curse of the Dragon Emperor. Of course this necessitated a late night download of the latest firmware update for the blu-ray player and subsequent installation on the box.
Remember when all you had to do was shove a tape into a slot and press play?
I miss my 8-track...the one in the 1973 Chevy Blazer that I used to drive...and my Oak Ridge Boys 8-tracks, and Statler Brothers, and Charley Pride and Jerry Reed...those were the days!

Monday, December 15, 2008

My life is like a stained glass panel


I often have what I consider to be profound thoughts late at night. In the cold light of day, they don't always stand the 'profoundness' test, but this one I had late Saturday night while in the throes of killer insomnia, did stand the test.
Have you ever thought how much your life as a child of God is like a stained-glass panel? As I mentioned in a previous post, my son enjoys watching a PBS how-to show all about stained glass. I often watch with him, and the correlations between my life and the glass have emerged show by show. Here are some that I've come up with, though I'm sure there are many.
1) There is a Designer with a plan the glass knows nothing about. The glass has no say in this plan, it is the desire of the Designer that comes first. The glass exists to please the Designer. We exist at the pleasure of and for the glory of our Designer. His plans are perfect and being worked out according to the pleasure of His will. We are not privy to the entire design, but we know it will be for our good and His glory.
2) In order to be of any use--and this seems counter-intuitive--the glass must be broken. A single sheet of whole glass is pretty enough, but it doesn't suit the plan of the Designer. He wants to fit and join together the pieces of our lives into a glorious whole that reflects His glory.
3) Sometimes the breaking is bold, sharp, and quick. Large chunks cracked off with loud noise and big tools. A move, a job-loss, an emotional upheaval, a death of a loved one...there are many ways that a sudden breaking in our life can occur. This is when we must hold on to the truth that the Designer is in control and has a plan for our good.
4) Sometimes the breaking is slow and grinding. One of the cool things I think appeals to my son with the glass-work is all the neat tools. One of the tools is a grinding wheel. The Designer holds a piece of glass up to the diamond-encrusted wheel and grinds to powder any part of the glass He doesn't want to use. Have you ever been held up to the grinder by God? It might be through the persistent, gentle correction of a friend. It might be through a long journey of suffering like an illness. It might even be through a particularly tough set of Sunday School lessons (KEVIN!) that makes you think about things you wish you didn't have to.
5) Heat is always applied to meld pieces of the glass together. Do you have any heat in your life? Stress, decisions to be made, holiday cookies and cards and caroling to see accomplished? We all have heat. Sometimes the heat is in having to confront a friend. Sometimes it is in having to say no to someone or something. Sometimes it is persecution from an unexpected source. Heat takes all sorts of forms in our life, but without it, the glass can't be melded together.
6) Stained glass looks best when seen through a powerful light. What good does it do to put a beautiful panel of stained glass flat on a table-top? It was meant to be viewed through strong light, sunlight, where every beautiful line and piece shows and glows. Our lives are just like that. We are best displayed when the light of God's Word shines through us. When people can see the Glory of God illuminating all the breaks, grinds, and heat-induced seams in our lives.
How about you? Have you been broken up, ground up, or heated up lately? Is God fitting together the pieces of your life into a beautiful whole for His glory? Is the light of God showing through you, making your life shine?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I made the papers...


...and I didn't have to break the law to do it. :)


Click here to read the article. The link should be good for about seven days.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Friday Five



I am addicted to cooking shows on PBS. I love to watch them, though I don't like to cook, and often they make things I would never eat anyway. Esp. the seafood.
But today's Friday Five is:
My five favorite cooking shows on PBS.
1. Lidia's Italy. I love this show with Lidia Bastianich.
2. America's Test Kitchen. MMMMMMMMM.
3. Mexico: One Plate at a Time, with Rick Bayless. Such interesting ingredients and methods.
4. Made in Spain. Maybe it's Jose's accent, maybe it's the fabulous pictures of Spain...dunno, but it's a fun one. (I'm watching it right now.)
5. Cooking with Jacques and Julia. This one's a classic. They worked so well together.
Do you watch cooking shows? Do you watch a how-to show demonstrating something you would never do? Am I alone in this???

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A real Puzzler




This past week the puzzle bug has bit me. And not just any puzzles will do. I've been building Charles Wysocki puzzles. I've long been a fan of Wysocki's Americana paintings, and I love the jigsaw puzzles made from the paintings.

I own several of them, and have been perusing his website for others.


Last night I built the one above, entitled The Pickwick Cottage. The little wagon in front is painted with the words "Betsy's Chocolates on Cape Cod." My husband, when he got home from his church board meeting helped me with the sky and the cottage. We turned on one of the music channels and listened to Dean Martin, Eartha Kitt, Eddie Fischer, and others sing Christmas carols. Peaceful.
Recently, my son has become fascinated with a show on glassworking on the Create Channel. When he was quite small, he saw a craftsman making glass figures with a blowtorch and glass rods. Ever since, the idea of working with glass has captivated him. I could see him as a glass artist.

It reminds me over and over that God is a creative God and He has designed His people to be creative as well. Whether it is writing novels, blowing glass, or painting charming Americana vignettes, creativity is all around us.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wednesday WI



It's been awhile since I dedicated a post to the Wednesday Weigh In. Mostly because nothing of note had been happening on that front for weeks.
Good news. This week the scale nosed down into a new place for the first time in a long time. Yay!
Good news. Blood sugar testing continues to show that the levels are very good, all within the normal range.
Odd news. I've been drinking Slim Fast shakes for breakfast. Mostly because I think they are tasty. :) But the weird thing is...my cat also thinks they are tasty. She whines at my bedroom door, then when I get up, twines herself around my legs until I am in danger of tripping and or punting her inadvertantly. If I don't pour her a little in a saucer, she will whine and cry and as soon as I sit down with my can of Slim Fast, she tries to jump up in my lap, on the table, or on the desk and stick her whiskers in my face. Little weirdo.

Monday, December 08, 2008

A good story



Today I watched the western Broken Trail. What a good story. Be warned, there's a considerable amount of violence. But it has all the hallmarks of a great tale. Opposition, conflict, relationships, danger, love, the best and the worst in human nature, unwilling heroes, and a smash-bang finish.

I love most all westerns, and I love westerns with Robert Duvall in particular. Lonesome Dove, Open Range, Broken Trail. I could watch them over and over. There's just something about the American West that just lends itself to heroic characters thrown into conflict that leaves them hard choices that define character.

Do you have a favorite genre? Do you have a favorite situation/era/style that lends itself well to conflict and romance?

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Friday Five



This week's Friday Five. Okay, so I totally thought today was Thursday until I received my Fabulous Friday Deals email from CBD.com. But I'm glad I waited to post because I got a really exciting email from my friend Stephanie Morrill. Her debut novel is now available for pre-order on Amazon. Click here to order Me, Just Different.

Five great things about Stephanie Morrill.

1. First of all, we met at the Florida Christian Writer's Conference when we were both in Angela Hunt's Advanced Fiction Clinic. We hit it off right away because Stephanie is an awesome person.

2. She's got an adorable daughter whom I called "the Stowaway" when we roomed together at the 2007 ACFW Conference in Dallas. (Steph was about 7 months pregnant at the time.)

3. Her book, The Escape Route, which MUST be published some day is one of the most thought provoking stories I've ever read. Her character, Jasper, is so complex. I STILL don't know how I feel about him, but it is a testament to Steph's writing that after more than two years, I still think about that character.

4. She's a whiz at naming characters.

5. She's a Kansan. :) Yay for Jayhawks!

Go check out the amazon link, and drop a line of congrats here for Stephanie. I know it will mean a lot to her.

