Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Friday Five - a wee bit early

Again, the Friday Five will be a wee bit early this week due to commitments all day tomorrow. So, after much thought, the Friday Five is:

Five things I remember from Sunday School as a kid:

1. The model of the Tabernacle. We loved that thing. It was like having a Bible times doll house.

2. Flannelgraph Bible stories. When the story was over, Mrs. Peterson (2nd grade) would let us retell the story and put the pieces up on the board.

3. Mrs. Smith (3rd grade) always vacationed in Florida during January, and she would bring back seashells for her students. I was so glad when it was finally my turn to be in Mrs. Smith's class, so I could pick out a seashell to bring home. (Kansas doesn't have many seashells, so these were real treasures.)

4. Benji Beaver stories. Okay, technically this was children's church and not Sunday school, but I have to include it here. I loved those stories. Benji always got himself into trouble (something I could identify with all too much) and he learned a valuable spiritual lesson each week.

5. My first Sunday School teacher that I can remember was a really tall man named Jody who broke his leg skiing. We all got to sign his enormous white cast, though some of us didn't know how to spell our names too good yet. And we got to play with a little model house from Bible times, with an Upper Room. Jody taught us to sing "I stand at the door and knock, knock, knock."

The picture is of the church I grew up in. I was married in this church, as were my siblings and my parents.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Suzy Homemaker

Today I felt like Heloise. I had a household dilemma and I figured it out!
Last night I was burning some candles. (I wasn't praying for anything, I just wanted the ambiance.) One of the candles guttered and spilled over, dripping hot wax onto my tapestry table runner. The wax seeped all the way through the cloth.
Consternation! But I figured there were a couple of things I could try. I got the hair dryer and softened the wax, then I used a butter knife to scrape as much of it off as I could. When I couldn't get any more off (and my fingertips were frying under the blast from the hair dryer) I blotted with tissues. One underneath, and one that I pressed with the heel of my hand over and over on the spot. The liquid wax wicked up into the tissue.
Yup, felt very Suzy Homemaker. :)

An experiment

Click to Mix and Solve

A little experiment. I love JigZone puzzles. For a long time, I worked the puzzle of the day every day. Now I drop in when I have a few minutes to kill. (More like when I am procrastinating about writing the next scene.)

They have an imbed feature, so I'm going to try it here. Visit and check out all the cool puzzles.

This Week From CFBA

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Stuck in the Middle
Revell (February 1, 2008)
Virginia Smith

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Virginia Smith left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker with the release of her first novel Just As I Am. Since then she has contracted eight novels and published numerous articles and short stories. She writes contemporary humorous novels for the Christian market, including Murder by Mushroom (Steeple Hill, August 2007) and her newest release, Stuck in the Middle (Revell, February 2008), book 1 in the Sister-to-Sister Series. Her short fiction has been anthologized, and her articles have been published in a variety of Christian magazines. An energetic speaker, she loves to exemplify God’s truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, “Biblical Truths in Star Trek.” Virginia is a speaker, and an avid Scuba diver. She and her husband Ted, divide their times between Kentucky and Utah, and escape as often as they can for diving trips to the Caribbean!

ABOUT THE BOOK: Joan Sanderson's life is stuck. Her older sister, Allie, is starting a family and her younger sister, Tori, has a budding career. Meanwhile, Joan is living at home with Mom and looking after her aging grandmother. Not exactly a recipe for excitement-or romance. That is, until a hunky young doctor moves in next door. Suddenly Joan has a goal--to catch his eye and get a date. But it won't be easy. Pretty Tori flirts relentlessly with him, and Joan is sure that she can't compete. But with a little help from God, Allie, and an enormous mutt with bad manners, maybe Joan can find her way out of this rut and into the life she's been hiding from. Book 1 of the Sister-to-Sister series, Stuck in the Middle combines budding romance, spiritual searching, and a healthy dose of sibling rivalry that is sure to make you smile.