Something New



One thing I've discovered with my recent weight loss is that my internal thermometer is all out of whack. I'm not sure what whack is, but my thermometer is out of it.
Without all the extra insulation, I find myself getting cold. The other night the thermostat on the gas fireplace said it was 68 degrees in the bedroom, and I was freezing! I turned on the fireplace to warm things up. When the temp hit 70 degrees, I was roasting! That's a pretty small window.
I've noticed that my hands get very cold now when I type. Yesterday I broke down and bought a pair of fingerless gloves (in navy blue) to help with the problem. Though they felt a little bulky at first, they seem like they will keep the chill away while still allowing me to type. Yay!
Do you have fingerless gloves? Is your thermometer out of whack too?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

News


Have you ever noticed how cool God is?
I've been wondering how marketing my novels will work out for me. I'm not by nature a pushy person (though some may disagree) so the idea of shoving my book under someone's nose is distasteful to me. When the question of marketing came up on the ACFW loop from time to time, the veteran published authors would always say "Write the best book you can. Don't worry about marketing until you sign a contract."
So I stuck with that. Safe, sensible, and very Scarlett O'Hara. I'll think about that another day.
That day is dawning. With the turning of the calendar from November to December, the release date for my first novel has gone from a year + to 11 months from now. Both cool and freaky! What can I do to get the word out about my novels?
Enter NaNoWriMo. Remember back in late October, when I was thinking of chickening out of attending the Kick Off party? And how glad I was that I attended? Well, I'm even more grateful now.
Our local newspaper, the Rochester Post-Bulletin, is printing an article that followed three WriMos through the month of November, and I'm 0ne of them! Tom and Suzanne and I have been interviewed, in person and via email several times each, and today a photographer from the paper came by and took some photos of me and my beloved laptop. I got to talk about my novels, the upcoming release of The Bartered Bride, the sequel, The Marriage Masquerade, and the third book in the series, my NaNo novel, The Engineered Engagement.
Another cool thing was that the photographer, a very nice woman, when she found out my novel was set in 1906 Duluth and centered on shipbuilding, told me that her grandfather worked on ore boats out of Duluth from the 1920's to the 1960's. She's always been interested in Duluth shipping history.
All of this came about because I obeyed the Lord's prompting to get out of my comfort zone and go meet some other WriMos.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Turkey Day - a little late


We had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with my husband's family last week. Good food, good fellowship, and a marathon game of Apples to Apples.
There are a lot of plusses when you go to be company for Thanksgiving. No frantic house-cleaning, no stress-filled trying-to-get-everything-on-the-table-at-the-same-time cooking, no hunting for the card table trying to decide who sits at the kid table madness. Guests just show up with a pie or two and skate through the holiday.
Big thanks to Linda and Mike for hosting us again this year.
The only drawback to going to someone else's house for Thanksgiving is...no turkey leftovers!
In order to solve that problem, I'm roasting a turkey today. As soon as I get back from the accountant. The house is going to smell gooooooooood.

Monday, December 01, 2008

December!!!!


December is here already!
NaNo is over for 2008, and the wrap up party is scheduled for this coming Saturday. A chance for the local WriMos to get together and socialize without laptops in between.
Here we've got the tree up and I wrapped presents today. I always like to get them wrapped and under the tree so I'm not in danger of sending a kid to search in a cupboard for something where I've hidden one of their gifts. Also, it gives me almost a month to remember where I hid everything...I've been known to forget until Christmas Day that I forgot to wrap a gift.
Last night we went caroling with a group from church. It was a lot of fun, though driving in the icy snow in the pitch dark was more of a challenge than I realized. Next year I will wear my snow boots.
Have your holiday preparations begun already?

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Friday Five

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The picture is of a few units of lumber in one of the warehouses at Vetsch Hardwoods.

Today starts the preliminary inventory for the business, so I thought I'd tell you five things that go into inventory-ing Vetsch Hardwoods:

1. I am the scribe. I write down the species, the supplier and the footages or numbers of sheets. I also transcribe my notes into a spreadsheet so we can cost out the lumber. The entire process takes about 7 hrs from start to finish.

2. My kids are the counters. They count sheets of plywood or layers of lumber and pencil the total on the top of the pile. My husband comes behind and figures the footage and tells me what supplier it came from.

3. My kids climb like monkeys. The lumber is stacked several units high, as well as stored in racks. As a confirmed land-dweller, I get dizzy when I stand on a step-stool, so I try not to look when they shinny up the end of a pile of lumber ten or fifteen feet off the ground.

4. Sometimes it is so cold when we do inventory that the ink in my pen freezes. I keep several pens with me and rotate them from an inner pocket to keep them fluid.

5. We count boards at the end of November, but we get to repeat the experience at the end of December. It's hard to contain my joy....NOT!

How about you? Have you ever taken inventory? We used to do it monthly when I worked at McDonald's in high school. I'm glad we don't have to do a monthly inventory at Vetsch Hardwoods. I'd need a raise!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sugar Free Pumpkin Pie Recipe


A few times a year (very few) my kitchen resembles the Betty Crocker Proving Grounds. Today is one of those days. Just a few minutes ago, I slid a couple of pumpkin pies into the oven to bake. It's beginning to smell a lot like the holidays around here.
As a diabetic, I've been wondering how the holidays will affect my blood sugar. I've been doing well, no spikes or any numbers over 120, and that's at half the medication (which I forget to take far to often.) But it seems that everything 'holiday food' is loaded with carbs.
So I was very thankful when dear friend Margrethe Higgins gave me her recipe for sugar-free pumpkin pie. I tasted her wonderful pie at a church dinner recently, and boy howdy, you can't tell it from the recipe on the back of the Libby's can. It's delish! So I thought I'd share it here for you. Even if you're not diabetic, it won't hurt to watch the carbs a bit.
Sugar Free Pumpkin Pie
1 9 inch pie crust pastry
1 can (16 oz) pumpkin
1 can (12 oz) evaporated skim milk (I bought Carnation fat free evap. milk - easy to find)
3 eggs
3/4 cup Splenda (I used a little less at Margrethe's suggestion)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
Beat all ingredients together and pour into fluted pie crust. Bake at 450 for 15 mins, then lower oven temp to 350 and bake until knife inserted near center comes out clean (about 40 mins).
Dietary Exchange:
1 milk, 1/2 starch, 1 fat.
And as I said, it tastes delicious. Just like the real thing.
Have a happy and Splend-id (get it?) holiday.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Time to Collect the Goodies


I verified my NaNo novel today and here's one of the goodies you get when you win. Kinda cool, eh?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Craft Books


This week I picked up some new craft books. From the titles, you can see which way my brain is headed.
So far I've only read one of them, and WOW! It was like attending an entire writing conference taught by mystery masters. And I was happy to read that these masters recommended the same mysteries I have been reading and enjoying for years. Dick Francis, Ellis Peters, Elizabeth Peters, Arthur Conan Doyle, Dashiell Hammett.
Here are the books I checked out and will be reading this week:
1. Writing Mysteries, edited by Sue Grafton.
2. Writing the Mystery: A Start-to-Finish Guide for Both Novice and Professional, by G. Miki Hayden
3. How to Write a D*mn Good Mystery, by James N. Frey
4. You Can Write a Mystery, by Gillian Roberts
A few weeks ago I queried the ACFW email loop, asking about historical mysteries in the CBA. You know how many responses I got? ZERO, zip, zilch, nada, nothing, diddly-squat, bagel, goose-egg. The only series I can think of in the CBA right now that sort of comes close to what I'm looking for is Sara Mills' Allie Fortune series about a female PI during WW2.
So either this is a truly untapped market in the CBA, or no one is publishing it because no one is reading it. Guess I'll find out which is which.
What books are you reading? Any mysteries you recommend?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday


Today I got to give a devotional at a baby shower. I used the letters that spelled the baby's name: Gabriel. Seven balloons, one for each letter. As I got to that point, I'd give a balloon to the mama. The idea came from a wedding shower I was at, though at that one, the speaker used different colors to represent different blessings and challenges the bridal couple would face.
G=Gift. Children are a gift from God.
A=Awake. God never sleeps, which is a comfort, because mothers of newborns don't either.
B=Brothers and Sisters. Gabriel has two siblings who are big helpers for their mama, and his mother and father have many brothers and sisters in Christ who want to assist them in raising Gabriel to be the man God wants him to be.
R=Red Letter Days. All those firsts for Gabriel. We look forward to the day when he first understands the gospel and his need for salvation.
I=Instruction. There are lots of opportunities for a mother to instruct her child, but no instruction is more important than to bring them up in the nurture and instruction of the Lord.
E=Energy. Little boys have more than their fair share of energy, but when we as mothers wait on the Lord, He will renew our strength.
L=Love. We love our children with a ferocity that can nearly overwhelm us. But the amazing truth is, God loves our children even more than we do. He gave His own Son to save my children. A glorious and humbling truth.
I went to the write in this afternoon and produced nothing but dust. The story is a little off track. I've printed the ms out and will read it, making pencil edits and getting it back into the shape I want it to be before setting it aside to work on editor revisions for another ms.

Friday, November 21, 2008

NaNo 21



Woohoo! I crossed the 50K word mark! Woohoo!
Small issue. The book isn't finished. I figure about 3K more words to wrap up the plot, so I'll have to go in and cut some words. Not a problem as I already know a couple places that need to go.
Feels good to have accomplished a NaNo novel.

The Friday Five



The Friday Five
Over the past few months, my husband and I have instituted Date Night. Every Friday, the two of us go out on a date. This has been so cool. A chance to talk, to share, to hang out with my best friend of all time. We go out to dinner. And I'm really looking forward to going out tonight.
So, today's Friday Five:
Five restaurants we love to go to in Rochester.
1. Carlos O'Kelly's. Occasionally called Juan O'Casey's or Alvarez O'Doul's, from a joke that my father can never remember the name of that place. He knows it's a Mexican and Irish combination, but after that, he's lost. Javier O'Toole, Pedro O'Meara.
2. TGIF. I love their crispy fried green beans.
3. Baker's Square. Chicken-cheddar-bacon melt. With fries. And Honey mustard on the side.
4. Pannekoeken. They have a raspberry-chicken-pecan salad that is yummmmmy.
5. The food court at the mall. You can get just about anything you're craving at the time, and you get to browse in Barnes and Noble. Now THAT is a cool date.
And always we are home by nine. Cuz we watch Numb3rs with the kids. :)
How about you? Any favorite restaurants? Got a date nite? I highly recommend them.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

NaNo 20





No progress on the novel today. Too many other things going on. Only ten more days to November. The holidays will be upon us before we know it.
I did get a devotional finished for a baby shower on Saturday, and prepped food for a funeral at church.
I didn't sleep too well last night. Trying hard to remember that God is in control.
Oh, and just for kicks, ElfYourself is back. But beware of embedding it on your blog. I thought I was posting a video of my family doing the Charleston as elves and it turned out to be...well, let's just say it was something else altogether.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

NaNo 19




NaNo 19. 2989 words. If I had known how close I was to 3K when I quit, I'd have knocked out those last 11 words.
The total now stands at 45057. Woohoo! 90% of the way done.
Wednesday Weigh In...STILL the same. Blah. I walked on the treadmill today and boosted the incline again. I could feel it in the backs of my legs, so hopefully I was burning something besides time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

NaNo 18





NaNo day 18. 2375 words today for a totalof 42411. Had a major breakthrough epiphany for my heroine regarding the spiritual thread for this book.
Have you ever noticed that our greatest strengths can be and often are also our greatest weaknesses? That's what my heroine, Josie, discovered about herself today. A special ability and gift from God, when used incorrectly and for our own desires, often becomes the very thing that leads us away from the Lord.
This last week has been one of feast or famine as regarding how the words are flowing. Today, I could feel things going rough to begin with, but as I thought about how much Josie and I are alike, I felt the words flowing more freely. And one character, the voice of wisdom and correction in Josie's life, kept saying things that I needed to hear. Weird...in a cool God sort of way.
Anybody ever had something like that happen to them while they were working?

Monday, November 17, 2008

NaNo 17




Woohoo! cracked 40K words on the ms. Only 10K to go!
Today I've been busier than a one-armed wallpaper hanger. School, a little bookwork, working on a devotional for an upcoming baby shower (This Saturday, so I need to get cracking on it) errands, piano lessons for offspring, and whatnot. I'm glad today I only needed to write about 1300 words to hit my goal for the day.
But this past couple of weeks has taught me something. I haven't been busier than usual. My weeks follow a pretty set pattern with only the occasional change, like a dentist/orthodontist appt, or like this week, a funeral at church to help organize and prepare food for. For the most part, my week's rhythm stays the same. And though I'm busy, I can produce fiction if I make myself sit down to do it. I'm averaging better than two thousand words a day this month.
I've also learned that chapter-by-chapter outlines are my friend. I put a lot of work into plotting/prepping/planning this novel so that when it came time to write, I would know what I was doing and the target I was shooting at with each scene. The hardest times of writing this month so far have been when I've veered off this path and wandered too far from the outline. Getting the story back on track has produced a marked increase in words for the day. Yay for this outline.
I never thought I would say that, but it's true. I love having this plan, this story all mapped out. Serendipitous things still happen, strange characters appear or pieces I didn't even know would fit together suddenly lock into place. That is so cool, and when it works, makes me look like a genius. I love it when that happens.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

NaNo 15





Today was an okay writing day. Got better than 2K words with a total of 38787.
I went to the local write in. Not sure if I will keep any of the words I wrote today. I felt like I was just filling in 'stuff' in the story. Maybe too much introspection, not enough action. Not sure, but at least I wrote.
I also got to do an interview. A local reporter dropped in at the coffee shop to interview Wrimos for an article about the types of people who take on the NaNo challenge and how they make NaNo fit into their lives. I got to talk about The Kennebrae Bride series and the Heartsong Presents Bookclub. How cool is that?
Hopefully I'll get a copy of the article when it runs and that will definitely go into the scrapbook Heather made for me.

Friday, November 14, 2008

NaNo 14




NaNo day 14. Man, I guess a day off was what I needed to get the story back on track. I wrote two chapters today and got the story back to where I needed it to be so I can reach the conclusion I want to reach. The words flowed well, since I got 4204 words done in just over three hours! Woohoo, that's pretty fast for me. 1000 words per hour is my usual pace when things are going well.
The ms stands at 36691 right now. Seven chapters to go, about 13.5K words left to reach 50K. Tomorrow's the halfway point in the month. I'm feeling pretty good about how things have gone. A few more days like today and I'll reach my goal. There are plenty of edits in my future, but you can't edit a blank page, so I'm happy with getting the words on the page in a hurry and going back later to straighten things out.

The Friday Five - Tagged!



Betsy tagged me this morning, so I'm going to use the tag for the Friday Five, and you get two bonus items.
7 Random things about me. (Good thing I'm a fairly random person, since last week's Friday Five was five random things about me.)
1. I loved Breyer horse models when I was a kid. They were my best friends. I would spend hours in my room playing with my horses.
2. I've worn glasses since I was three.
3. I can't sleep with my feet covered. And wearing socks to bed is nasty!
4. I love watching home improvement shows, particularly This Old House and Hometime. Hometime is based out of the Twin Cities, so their issues (and budget, usually) are closer to what we face here in Rochester.
5. I'm looking to purchase an Mp3 player soon.
6. I use Bic Crystal ink pens almost exclusively. They are cheap, about 10 cents each, and I can only find them in the late summer or early fall during the back-to-school sales. Oh, and they must be blue. Always blue ink.
7. I am hopeless when it comes to running audio/visual equipment. If the remote has more than five buttons or controls more than one device...I'm lost.
I'm tagging whoever reads this and wants to play along. :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

NaNo 13





I took today off from NaNo-ing. I'm well ahead in the word count, and I needed a day to regroup and figure out what I'm going to do with the story now.
And I didn't give the Wednesday Weigh in. I was down two pounds over last weekend, and somehow, they showed up again, so I stayed the same. Just how long is a plateau????

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

NaNo 12



Day 12 of NaNo. Didn't quite make it to 2/3 tonight, but pretty close. 2438 words for a total of 32487. I felt tonight that my chapters and focus were wandering, which was probably a result of going to the coffee house for the write in. I've made marginal notes on my outline to remind me to really edit these chapters when it is time for revisions.
The write in was fun, but there were lots of interruptions, chit-chat, and silliness. A challenge floated around to work a random word into your ms every 15 mins. The words were thrown out by our group leader. I didn't have much success, since words like electroshock and converter and schmooze are hard to work into an historical novel. I managed to get a couple in there, but I typed them in ALL CAPS so they will stick out on revisions and I can yank them. :)
Tomorrow, the goal is to make it to 33,333 words, 2/3 of the way through. Less than 1000 words, but it will feel nice to get past that milestone.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

NaNo 11



Pick, pick, pick. That's how it went today. I was CRAWLING. I did manage 2500 words today, and the total stands at 30049 words. I limped across the 30K word mark and called a halt for the day.
Still, psychologically it feels good, and if I can manage 3,3oo words tomorrow, I'll be 2/3 finished with this first draft.
I've sent today's take off to my 'first look' buddy. And I'm putting the outline away for the night. Tomorrow is a scheduled write in at the coffee shop. I'd like to go. It might be the middle-of-NaNo-Week-Two boost I need.

Monday, November 10, 2008

NaNo 10




Day 10 of NaNo. 2542 words today for a total of 27549. I'm hoping I'll hit 30K sometime tomorrow. I should, since tomorrow doesn't have nearly as many errands and distractions as today.
And tonight I get to watch Chuck. I love Chuck.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

NaNo 9



Another Sabbath day for me. The wordcount sits, but my soul is refreshed. Sunday School, church, Women's Bible Study, and my kids played the piano at a retirement home this afternoon.
I've forgotten how cute the littlest musicians are. One tiny girl of maybe five or six, dressed to the nines in her velvet bodiced, fluffy skirted fancy dress, was so small she could hardly make it up onto the piano bench. She gathered up all of her skirts to her waist and hopped up onto the bench. Miss Tiffany, the piano teacher helped her cover her tiny behind and arrange her music.
I love it when the little ones count out loud, or as in today's case, one little gal (I think it was the same one with the fluffy dress, but I can't remember) they bob their little head, and when they got to the right spot, the word "Rest" popped out.
The residents of the care facility seemed to enjoy the concert, and I always like to hear the kids play. To my own children's dismay, I circle songs in the program that I like, so they can ask Miss Tiffany if they can play those songs. :)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

NaNo 8

2555 words today, and a BIG milestone passed. I'm halfway through with this ms, in 8 days.