"A gentle story of one young woman's season of growth, deftly blending the tangle of family relationships with gifts of whimsey and revelation. A joy to read."~SHARON HINCK, author of Renovating Becky Miller and Symphony of Secrets~

"Virginia Smith has created a charming and humerous novel that celebrates small-town life, generations of women caring for each other, and the value of finding a deeper, more active faith."~SHARON DUNN, author of the Bargain Hunters mysteries~

My Review: I am only part-way through this book, but I am really enjoying it. I loaned it to a friend to read and then asked her what she thought of it. She said the thing that stood out the most for her was Joan's spiritual journey, her growth in the Lord.

So far in my reading, I can say Virginia has a great imagination. Her similes make me smile. And her portrayal of the middle sister is spot on. I can remember having many of the same feelings about my siblings.

This one is another winner from Virginia Smith!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Setting the Mood

Saturday I sat in a carrel at the library, back to the windows, nothing to look at but the computer screen, and no internet hookup.

I produced 5000 words in five hours. This included a break to visit the used bookstore downtown, a few bathroom breaks, and a little time spent looking at my daughter's choice of library books. (Giant glossy pictures of African Mammals)

Yesterday, I had a couple hours time to write, and I only produced 1000 words. Each one was a fight. A fight to get them in my head, a fight to get them on the paper, and a fight not to run check my email between each word.

I've found that moving to another place often helps me focus. A Coffee shop, Panera, or as I am now in the pool observation area at our local YMCA (Kids are swimming, oldest is working on her Red Cross Life Guard certification). I've been here about half an hour and 1000 words to the good.

Sometimes I move to a new writing spot in my house, light some candles, open some M&M's, and turn off the wireless internet card in the laptop. I tell the kidlets I need some quiet time to write, and voy-o-lee as my daughter says, I turn into a writing machine.

So where do you write, how do you set the mood, and how do you change things up when you need a boost?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sometimes it hits me...

Today was a profitable stolen day at the library. I doubled the length of my manuscript, clocking in over 5000 words today! Woohoo!
But early on in the day, Heather was sitting beside me working on her AWANA lesson. She said, "I need to go get a Bible off the shelf to look up this verse." It was an Old Testament book, or I would've loaned her the pocket New Testament I have carried in my purse since I was a freshman in high school. She quickly returned with a New King James. She looked up the passage, then set it on the carrel shelf.
A few minutes later, I needed to confirm a verse in Proverbs for my manuscript. Because I'm writing an historical, I asked Heather to go find me a King James.
When she returned, I sat there looking at those two Bibles. And then it hit me. In a building with upwards of 200,000 books, I had in my hand the only book that mattered. I was reminded of Ecclesiastes 12:12 "And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of the making of books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh."
As a Christian author, I am 'making books', but unless I recognize the place of The Book, and make all my writing reflect the truths found there to the best of my ability, it is a vanity that does no more than add to the 'slush pile' already out there and become a weary burden.

Friday, February 22, 2008

And the winner is....

And the winner of Sharon Dunn's DEATH OF A SIX-FOOT TEDDY BEAR is....
Thank you to all who entered, and to Sharon for her guest blog and a book to give away.
and to our winner, please contact me with a viable email address by Friday, Feb 29th in order to receive your book.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Friday Five

This week's Friday Five is another walk down memory lane.
Five cars I've owned or driven.
1. The first car I drove was a 196-something Ford Galaxy 500, turquoise with a black interior.
2. For most of high-school, I drove a 1972 Chevy Blazer, blue and white with a removeable hard top.
3. When I got married, my husband and I bought a 1985 1/2 Red Ford Escort. Unfortunately, my beloved little Marci was brutally murdered when a kid without a driver's license ran a yield sign and slammed into her with me in the driver's seat. I was shaken and stirred, but not broken up.
4. Our next car was a 1987 gold Ford Escort named Franklin. I loved that car, but when our second child was on the way, we decided we needed something bigger.
5. We bought a 1987 blue Ford Taurus Station Wagon. I named it Lucy, we got it cheap, and it didn't owe us a dime when we sold it.
Bonus coverage:
6. We bought a 1996 Olds Delta 88, green with a gold pinstripe. I named it Peppermint Patty (are you sensing a theme here?) which my husband still drives.
7. In 2004, we bought a brand new (first time we ever bought a new car) Olds Silhouette Minivan. It is gold, and I've named it Pigpen.
My husband had a 1976 Olds Cutlass when we got married. His name was Linus...and thus began the Peanuts names.
I've never had a speeding ticket. :)
Do you have any car memories? Does anyone else name their cars?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

This Week From CFBA

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
(Thomas Nelson April 1, 2008)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ted is the son of missionaries John and Helen Dekker, whose incredible story of life among headhunters in Indonesia has been told in several books. Surrounded by the vivid colors of the jungle and a myriad of cultures, each steeped in their own interpretation of life and faith, Dekker received a first-class education on human nature and behavior. This, he believes, is the foundation of his writing. After graduating from a multi-cultural high school, he took up permanent residence in the United States to study Religion and Philosophy. After earning his Bachelor's Degree, Dekker entered the corporate world in management for a large healthcare company in California. Dekker was quickly recognized as a talent in the field of marketing and was soon promoted to Director of Marketing. This experience gave him a background which enabled him to eventually form his own company and steadily climb the corporate ladder. Since 1997, Dekker has written full-time. He states that each time he writes, he finds his understanding of life and love just a little clearer and his expression of that understanding a little more vivid. Dekker's body of work encompassing seven mysteries, three thrillers and ten fantasies includes Heaven's Wager, When Heaven Weeps, Thunder of Heaven, Blessed Child, A Man Called Blessed, Blink, Thr3e, The Circle Trilogy (Black, Red, White), and Obsessed, with two more...Renegade, and Chaos to be released later this year. ABOUT THE BOOK He died once to stop the he's dying again to save his wife. FBI behavioral psychologist Daniel Clark has become famous for his well-articulated arguments that religion is one of society’s greatest antagonists. What Daniel doesn’t know is that his obsessive pursuit of a serial killer known only as “Eve” is about to end abruptly with an unexpected death-his own. Twenty minutes later Daniel is resuscitated, only to be haunted by the loss of memory of the events immediately preceding his death. Daniel becomes convinced that the only way to stop Eve is to recover those missing minutes during which he alone saw the killer’s face. And the only way to access them is to trigger his brain’s memory dump that occurs at the time of death by simulating his death again…and again. So begins a carefully researched psychological thriller which delves deep into the haunting realities of near-death experiences, demon possession, and the human psyche. "As always with a Ted Dekker thriller, the details of ADAM are stunning, pointing to meticulous research in a raft of areas: police and FBI methods, forensic medicine, psychological profiling-in short, all that accompanies a Federal hunt for a serial killer. But Dekker fully reveals his magic in the latter part of the book, when he subtly introduces his darker and more frightening theme. It's all too creepily convincing. We have to keep telling ourselves that this is fiction. At the same time, we can't help thinking that not only could it happen, but that it will happen if we're not careful."

New York Times best-selling author Ted Dekker unleashes his most riveting novel elusive serial killer whose victims die of unknown causes and the psychologist obsessed with catching him.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Death of a Six-Foot Teddy Bear - Book Giveaway!

This is one ACTION-PACKED blog entry, full of new book news, a guest blog, a giveaway, and a tag. How's that for multi-tasking?
First, the new book news:

The latest release from Sharon Dunn!

Another murder mystery for the Bargain Hunters Network–only this time, one of them is a suspect! Ginger and her husband, Earl, are in for a wild ride in Calamity, Nevada, along with the other BHN ladies–college student Kindra, mother-of-four Suzanne, and sassy senior Arleta. They came to town for the Invention Expo and some outlet shopping, but instead they endure lost luggage, broken air conditioning, and a long line of people angry at hotel owner Dustin Clydell. With the Invention Expo and the Squirrel Lovers’ convention both in town, the Wind-Up Hotel has somehow overbooked. Before the night is over, a man has been found dead in a teddy bear costume, the Invention Expo has been canceled, Binky the water-skiing squirrel has gone missing…and the authorities want to talk to one of the BHN ladies! What else could possibly go wrong? Once again, the Bargain Hunters Network swings into sleuth mode to solve the murder–and this time, clear one of their own. Along the way, Ginger discovers something even better than a bargain.