Went to the write in. Evidently some folks got their wires crossed. Our fearless leader went to the coffee shop across from the hospital, while the rest of the writers went to the coffee shop where we had our initial kickoff meeting.

Anyway, I met a new gal, got reacquainted with a couple others, and got some work done. I really wanted to hit the 25K mark today. And you'll notice I quit as soon as I crossed the half-way point for the day. At least I know what to start on Monday. :D

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Friday Five - later than usual and NaNo 7




This week's Friday Five:

I had something brilliant for the Friday Five...but that was on Wednesday, and now I can't remember what it was...welcome to my world.


So, this week's Friday Five is Five Random Things about Me.

1. I go out of my way not to step on manhole covers or metal grating on the sidewalk.

2. I rarely enjoy movies based on factual events. Either the story is so poignant to me because I know someone went through these things, or I get frustrated by the poetic license taken by the moviemakers that obscures what really happened.

3. My favorite fruit is strawberries.

4. I've never met a cookie I didn't like.

5. The only fish I will eat are the little goldfish crackers.


Nano Update Day 7
Only 1833 words today for a total of 22452. Spent two and a half hours at Panera (eating lunch, then typing) and the place was jammed with people and distractions. I couldn't seem to get too much into the flow today.
Tomorrow is the first local write-in for Wrimos. I'm looking forward to attending and seeing people again and writing a bunch. I want to get to 25K words tomorrow. Halfway done!

Guest Blogger, Mary Connealy

A little OTWP trivia. Who was the first author interviewed at OTWP? Mary Connealy! I went back and read that interview which you can find HERE. Man, I threw the kitchen sink at her! Asked everything under the sun, and she was so gracious in her replies.

This time the interview will be shorter, but I know Mary will be every bit as gracious. Thank you, Mary, for taking time out of your busy schedule to sit still for another OTWP interview.

Today we’re talking about Golden Days, 2008 Short Historical Category winner of the ACFW Book of the Year Contest. I snatched up this book at the epic Mall of America book-signing and got it inscribed by Mary.

Mary, you mentioned in that first interview that you wrote for ten years before being offered a contract for Golden Days. That’s a lesson in perseverance. How many novels did you write before that wonderful day in 2005 when Tracie Peterson called your name?


Hi, Erica, thanks for having me on your blog. I had twenty books—that’s twenty finished full length novels on my computer when I sold my first book. I’ve since sold seven of them and nine more unwritten novels, all to Barbour Publishing.


How did the story come about? And what roles did fellow Alaska Brides authors Cathy Marie Hake and Kathleen Y’Barbo play in the process?

I was so, so, so blessed to have a great visit with Cathy Marie Hake after I won the Genesis Contest at ACFW, with Petticoat Ranch. She asked me to send her the first few chapters of my winning book. I obeyed her and she said she thought I was ‘ready’. YAY! No publisher had yet seen that light, but Cathy suggested pitching a three book series, with her, Kathleen Y’Barbo and me each writing one book. Tracie Peterson was the acquiring editor for HP at the time and she let me come along with the other two very established authors.
Golden Days is now available in the book Alaska Brides which is in bookstores, a three book anthology including Cathy Marie Hake’s book Golden Dawn and Kathleen Y’Barbo’s book Golden Twilight.


Amaruq is such an appealing character. Sturdy and steady, but vulnerable. Did you develop her character as you wrote, or did she spring to life fully formed in your mind?



I did a lot of brainstorming with Cathy and Kathleen before Amaruq (Amy) emerged. I wanted her to be native to that wild, harsh Alaska land but to be hiding her heritage to fit in, because she is sent away from Alaska when her mother dies. Now she’s back home and she finds herself well qualified to protect and provide for herself.

Where did you discover the nuggets of historical setting and fact, particularly the Tlingit terms and customs that flavor the book?
I did so much research for this book, Erica. The landscape, the plants and animals that would support human life and what their different uses are. And the Tlingit culture. Even the names I chose for my characters. I wanted them to be authentic. It was a lot of fun. Research can be tricky. It can be so interesting and compelling that you get sucked into it and lose writing time. But I loved trying to get that culture right.



Initial creation or editing phase? Which do you prefer?

I love both. I love writing along making up my story, but I know editing makes a good book better, and I want that improvement. I learned a saying that I always remember. ‘The best writing is re-writing’. I sincerely believe editing always strengthens a book.



What’s next for you?



Right now is a really hectic time. I’ve got a three book Heartsong Presents Series coming right now, book #1 was last month Buffalo Gal. Book #2 is this month, Clueless Cowboy and book #3 is December The Bossy Bridegroom.











And, in the midst of this is a three book Heartsong Presents Mysteries series. Book #1 of that is this month “Of Mice and Murder.” Books #2 and #3 will be out soon. Pride and Pestilence and The Miceman Cometh. They’re really fun, kind of whacky murder mysteries. In February book #3 in the Lassoed in Texas series comes out, Gingham Mountain. It finished the story started in Petticoat Ranch and Calico Canyon.


As you can see, Mary is one very busy writer! I have read Mary's first three books, and have loved every one of them. I know this trend will continue. You can visit Mary at http://petticoatsandpistols.com/ and at http://seekerville.blogspot.com/ where she's usually causing a ruckus. Her website can be found here: http://www.maryconnealy.com/bio.htm

Mary will be stopping in from time to time through out the day to answer questions and respond to comments. Drop her a line.
Thank you, Mary, for guesting on OTWP.

































Thursday, November 06, 2008

NaNo 6



Today wasn't an earthshattering gain on the NaNo, but respectable. I wrote 2466 words today for a total of 20619 so far.
A write in is scheduled for my local group on Saturday afternoon. I'm hoping that with a good effort tomorrow, I can be almost to the halfway point of 25K.
I went to a coffee shop today to write. I always feel so bohemian and artsy when I got to a coffee shop to work on my novel. Esp. since I don't even drink coffee. They allow me to buy a diet Coke or Pepsi.
This afternoon, I caved totally and ate a chocolate chip cookie. When I got home and tested my blood sugar, I was happy to see the meter read 85. Woohoo! As long as I don't indulge too often, a cookie now and again might be okay. :)

We interrupt this program





We interrupt this program to inform you that...


I'm guest blogging over at FavoritePASTimes blog. (Well, sort of. I wrote a review that is posted there today.) Hop on over and give it a gander.


We now rejoin our day already in progress. :)


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

NaNo 5 (and Wed. Weigh In)



Today I took the NaNo show on the road for the afternoon. Went to Panera Bread and wrote 3439 words, for a running total of 18153. I've never written a first draft so quickly.
And the amazing thing is...I don't think it's total drivel. Sure, it will need work, but the plot is flowing smoothly, and the characters are behaving in character.
Tomorrow starts chapter eight, something I've been looking forward to ever since the idea for it came to me. And it sounds like something out of one of the Dares on the NaNo forums. I get to write about the circus! Really! Doesn't get much better than that. Imagine all the possibilities for sights, sounds, smells, tastes, feels...yay! Even after today's long session of writing, I'm still eager to get back to it because the next chapter will be so much fun.
And for the Wednesday Weigh In... Yay! The numbers on the scale went DOWN. I lost a pound! Woohoo! As difficult and stagnate as things have been for the past several weeks, a pound is something to celebrate! Especially since I've eaten enough salad this week to make a bunny run shrieking into the night.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

NaNo 4



Momentum is still flowing nicely. I wrote 4071 words today.
That felt good. So did voting in today's election. I have such peace right now that no matter who is elected, God will still be God in the morning, neither dismayed nor thrown off His plan by the piddly affairs of men and their elections.
Job 42:2"I know that You can do all things; no plan of Yours can be thwarted."
Isn't that a comforting verse?

Monday, November 03, 2008

NaNo 3


Today was probably more typical of my NaNo writing than Saturday's big word count.
Today, after a trip to the orthodontist for the boy, schoolwork, bookwork, bank, post office, grocery store and piano lessons (whew!) I got to sit down at 3 pm and start writing.
I logged 3028 words this afternoon. Also got a speedy walk in with the DH after he got home from work. It was dark when we walked. Time change. Ugh!
Still, I'm happy with the word count and all the other stuff I got done today. I'm 1/5th of the way through a first draft! Woohoo!