About the Author:

Sharon Dunn is the author of Death of a Garage Sale Newbie, book one in the Bargain Hunters Mysteries, and the Ruby Taylor mystery novels including Sassy Cinderella, which was voted Book of the Year by American Christian Fiction Writers. She earned a BA in television production and a master’s in history Sharon lives in Bozeman, Montana, with her husband of twenty years, three children, two cats, and lots of dust bunnies.

A guest blog by the author, Sharon Dunn

Using Humor in Your Writing

A very scary thing happened to me after my first mystery, Romance Rustlers and Thunderbird Thieves came out--readers wrote me and told me that my book made them laugh. Yikes!! Although I knew the book had humorous undertones, I resisted being tagged as the funny mystery lady because I didn’t know if I could be funny again. My life was not all rim shots and punch lines. Five books later, I’ve become the writer of humorous who-dun-its and no longer fear the funny. I started to pay attention to how I was incorporating humor into my mysteries. Here are a few things you can try with your own writing.

First, play with language--word choice can make all the difference in creating comedic moments in a novel. An ordinary description can make a reader giggle simply by choosing words carefully with originality in mind. A woman who is wearing a low cut dress in a work setting isn’t that funny but when Kristin Billerbeck in What a Girl Wants describes the woman as being “pressurized in a torture chamber of a bra” the ordinary become hilarious. Unique metaphors go a long way in producing a chuckle. In my first Bargain Hunters mystery Death of a Garage Sale Newbie instead of just saying that Ginger’s thoughts raced, I say that her thoughts whirred around like “bananas in a blender.” When it comes to language, don’t choose the first thing that comes to mind, dig deeper. Using words in surprising ways will get at least a smile from readers.

Second, as you write, look for the potential funny moments that rise naturally out of the story. In Anne Tyler’s Back When We Were Grown Ups the main character, Rebecca, has resumed a romance with her college sweetheart who comes to her house bearing a gift. As a writer, Tyler could have simply put chocolates or flowers in the suitor’s arms, the predictable choice. Instead, the suitor brings a plant that is so huge he is not even visible when Rebecca opens the door. The humor happens when throughout the rest of the book, references are made by other characters to the huge mysterious plant that lasts longer than the rekindled romance.

Third, put your character in circumstances that run opposite to who that character is, make them uncomfortable. For example, in Death of a Garage Sale Newbie my main character Ginger is a tightwad with money who is learning to trust God more where finances are concerned. When Ginger is challenged to pay full price for a dress (something she had never done) it requires a whole support team of friends to get her to the check out counter before she has a coronary. In Cow Crimes and the Mustang Menace, my main character Ruby Taylor, a certified klutz, had to work out with the muscular crowd in order to do some investigating. These fish out of water situations tend to produce levity.

I never sit down at my computer and think, “Today I am going to be really hilarious when I write.” In the first place, that puts way too much pressure on me and it would shut down my creativity. Instead, I focus on telling a good story, then I look for chances to get my characters in sticky situations and try to use language that is surprising.

Sharon Dunn is the author of five humorous who-dun-its. Her second book in the Bargain Hunters mysteries, Death of a Six Foot Teddy Bear, was released in January 2008. The second book in her Ruby Taylor series, Sassy Cinderella and the Valiant Vigilante, was voted book of the year by American Christian Fiction Writers. You can read more about Sharon and her books at
EV: Sharon, thank you so much for guest blogging!
Anyone who leaves a comment on this blog is entered to win a copy of Death of a Six-Foot Teddy Bear. Get your name in the day-glo orange hunting hat today!
As to the Tag. Jess tagged me for a fun blog that works well today.
The rules are simple.
Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. No cheating!
Find page 123.
Find the first 5 sentences.
Post the next 3 sentences.
Tag 5 people.
This works well for today because the closest book to me at the moment is Sharon Dunn's Death of a Six-Foot Teddy Bear. So here goes:
Page 123
Don said, "We can take you into Vegas, but priority for the rides has to be for people who have a shift to work. I'm the transportation coordinator."
"She's a skinny thing. ..."
I tag:
If you girls don't want to post this on your blog, please post a reply here so we can see what you're reading.
And, you'll be entered to win a free book. Doesn't get any better than that!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Friday Five