Guest Blogger - Heather


Glorifying God Through Fantasy



Have you noticed the recent upsurge of fantasy books? Due to the success of The Lord of the Rings and related movies, literature suddenly abounds with dragons, knights, castles, and fair maidens. Even in Christian fiction, fantasy has been on the rise. Yet one author in particular takes the lead, Stephen R. Lawhead. Through twenty-three books and counting, Lawhead uses fantasy to tell of God’s mercy and grace.
Born in Nebraska in 1950, Lawhead was raised in the Midwest. After earning a university degree in Fine Arts from Kearney State College of Nebraska and attending Northern Baptist Theological Seminary for two years, Lawhead moved to Chicago. There he was hired at Campus Life as an editor and writer for five years. He wrote hundreds of articles and several nonfiction books. Lawhead then moved to England to research the ancient Celts. The Celtic time period of English history is the setting of many of Lawhead’s most popular books.
The subject matter of Lawhead’s books is truly unique. Shunning the orcs, dragons, and elves of typical fantasy, Lawhead delves into the rich cultural world of the ancient Celts of Britain. Not only does he write about the Celts; he retells their legends. Particularly popular are Lawhead’s retellings of King Arthur and Robin Hood.
With his unique stories, Lawhead has unique settings. The rough-and-readiness of Celtic warfare is the perfect fantasy setting for epic battles and legendary heroes. The heavy superstition of Celtic mythology creates a dark world where the Word of God shines brightly. This combination creates a rich canvas for Lawhead to paint his stories upon. The heroes constantly have to choose between the easy way and the right way. They pray often and sometimes must take up their swords in defense of their faith and friends. God Himself comes to the rescue at times, imparting wisdom or sending a miracle in answer to prayer. With memorable characters and settings, Lawhead’s books easily captivate the reader’s interest.
Lawhead’s characters are memorable because they provide a mirror of real people like us. They are not superheroes who easily leap over problems in a single bound. The characters are simply human, with all the human race’s problems, longings, and questions. They fail, fall short, and learn to rely on God’s power, not their own. They search to find God’s will in their lives and, thanks to the author’s wonderful writing style, we suffer when they do and rejoice right along with them. We can easily associate with them, especially those who experience the same trials and hardships as we do.
I am sure all of us can relate to the story of the Dragon King Trilogy. The first book of the series, In the Hall of the Dragon King, portrays a young man named Quentin in the land of Mensandar. Quentin is disappointed in the phony gods of his world but finds salvation and peace in the Most High God. Upon reflection, Quentin realizes that he had been searching for the true God his whole life; yet he had not found God. God had found him. Only the true God could fill the longing in his heart because God had made him. In the second book, The Warlords of Nin, Quentin is thrown into a war. Enemies who put their trust in darkness invade Mensandar. Through trials, hardships, and sacrifice, Quentin perseveres in doing the right thing. God rewards him and makes him an unlikely hero in the saving of Mensandar. This story illustrates that God uses the weak and makes them strong when they serve Him, much like the Biblical account of David and Goliath. In the final book, The Sword and the Flame, Quentin feels abandoned by God. His friends turn against him and God seems silent. Even his wife and son are taken from him. In this allegory of the book of Job, Quentin learns that God may test our faith, but He is always there to save us in times of need. God will always rescue those who call on Him.
With such vivid settings and realistic characters, Lawhead also brings a Christian perspective, and his stories reflect it. When the knights court the fair ladies, they do so in a godly and chivalrous manner. The characters stand firm in their beliefs, more willing to die fighting for righteousness and their friends than to save their own necks. The heroes not only fight the enemy but also themselves. They struggle daily to die to self and live for God. So many of these truths are missing from secular fantasy. In secular fantasy, though the heroes may strive to be chivalrous, they often rely on their works to save themselves. Evil is often accented or even smiled upon. This is not the case in Lawhead’s stories. Though Lawhead’s characters sometimes fail, it is because of their human sin nature. The hero must always look to God for the ultimate victory and not rely on his own strength.
But can even fantasy worlds truly acknowledge a God as great and mighty as ours? Lawhead shows that they can. Though Lawhead’s characters rarely refer to Him as God, Lord, or Jesus, the names the characters use show the author’s reverence of God. These names include Most High God, Whinoek Father of Life, Great Light, and the Swift Sure Hand. These names are always mentioned with respect and provide glimpses of God’s attributes, such as holiness, justice, and omnipotence. The characters worship God, praise Him, pray to Him, and glorify Him.
It may seem strange to some that Lawhead can combine fantasy and Christianity. Yet Lawhead does this in a way that is plausible. In the Pendragon cycle, for example, Merlin is a Roman Catholic. History shows that Celtic Christianity came to England in the fifth century, at about the time Lawhead places his books. Lawhead portrays Merlin not as a wizard of mythical art but as a bard and prophet. For those who just do not like fantasy in general, consider trying some of Lawhead’s historical fiction. Byzantium and Patrick portray the real historical figures of Aidan and Patrick, who are some of the earliest missionaries to the Celtic peoples of Britain and Ireland. These books are not loaded with the fantasy of some of Lawhead’s books yet retain all the author’s unique style and scope.
Today, many readers love Stephen R. Lawhead’s unique combination of fantasy and Biblical truths. Since Lawhead began writing fantasy in 1981, his books have not gone out of print. He has a huge fan base in both the United States and the United Kingdom. He has also received multiple awards for his writing, including a Christy award for his latest book, Scarlet. In 2003, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by the University of Nebraska. His books have been translated into twenty-one different foreign languages.In a fantasy world of dark magic, Lawhead leads the way in the growing market of Christian fantasy. With a firm foundation in God’s Word, Lawhead continues to write captivating stories that testify to the glory of God. He will continue to be well read and well received by readers around the world.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

NaNo 2


Nothing written today, but a great Sabbath for me. Church, dinner with friends, then company over for the afternoon. I feel refreshed after the big day yesterday and ready to dive in again tomorrow.
I hope your Sabbath was refreshing too.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

NaNo Day 1

Had a good day today. 7615 words. Whew, am I tired.

Had a thought while I was working...I'm really going to miss these characters when this story is done. Maybe because it is the third in a series, maybe because I've plotted this book more heavily than any book I've written before, but the first 7600 words came easier than the beginning of any book I've tried, even last year's NaNo novel attempt.

Longtime readers of OTWP will know that I usually have to whine my way through the first 20-40 pages of a new WIP. But this time I know my characters so much better, know what it is they want, and more importantly why they can't have it, that the work is going well. Well, the first day did, anyway.

I could tell I was having Mary Ann tendencies. (See my Seekerville post HERE.) Every time I knew I was going to be mean to my characters, I had to get up from the table at the library and walk around to psych myself up to lower the boom. It got to be kinda fun. :D

We Have A Winner



We tossed the names into the Helga Hat, and Heather pulled out a winner.

Congratulations, Carla!

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Friday Five

The Friday Five this week is:

Five reasons I'm glad I sucked it up and went to the NaNo Kickoff Party in my region.

1. I met nice people.

2. I won a jump drive in the drawing.

3. I got a NaNo sticker. :)

4. I got to color a picture of my 'inner editor' then seal him up in an envelope that is not to be opened until December 1st.

5. I met nice people.

I am so glad I went. And thank you to my family who went along with, sort of. I'm such a baby. Peter and James dropped Heather and I off at the coffee shop, then went to Best Buy to look at electronics. We agreed to meet at the Taco Bell next to the coffee shop after the meeting. Heather took a seat away from the meeting and worked on her own project, but for some reason, it was comforting to know she was close by. Turns out all my fears were unfounded. The people were nice, enthusiastic, and more than welcoming. We have a really fun bunch of people writing away in Rochester.

In other news, I'm guest blogging today at Seekerville, so pop on over and see how writers are like the characters on Gilligan's Island.

Also, BIG news. I've received release dates for books two and three in the Kennebrae Brides series. Book one, The Bartered Bride, releases November 2009, book two, tentatively titled The Marriage Masquerade, debuts January 2010, and the final book, tentatively titled The Engineered Engagement, comes out June 2010.