This week's Friday Five is all about the great learning experience my first job was. I was a burger babe at McDonald's.
So, five things I learned, courtesy of McDonald's.
1. If you hit your funnybone while carrying a large order of fries, fries will scatter like confetti, positively RUSHING to get under every cart and appliance in sight so you have to practically get down on the floor to gather them into the dustpan.
2. Teenage girls can have shockingly dirty mouths. We had wireless headsets for the drive through with both a public and private frequency, and some of the girls seemed unable to communicate on the private line without profanity of the most descriptive kind. A local HAM or CB radio operator could pick up the private line and complained to the FCC.
3. You never know what to expect when working the drive-through. One man pulled up after ordering four quarter pounders, no bun, no condiments. I went to pass them through the window, and a cougar's head looked back at me. The man had a full-grown puma in that Bronco, chained with a collar to the back upper corner. I made the man reach out for the sack of meat. Can you blame me?
4. There is nothing so traumatic, nor so destined to gum up the works, as a romantic breakup of one of the guys in the grill and one of the girls in the drive-through. Angst everywhere and filling up the trash cans.
5. Though I learned a lot, working at McDonald's was a great incentive to get myself to college and find some other line of work. I didn't want to be asking folks, "Do you want fries with that?" for the rest of my life.
What was your first job? What did it teach you?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Humility of Rewrites

I've decided why it is that I hate rewrites. Not the tweaky little rewrites that strengthen characters, fix grammar, destroy passive writing, and clarifying obscure passages. I mean the kind where you have to chuck entire chapters and start from scratch, annihilate plotlines and begin again.

It's because I hate admitting that what I have written is that bad. It is humbling to get back a crit that has more of my crit partners' comments than fiction text. When that happens, I tend to peek at it, skim the comments, then put it away so I can pout. I need a day or so to think about what they've said, put it in context, and come up with a backup plan. I need time to kill some pride, admit they are right (which they mostly are), and get myself into a place where I'm willing to learn, to improve, and to sacrifice the bad for the sake of strengthening the story.

Let's just say, this has been a humbling week.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

This Week From CFBA

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
My Name is Russell Fink
Zondervan (March 1, 2008)
Michael Snyder
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michael Snyder has spent the bulk of his professional career in sales, has fallen in love, and continues to struggle with the balance between art and vocation. He's never investigated a murder, much less that of an allegedly clairvoyant dog.
ABOUT THE BOOK: Russell Fink is twenty-six years old and determined to salvage a job he hates so he can finally move out of his parents house for good. He's convinced he gave his twin sister cancer when they were nine years old. And his crazy fiancée refuses to accept the fact that their engagement really is over.Then Sonny, his allegedly clairvoyant basset hound, is found murdered.The ensuing amateur investigation forces Russell to confront several things at once-the enormity of his family's dysfunction, the guy stalking his family, and his long-buried feelings for a most peculiar love interest. At its heart, My Name is Russell Fink is a comedy, with sharp dialogue, characters steeped in authenticity, romance, suspense, and fresh humor. With a postmodern style similar to Nick Hornby and Douglas Coupland, the author explores reconciliation, forgiveness, and faith in the midst of tragedy. No amount of neurosis or dysfunction can derail God's redemptive purposes.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Bonus Coverage from CFBA

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Healing Stones
(Thomas Nelson January 1, 2008)
Stephen Arterburn & Nancy Rue

ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Stephen Arterburn is the founder and chairman of New Life Ministries—the nation’s largest faith-based broadcast, counseling and treatment ministry—and is the host of the nationally syndicated “New Life Live!” daily radio...By 1996 Nancy was a full-time writer. The Christian Heritage Series made that possible. She was writing those books from the early 1990's until 2000. And then a new opportunity came along--the Lily series. If she ever doubted that she was going to make it as a writer, man, that little red-head put those fears to rest! And, of course, Sophie followed Lily, with some teen and grown-up books in between -- plus the non-fiction books designed just for you. Nancy and her husband live in Tennessee now, overlooking a beautiful lake, lots of sycamore trees, and the rocky Tennessee hills.