When I got the email, I danced around the room, grinning, and giggling...sadly, I was the only one home at the time and the cat looked at me like I had lost my marbles. Sigh. If she only knew how right she was. :)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

NaNo Kickoff Party


Tonight is the Rochester Area NaNoWriMo Kickoff Party. I'm planning on going, if I don't chicken out at the last minute. I might know one other person who is going, but that will be it. What am I thinking?
I guess I'm thinking it would be a nice opportunity to meet some new people, to connect with some local writers, and to garner some enthusiasm and support before jumping into NaNo on Saturday. The local ML (municipal liason) is putting together some info/fun packets for those who come, and also planning some 'write-ins' for November where we can meet together to write and encourage each other when things get tough.
I'm excited and afraid all at once. Is this normal? Am I such a fraidy cat that I won't go spend an hour at a coffee shop with strangers who also like to write? Guess I'll find out the answer to that tomorrow.
Have you ever been scared to do something you thought you wanted to do? That feeling of anxious anticipation colors a lot of things I think I'd like to try. Gimme a shout if you've ever felt that way. I'd like to kn0w I'm not alone in my weirdness.
Oh, and I didn't forget the Wed WI. Due to the blog tour, I didn't post it this week. Suffice it to say, there wasn't any news to report. :( Still, staying even = not going up.
If it ain't salad, I'm not eating it this week. Sigh. And I'm logging more miles on the stationary bike. At least I can read and ride. I can't seem to read and walk on the treadmill. So I have to settle for watching TV. :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Blog Tour - Single Sashimi by Camy Tang

Today on OTWP, I'm thrilled to present Single Sashimi by my friend, Camy Tang. Camy is a brilliant writer whose characters leap off the page and grab you by the heart. I've loved all three of her novels, Sushi for One?, Only Uni, and Single Sashimi. Camy has graciously submitted to an interview for me. Thank you, Camy!



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Do you start out writing a book thinking about the take-away value or theme? I thought Venus's journey felt very real and relatable, and her struggles, esp. with herself, rang true.

Thanks! I always think of what the character’s spiritual struggle is going to be before I even write the book, because I want to weave the things that happen to her in with the inner struggles she’s going through. A lot of times, the character’s spiritual struggles are things that I’ve gone through or are going through, which hopefully adds some realism to it ... especially if I were a gorgeous, successful video game developer. LOL

Venus is very conscious of her weight and the impact the change in weight had in her life and how people treat her. As someone who has recently lost quite a bit of weight myself, I found her character to be spot on. Do you have any personal experience in this, or did you interview someone in this position to gain this insight?

When I was single, I was incredibly disheartened by how guys treated the skinny girls versus the non-skinny girls, and at other times, it just made me mad.

I thought, what would happen if a gifted but overweight woman suddenly lost weight and saw what I saw, how guys acted differently and spoke differently to women just because they were slender?

And because Venus has more strength and self-confidence than I do, how would I wish I could react in those situations, and how would it impact a strong self-assurance?

I am still battling with my weight, (Erica here: Camy is tiny! Absolutely gorgeous.) but I could write Venus from the viewpoint of a woman who saw the double standard and could imagine how she’d respond to it when it was directed at her.

How much research did you have to do into gaming and software companies? (Venus is a programing executive in the video gaming industry.)

Not as much as I expected to, but more than actually got into the book. I had a friend who worked in the gaming industry who got me started, and then I got hooked up with a couple other guys who already work in the gaming industry, and I picked their brains. They were very nice. They’re listed in the acknowledgements section.

This book seems to be centered a lot more on Venus and her work environment than the large, noisy, sometimes messy Sakai family. Was this a conscious decision, or just the natural evolution of the series?

It was something that flowed out of Venus’s character. She’s not one to let family pressure influence her as much as her other cousins, and her relationship with Grandma is actually very different from the other cousins’ relationships with Grandma. Grandma relates to Venus on a business level as well as a family level, and so the business side of the story naturally came out more than in other books.

I loved and recognized the names of several of your characters. How do you keep all the characters' names straight in a huge cast?

I cheat. I have a Word document that has EVERYBODY’S name on it, so I don’t forget. Because I totally would.

What has been the fallout from Only Uni and the situation Trish found herself in at the end of the book? Positive? Negative? (I thought it was brilliant, and really showed the grace of God and the consequences of our decisions living on, even after we've repented.)

It’s been mostly positive, although most people were surprised. I really wanted to convey what you mentioned, that while God gives us grace, we still do have to live with consequences. It’s something I had been teaching the youth group at church at the time, and it was perfect for what I planned Trish to go through.

Once you, as an author, wrap up a series, what's next? Where do you go from here? Do you keep in mind your brand? Do you branch out into areas you're interested in?

I always keep my brand in mind and try not to deviate too far from it. However, I also look at marketing and the Christian fiction market to see what works and what doesn’t, and I try to make decisions based on what I observe or what I can predict will happen in a few months.

In planning a new book, I do not have a very “mystical” process. I decide what type of book I’m going to write, and then brainstorm ideas for a premise until I find one that resonates with me. Then I go for it.

For example, when I wanted my next book to be a Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense novel, I brainstormed plot and setting ideas until I came up with the Sonoma spa setting and a massage therapist heroine. Once I had that down, I could come up with a crime—a dead body in her massage room. Then I went about wondering the hows and whys, and planning who the villain was. In the midst of that, I plotted who the hero would be and how he becomes embroiled in the mystery.

Here’s the back cover blurb I wrote for that book, Deadly Intent (it releases in August 2009), although this blurb may not appear on the actual book:

THERE WAS A DEAD BODY IN HER MASSAGE ROOM

And massage therapist Naomi Grant is suspected of murder. She’s frustrated and helpless as a web of lies closes in around her, framing her. She doesn’t have time to worry about her shaky faith or think about her growing attraction to the victim’s ex-husband, Dr. Devon Knightley.

Orthopedic surgeon Devon had only needed to claim his mother’s necklace back from his ex-wife, but suddenly he’s embroiled in a murder investigation and someone is trying to kill him. He wants to somehow protect Naomi from the trap being set around her, but can he keep them both safe against a villain with deadly intent?


Thanks for having me here, Erica!
Camy

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. She used to be a biologist, but now she is a staff worker for her church youth group and leads a worship team for Sunday service. She also runs the Story Sensei fiction critique service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every Monday and Thursday, and she ponders frivolous things like dumb dogs (namely, hers), coffee-geek husbands (no resemblance to her own...), the writing journey, Asiana, and anything else that comes to mind. Visit her website at http://www.camytang.com/ for a huge website contest going on right now, giving away ten boxes of books and 30 copies of her latest release, SINGLE SASHIMI.
My review of Single Sashimi: It's FABULOUS! Camy's writer voice is instantly recognizable. Her characters are real, flawed, hilarious people who don't escape the realities of life but embrace them. Camy brings a strong Christian message to her readers without preaching, but by showing how broken humans are redeemed and loved by a God full of grace. I HIGHLY recommend this book and this series. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Guest Blogger - Heather


Today's guest blogger is my daughter, Heather. The following is an essay she wrote for her English class at Northwestern College. She has a very proud mama.

My Mom, The Novelist

‘When people find out that I write novels, they inevitably ask: “How do you write books?”
Would these same questioners ask a pianist: “How do you play the piano?”
Or a surgeon: “How do you perform an operation?”
Or an athlete: “How do you play ball?”
When people are asked, “Can you write?” they often say, “I don’t know; I’ve never tried.” But when you ask these same people if they can play the cello, they don’t say, “I don’t know; I’ve never tried.”
The implication here is that most people believe anyone can write—’ From How to Write and Sell a Christian Novel by Gilbert Morris.