ABOUT THE BOOK: With one flash of a camera, Demi's private life becomes public news. She doesn't know it yet, but her healing has just begun. Christian college professor Demitria Costanas had vowed to end her affair with a colleague. But she gives into temptation one last time...and a lurking photographer captures her weakness for all to see. Quite literally, she's the woman caught in adultery. And almost everyone--herself included--has a stone to throw. Enter Sullivan Crisp, a decidedly unorthodox psychologist with his own baggage. He's well-known for his quirky sense of humor and incorporation of "game show" theology into his counseling sessions. And yet there's something more he offers...hope for a fresh start. Reluctantly the two of them begin an uplifting, uneven journey filled with healing and grace. By turns funny and touching, this story explores the ways humans hurt each other and deceive themselves. And it shows the endlessly creative means God uses to turn stones of accusation and shame into works of beauty that lead us onto the path of healing.An auspicious debut for a candid yet tender series about pain, healing, and God's invitation for second chances.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Push Me - Pull You

Perhaps I've found a happy medium. Each time I start a new novel, I struggle with whether to plot like a dedicated SNOWFLAKER, or to fly free like the best seat-of-the-pants-er.

This week on The Edit Cafe, Becky Germany posted about the need to have a firm foundation to build your story on. HeartSong books from Barbour requires a chapter by chapter synopsis along with the proposal for a new book. I've tended to write this Chapter by Chapter after the novel is completed.

I've tried outlining, snowflaking, scene cards, you name it, knowing this will help me write quicker and tighter. But, if I get too detailed about where the story is going, I lose all enthusiasm to write it.

That was before I wrote a one-page synopsis for the Genesis contest. Then I wrote a Chapter by Chapter synopsis of that same story, fleshing out the one-page synopsis to three and a half pages. I even color coded it to show whose point of view the scene would be written in. And I'm still excited to write the story! I went so far as to write at home on a Saturday, something I don't normally do.

I think I've found the right Push Me - Pull You for this book at least. Maybe it will be my Modus Operandi from here on out. Who knows?

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Friday Five

Memories of Middle School

Continuing on the theme of last week, I'm walking down memory lane. Five things I remember from middle school:
1 Fifth Grade: The first year I went to private school. I was so far behind in math I wanted to die! The girls had to wear dresses every day. Torture! One classmate, the aforementioned Robbie. The entire class of 4-6th graders busted out laughing when Robbie couldn't pronounce the word 'manure'. In his defense it was hyphenated at the end of a line man-ure when it should have been ma-nure, but still. It was funny to us.
2 Sixth Grade: Three kids in my class, and me the only girl. David was tall and skinny and blond and we called him G.A.S. (Not for the reason you're thinking) G.A.S. stood for Get-Away-Sticks because his legs were like toothpicks and he was a fast runner.
3 Seventh Grade: The two boys left the school and two girls came. Mindy and Katrina, and we were a class of three. Happy me, I had a new friend in Mindy. She wanted to be a pathologist like Quincy on tv, which I thought was gross, but she was still a lot of fun. Seventh Grade was also the year of "The Permanent". I wanted one of those spiral perms, Shirley Temple ringlets that bounced and shone (Mostly because with my already thick, curly hair, I couldn't have a Dorothy Hamill wedge or Farrah Fawcet feathered wings) What I got was a cross between Bozo the Clown and Jimmy Walker on Rogaine. I wanted to expire, shave my head, and move to Madagascar. Instead, I had to go to school where people gawked and stared and I felt a freak. The next day my mom took me in to a different hairdresser and they cut it super short.
4 Eight Grade: I grew taller than my older sister. Still hated wearing dresses. Awkward, changing, an odd combination of boisterously silly and reclusively insecure. (Kind of like now. lol)
9 Ninth Grade: I started the year with a classmate, but by semester she had gone to public school. From this point on, I was the only on in my grade. Mr. Heter became the upper grade teacher. He read books to us just after lunch. We read about a KGB Officer who converted to Christianity and defected to America, the Wreck of the Andrea Doria, L'Abri (which we all agreed was the most boring book ever...I think we were too young to appreciate it) and fiction favorites like Where the Red Fern Grows (half the class busted out in tears the last day of that one) and Treasures of the Snow.
How about you? Got any Middleschool Memories?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Sister's Ink
Broadman & Holman Books (February 1, 2008)
Rebeca Seitz

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rebeca Seitz is Founder and President of Glass Road Public Relations. An author for several years, PRINTS CHARMING was her first novel. Rebeca cut her publicity teeth as the first dedicated publicist for the fiction division of Thomas Nelson Publishers. In 2005, Rebeca resigned from WestBow and opened the doors of GRPR, the only publicity firm of its kind in the country dedicated solely to representing novelists writing from a Christian worldview. Rebeca makes her home in Kentucky with her husband, Charles, and their son, Anderson.

ABOUT THE BOOK: Sisters, Ink marks the first in a series of novels written by, for, and about scrapbookers. At the center of the creativity and humor are four unlikely young adult sisters, each separately adopted during early childhood into the loving home of Marilyn and Jack Sinclair. Ten years after their mother Marilyn has died, the multi-racial Sinclair sisters (Meg, Kendra, Tandy, and Joy) still return to her converted attic scrapping studio in the small town of Stars Hill, Tennessee, to encourage each other through life’s highs and lows. Book one spotlights headstrong Tandy, a successful yet haunted attorney now living back in Orlando where she spent the first eight years of her life on the streets as a junkie’s kid. When a suddenly enforced leave of absence at work leads her to an extended visit with her sisters in Stars Hill, a business oppor­tunity, rekindled romance, and fresh understanding of God’s will soon follow.

"What more can any woman want? Sisters, Ink weaves the love of sisters, the fun of scrapbooking, and a romance as sugary and tingling as Sweet Home Alabama. A must read for those who love southern fiction."--DiAnn Mills, author of Leather and Lace and When the Nile Runs Red

"Fun . . . funny . . . fantastic! Rebeca Seitz has brought together scrapbooking and sisterhood in a lively romp, with a love for going home again."--Eva Marie Everson, coauthor of The Potluck Club series.
Alas, time ran out for me to read this book by blog-time. But from the little bit I was able to read, one thing stood out. How wonderful it is that there is something for everyone in Christian Fiction, and that it will be well written, faith-affirming literature. If scrapbooking isn't your thing, there are TONS of other options. And if you live to scrap...check out Rebeca Seitz's Sister's Ink.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Power of A Catchy Title

On the ACFW course loop this week the topic is Contests, and the assignment is: What draws you to a book in a bookstore? What is most likely to make you purchase a book?

Answers have ranged from author's name recognition, to cover art, to backcover copy, to catchy titles, to great first lines.

I love a great first line, myself. In fact, my favorite first line of all time comes from To The Hilt by Dick Francis. "I don't suppose my stepfather much minded dying: that he almost took me with him wasn't really his fault." Isn't that great? And the entire book is just as amazing.

But I also love a catchy title. One of the reasons I love Dick Francis' books is that the titles always contain a double meaning.

But to illustrate the power of a catchy title, I was wandering the stacks of my local library one day looking for something to catch my eye. I enjoy reading mysteries, and our library shelves mysteries in their own section. After determining I'd read all the Ellis Peters books and all the Elizabeth Peters books, and all the Anne Perry Inspector Monk books (can you tell what section I was in?) I decided to pick up something totally new. Trolling along, a book title caught my eye. What on earth could a book by this title be about?

It was Sarah Graves' The Dead Cat Bounce. What a great title. I pulled the book down and read the back cover. Intriguing. I took the book home and read it in two days. I enjoyed it so much, I went to the bookstore and bought it, and the next three or four in the series that were available at that time. Since then, I've purchased each new book in the Home Repair is Homicide series, even going so far as to purchase them in hardback when her publisher made the jump to publishing the books in that format first. There are now 11 books in the series, and I've enjoyed them all. All that from one eye-catching title in the library.