Writing a novel takes a lot more time and effort than most people understand. I know this because my mom, Erica Vetsch, is a novelist. As her Plotting Partner and Editorial Assistant, I get to help her with her writing. Her dream of publishing a novel has taken four years to see it happen.
My mom did not start out writing novels. She started out writing fan fiction—using ideas created by others and writing stories based upon those characters and ideas. From these short stories, a bigger dream grew. “I had one particular story that had some merit, I thought, to be turned into a mainstream novel,” Mom says. “I changed the characters and setting, tweaked the storyline a lot, and rewrote it, expanding on the original idea.” After several months’ work, this story developed to become her first novel-length manuscript.
After producing her first novel, Mom was faced with the challenge of getting published. She assumed, as many new authors do, that once she had a novel finished, she naturally would get published. The process turned out to be more difficult than either of us anticipated.
Mom sent a proposal out to several different agents. Most of them sent it back with a letter of rejection, usually a basic form letter. One agent, however, seemed interested and even asked to see the whole manuscript. We were very excited when he signed Mom on. With such a wonderful book, surely offers for publishing would come pouring in!
The agent sent the story out to publishers but also encouraged Mom to keep writing. With more books to send out, Mom has a better chance of being published. In addition, Mom can grow and improve her writing skills. That first novel and several subsequent novels were met with rejections from publishers, but Mom did not give up, and each novel improved as she continued to write.
My mom often gets asked where her ideas for her novels come from. “Every author is different, and for me, the beginning idea for every book has come from a different source of inspiration. Some come from reading an account from a history book, watching a movie, or visiting a museum. Others come from brainstorming sessions with friends, from ‘what if’ questions, or as a bolt from the blue. Some ideas have staying power that can sustain an entire book, and some, after a bit of thought, fade away.”
Those ideas that stick need a bit of structure before she begins the writing process. The structure comes from plotting and research. My mom’s research takes on many forms. Because she writes historical fiction, she must research the era of history she wishes to portray. To do this we visit historical sites and museums concerning that time period.
For example, for a book set in 1905 Duluth, we visited the city of Duluth. On this trip, we took a tour of Fairlawn Mansion. This old house was turned into a museum and portrays the time period we were researching. We also toured the last remaining whaleback ship, the S.S. Meteor. This ingenious design ship design was created in the late nineteenth century and was used extensively on the Great Lakes. Last but not least, we visited Split Rock Lighthouse. This visit included a trip to the lakeshore below the lighthouse. By visiting the setting of her novel, Mom gets a feel for what this place looks like and how people would act in this place.
After thoroughly investigating the setting, Mom researches the people. “I immerse myself in the era I want to recreate. I read sourcebooks, original documents, letters, newspaper articles, and the like to capture the language and atmosphere of the era. I look at clothing, particularly women’s dress, and hairstyles. I try to find photographs if possible. This helps me stay true to the historical era and also establishes the boundaries for the setting and characters.” This often means trips to the library and to Forestville, a historical reenactment site of 1899. The tour guides all wear costumes of the era and the site has many old photographs and stories of the people who lived there. Forestville is also much closer than Duluth, so this site is our gold mine.
At this point we begin plotting. I say ‘we’ because I am heavily involved in this process. “I couldn’t plot my books without Heather. She is my brainstorming partner, sounding board, and barometer of when things just aren’t working. By the time I finish a book, Heather has listened to the plot about a dozen times, picked holes in all the weak areas, and helped me strengthen the motivations of the characters to form a cohesive story.” Sometimes the plot my mom tells me first is nothing like the finished product, which is okay, since the original plot is only an outline and easily changed.
We use many different tools to plot these novels. Many are the times I’ve seen the table covered in books, papers, and Post-it notes. As Mom tries to establish a ‘road map’ of her book, we may have impromptu plotting parties on the bed, just to talk about the story. We have used timelines, plot ‘skeletons’, and even a display board to organize the story as it unfolds. “My approach to each of the eight novels I’ve written has been different as I try to find the particular method that works best for me,’ says Mom. “I started out a completely ‘seat-of-the-pants’ writer, but now I need to have a fairly good idea where the story is going in order to present it to my editor in a proposal. This requires more planning, more forethought, and more work!”
After the book is plotted comes the writing. This is the part that Mom does mostly herself. Typing on her laptop, Mom writes at least some on her novel every weekday. About every other Saturday, she goes to the library or a local restaurant to find a quiet place to have a big writing day away from distractions. I have been known to accompany her on these outings. Trips to the library are beneficial, because she gets more done on these days than when she stays home.
“I currently write about two books per year. From initial plotting to the final polish takes about six months. I typically set a word count goal of at least one thousand words per day. On days I write away from home, the word count is set at three to four thousand. My best day so far has been around nine thousand words, but that was mostly due to being at the end of a book. The pace always picks up towards the end of a novel.”
Once the first draft is completed the editing process begins. This part in the development of the book once again requires the help of others, including me. The first step in editing is the pencil edit phase. The novel is printed out on paper, and Mom reads it aloud as I listen. Between the two of us, we pick out redundant word usage, places where sentences are not clear, and sections that could be improved by additional plotting or description. After the pencil edits, the corrections get typed into the computer.
“I have trusted friends who read the manuscript once it is completed, and they critique it, helping me see errors or weaknesses that I don’t see because I am too close to the work. These friends are authors too, and I return the favor by critiquing their work. This kind of input is invaluable for me.”
Once the manuscript is finished, Mom compiles a proposal packet. This includes a synopsis of the novel, some sample chapters, a brief author bio, ideas for marketing, and ideas for sequels to this book. The proposal is sent to Mom’s agent, who sends it to publishers.
Getting a story from an author’s initial idea through the publishing process and onto bookstore shelves takes effort from a lot of people and a considerable amount of time. “No novel arrives on the shelves without a team effort. The author writes the book. Then the editors edit it to make it stronger and eliminate any errors. The marketing team, publicity team, cover artwork team, and the author all work together to make the book as saleable to the targeted audience as possible. From the edited/revised stage, the book is typeset, proofed yet again in the galley/mock-up stage, and then sent to print. Advanced copies might go out for review, and the book is advertised in the publishing house’s catalog. The book goes out to bookstores, book clubs, and other venues for sale. It’s a long process, often taking eighteen months or more from the time the contract is signed to the time the book is available to the reader.”
When asked how to get published, my mom has several things she tells aspiring novelists. “First, sit down and write. There is no substitute for writing. Most people don’t want to write; they want to have written. A lot of people have stories in their heads, but they will never be published until they put their backside in the chair and put words on the screen. Second, be persistent. Overnight success in this business is so rare as to be almost a myth. On average, it takes an author about five years and about five ‘practice’ novels before they produce something ready for publication. This takes a certain amount of stubbornness and belief in yourself. Don’t quit. About the time you want to throw in the towel, you’re just about there.”Though the road to publication is difficult, it is also rewarding. This past September, after four years and several novels, my mom finally got a contract to publish one of her books. Her novel, The Bartered Bride, releases in November of next year from Barbour Publishing. My mom is proof that with hard work and determination, dreams can come true.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Diamond Duo by Marcia Gruver

Here's a fun blog tour I've been waiting to participate in. Last year at the ACFW Conference in Dallas, Marcia Gruver received a three book contract with Barbour Publishing in front of almost 500 writers. Leave a comment on this post to be entered to win a copy of her debut novel, Diamond Duo. Winner will be drawn November 1st. Please leave a viable email address so I can contact you about your win.





Author Bio: Marcia Gruver is a full time writer who hails from Southeast Texas. Inordinately enamored by the past, Marcia delights in writing historical fiction. Her deep south-central roots lend a Southern-comfortable style and a touch of humor to her writing. Recently awarded a three-book contract by Barbour Publishing, she’s busy these days pounding on the keyboard and watching the deadline clock.
Marcia’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW); the Christian Authors Network (CAN!); Faith, Hope, & Love (FHL)-the Inspirational Outreach Chapter of the Romance Writers of America; Fellowship of Christian Writers (FCW); The Writers View; and a longstanding member of ACFW Crit3, her brilliant and insightful critique group.
Lifelong Texans, Marcia and her husband, Lee, have one daughter and four sons. Collectively, this motley crew has graced them with ten grandchildren and one great-granddaugh ter—so far.



Please tell us a little bit about who Marcia Gruver is. Which Marcia? Like everyone else, who I am depends on the hat on my head. I’m wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, granny, and just recently, great-granny to a little sprite of a girl who seems well qualified to carry our legacy into the future. Even more recently, I’m a published author of inspirational fiction. How about that? Marcia Gruver is content, well loved, fulfilled, and grateful to God for every second of her life.


What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Guilty secret time? I love to play video games. I look for any slip of time and any excuse to play. I also love to read and watch movies in all genres.


In Diamond Duo, your character Bertha is a breath of fresh air with her fun and refreshing sense of humor. If I were to ask those close to you about your sense of humor, would they describe similarities between you and Bertha? Oh, boy! I’m afraid so. I’m actually dry and rather reserved at first—so much so that I’ve been accused of having a split personality. When I’m very relaxed and get to know a person well, the real me comes out to play. Yep, the lights are on and a whole bunch of us are home.


When you sit down to read for pleasure what authors do you choose? Linda Nichols, Kristen Heitzman, and Brandilyn Collins are at the top of the list. But I have so many books in my ‘To Be Read’ pile, I just know there are favorites sitting there waiting to be discovered.


What three books that you’ve read this past year would you recommend others rush to the bookstore and purchase? That’s a tough one. Readers’ tastes are so diverse, especially in fiction. For instance, I write quirky, sweet historical romance with a thread of adventure to spice it up a bit. I realized going in that this wouldn’t appeal to every reader. In the same way, there’s a huge fan base for the spooky novels written by Brandilyn Collins, yet I happen to know people too scared to read them. A great testimony to the quality of her work, by the way. It breaks my heart to read a scathing review of an author’s hard work, written by a person who had no business picking it up in the first place.

Nonfiction? I highly recommend The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls. This book almost reads like fiction and is an incredible ride.

If you could take your dream vacation, where would you go and who would go with you? I once would’ve said England. I love the Brits. After watching Under the Tuscan Sun with Diane Lane, I’m now captivated by Tuscany. Whichever destination I chose, my traveling partner would have to be my hubby. He’s great to talk to. But since he wouldn’t take off work to go, I’d take my daughter Tracy, the most fun person I know.




An interview with Marcia about the book:

Tell us about Diamond Duo. Bertha Maye Biddie’s in love. Trouble is, she’s not sure the object of her affection feels the same. He seems to be interested, but something’s holding him back. So when opportunity rides into Jefferson on the northbound train out of Marshall, young Bertha leaps at the chance to learn a few tricks. A charming, charismatic stranger offers to take Bertha under her wing and teach her the art of wooing a man. But when the woman is unable to keep her promise, Bertha realizes their chance meeting held far more eternal significance.


Where did the idea for Diamond Duo come from? On a trip to Jefferson, Texas, I heard the true story of the unsolved murder of the infamous Diamond Bessie, aka Annie Monroe. In 1877, a flashy, well-dressed couple rode a train into town for a short visit. They checked into a hotel as A. Monroe and wife. The woman seemed to go by more than one name, one of them Bessie Moore. Because she wore several large diamond rings, supposedly gifts offered in exchange for immoral favors, the locals soon dubbed her “Diamond Bessie.”
On the last day of Bessie’s life, she and her companion, Abraham Rothschild, took a picnic basket into the woods. He came out alone, wandering the streets of Jefferson by himself for several days. When asked about Bessie, he said she was staying with nearby friends, and would return in time for their departure. However, he left by himself two days later, carrying Bessie’s luggage along with his own.
A local woman discovered poor Bessie’s body in the woods several days later. Jefferson officials went after Abraham Rothschild and tried him for her murder, but due to his money and considerable influence, he was acquitted.
While standing over Diamond Bessie’s grave, assuming her eternal fate, I found myself wondering: “What if?” Maybe history had been unkind to Bessie. What if she wasn’t as bad as some claimed? Suppose God had arranged a surprise finish for her—a loving, merciful end that no one would’ve expected?


How did you become interested in the real life murder of Annie Monroe? It’s hard to visit historic Jefferson, Texas without tripping over Annie’s story. Diamond Bessie has become a tourist attraction, and the locals seem more than eager to tell the account. The shops abound with books on the topic, one penned by Jefferson historian, Fred McKenzie. Every year, during Jefferson’s annual Pilgrimage Festival, the residents perform in a play entitled “The Diamond Bessie Murder Trial.” The play is derived from court transcripts, and it’s really quite an event!
You have several themes woven into Diamond Duo. Could share them with us?Young Bertha Biddie schemes to win the affections of Thaddeus Bloom, a man bound by honor to his father’s dream. She gets a lesson on honor herself when God asks her to risk her future with Thad to help a stranger.
Thad learns the importance of listening to his mama the hard way, but wonders if it’s fair to expect him to sacrifice his happiness in obedience to his father’s plans for his life.
Sarah King is used to better treatment from her fellow man regardless of race, but forgets her husband deserves the same regard. Her unbridled temper and acrid tongue threaten to drive him away, until the pure heart of a tragic stranger teaches Sarah a lesson in colorblind acceptance.


In Diamond Duo, Bertha feels solely responsible for leading Annie Monroe out of her lifestyle and into a believer’s world. Have you ever had a similar experience in your life? I think every Christian feels a strong compulsion to share God’s grace once they’ve had a taste. If you think about it, given the Great Commission, we’re all solely responsible for leading those in our paths to God.


How do you research a historical project for accuracy? Actually, I begin most of my research on Amazon.com. They have books on every imaginable topic. No, I don’t own shares of stock, but I should by now.
After I pore over written material to get a visual of the period, I plan a visit to the area where the book is set. For my Texas Fortunes Series, I spent a week in Jefferson, Texas researching Diamond Duo, book one. Book two was easy. I live just a few miles from Humble Texas, the setting for Chasing Charity. My family all work in the oil patch and have for generations. My contractor husband is currently on a job in South Texas, so I was fortunate to spend several months in Carrizo Springs researching book three, Emmy’s Equal. There’s no substitute for walking the streets, exploring the sites, haunting the libraries, and talking to the locals. However, I’ve discovered the little details that provide historical accuracy need constant verification. I do my best, but I don’t know if it’s possible to get all the facts right. I use the Internet some, but you have to be careful with information gleaned from the web. Not every source can be trusted.


You have so many wonderful and unique characters in Diamond Duo. Which of the characters do you identify with and why? This question makes me smile. I’ve been accused of being the inspiration for Bertha Maye Biddie—a free-spirited rebel with an aversion to shoes. I think that’s me on the inside.


Can you tell us about your next book? Chasing Charity, book two in the Texas Fortunes series, picks up in Humble, Texas, several years after Diamond Duo ends. Charity Bloom, Bertha’s daughter, stands at the altar watching her best friend flee the church on the heels of her departing fiancĂ©. This is the final straw for Charity, who is distressed by the many changes taking place in her life and in her hometown, most notably the devastation wrought after oil is discovered near Humble. Imagine Charity’s surprise when one of the men responsible comes to her rescue, and she finds her heart torn between two suitors—the handsome roughneck and the deceitful rogue who broke her heart.

Praise for Diamond Duo:

Diamond Duo is alive with great characters, brought to life under Marcia Gruver’s unique skill. The charm of the little details and the big picture of tension and murder will keep you turning the pages. Mary Connealy- author of the Lassoed in Texas series

With lyrical prose and a cast of characters that will remain in your heart long after the last page is turned, Marcia Gruver’s debut novel is a must-read. Whether you’re seeking a romance, a wonderful Southern story or an escape to another time, Diamond Duo is a masterpiece waiting to be found. Kathleen Y’barbo author of the Fairweather Key series


Marcia Gruver’s writing is witty, charming and historically accurate. She pulls you into the lives of the characters and makes you feel as though you’re actually walking and talking with them. Best of all, she captures the true feel of the setting, (a real strength in her stories). I can’t recommend Diamond Duo strongly enough! Janice Thompson author of the Bridal Mayhem series

Well-written, delightful characters—Diamond Duo is the most entertaining historical to come around in a long time. Elizabeth Ludwig author of Where the Truth Lies and Died in the Wool

Diamond Duo is a beautifully written historical rich in authentic period details with well-developed characters, and a plot that keeps you turning the pages. Marcia Gruver brings us a bit of suspense, a sweet and unpredictable romance, and life lessons along the way. You’re sure to be entertained and come away with questions about your own faith and sense of urgency in bringing the Good News to those in need. What more could you ask for in a Christian fiction novel? Susan Sleeman author of the Garden Gate Mystery series

This is the first installment of a new series, Texas Fortunes, by a talented author who works factual happenings into her fiction. Readers will root for the protagonists of this charming tale..Romantic Times - Four starsThe first Texas Fortunes historical romance is a terrific late Reconstruction era tale that brings to life a port city. The murder of Annie also known as Diamond Bessie Monroe is a real event that anchors the well written story line; as Marcia Gruver easily blends fact and fiction. With a strong cast especially the lead couple who each has self esteem issues, fans of Reconstruction Era romances will want to read the delightful DIAMOND DUO. Harriet Klausner – Amazon’s #1 reviewer

Visit the following blogs this week for more of Marcia Gruver and Diamond Duo.

A Latte and Some Words

A Little Bit of Sunlight

Anne Greene

Be a Barnabas

Book Splurge

BookingIt

Cara’s Musings

Dawn Michelle Michals at ShoutLife

Erica at ShoutLife

Fictionary

God With Us - Finding Joy

Horizontal Yo-Yo

Janice Olsen

Lighthouse Academy

Marthawrites

Mary Connealy - real life

My Christian Fiction Blog

Net’s Notes

On The Write Path

Pam Krumpe

Patti’s Porch

Readin N Writin

Simple LivingChristian Style

Tamara Lynn Kraft

Terri Tiffany

The Friendly Book Nook

The Writer’s Tool

Writing by Faith




My Review: I found this book fresh and refreshing. Marcia's turn of phrase uses the unexpected word, but also the perfect phrasing to make you feel as if you are in Texas during Reconstruction. The ending is particularly satisfying, romantic, and heart-warming. I highly recommend this book.

Remember, leave a comment for a chance to win your own copy.

You can visit Marcia's blog HERE.