So, what is it that makes you pick up a book? The title? The cover art? The author's name? And have you ever found such a great title you just had to read the book?

Oh, and for the record, a dead cat bounce is a stock market term. Often when a stock is in free-fall, it will rebound slightly before bottoming out. Because even something as limp and futureless as a dead cat will bounce when it is dropped. No cats were injured or killed in the writing of this book. :)

Monday, February 04, 2008

Okay, okay, I know I said....but....

I know I said the 'how-to' books would have to wait until after I finished another rough draft, but I had already ordered this one, and it was sitting on my bedside table just begging me to dip into it.

I have heard various authors refer to Debra Dixon's Goal, Motivation & Conflict before. Always with very high praise. But the book was only available through a small press! How good could it be if didn't sell it new??

But more authors whose work I admire mentioned it as a great resource and teaching tool. So I ordered it.

Boy howdy, am I glad I did. I've been wallowing in the 'want to be a plotter' and 'born to fly by the seat of my pants' battle for some time now. I can see all the merits of an outline, scene cards, timelines, character charts, style sheets, and snowflake methods, but once I start down that path, the joy of the story seems to wane, the heat of anticipation snuffs like a guttering candle, and I lose all enthusiasm to write the book.

But Debra Dixon cuts right to the heart of the matter for me. She asks four simple questions:





Why Not?

Who refers to the character, hero, heroine, or villain. What is what that character wants (the Goal). Why is why that character wants that particular thing (Motiviation). and Why not is what is keeping that character from reaching his/her goal (Conflict).

Debra uses several well-known movies to break down the various parts of GMC (Goal, Motivation, Conflict). The Wizard of Oz, The Fugitive, Star Wars, The Client, Casablanca, and Ladyhawke. (How did she get her hands on a list of some of my favorite movies?) By dissecting the GMC's of these films, she shows us why these are some of our favorite movies. The characters all want something, they all have pressing needs as to why this thing must be accomplished (and some of them have a time crunch too, which ups the ante) and they all have roadblocks standing in their way that make them chose between their goal and the easy path.

Having this simple plan in mind makes it easier to craft characters, to visualize plots, and to keep the conflict ramped up enough to make the reader want to keep turning pages. And all without going into so much detail that the delights of discovery are rubbed out for the SOTP writer.

The authors who recommended this book were right. A great tool I endorse!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

And the winner is....

The Day-glo orange hat came out of the closet, the names went in, and James pulled out the name of our winner. Drumroll Please!........The winner of Reluctant Smuggler by Jill Nelson is....
DONNA! (Who can now quit saying she never wins anything on my blog.)
Congratulations! I'll get the book in the mail to you this week.
On The Write Path will be giving away more books in the near future. Get your names in the hat and get your hands on some of the best Christian Fiction out there.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Friday Five

Since last week's 'five' was so well received, I thought we'd visit elementary school again.
Five things I remember from Hageman Elementary School in Salina, Kansas:
1. Kindergarten: I sat at the Orange Rhombus table. I felt like a geek. No one knew what a Rhombus was. All the cool kids sat at the Purple Ellipse table. Not that we knew what an Ellipse was either. At least not that first day. I learned to lace my shoes that year, and that if a dog is happy to see you, it will wag its tail. One boy said a bad word and the teacher made him take a bite out of a bar of Irish Spring. He barfed it on the floor on his way back to his seat. (At where else but the Orange Rhombus table.)
2. First Grade: My teacher had a bee-hive hairdo, and she wore bright red lipstick where she had no lips. She had checkered polyester pants, and she taught us to read silently. I drew a picture of a siamese cat that my art teacher loved enough to mat and display for several years in her art room.
3. Second Grade: My teacher made us color with square crayons that were hard to hold. She used the overhead projector to teach math (which I always thought was silly with those miles and miles of chalkboards around the room) and she wore her wristwatch so that she had to turn her wrist over and look at it on the inside of her arm. When we were being too loud and unruly, she'd slap down the bank of lightswitches and yell "FREEZE!" It is amazing what sort of convoluted positions a second grader can get into between the lights going out and the teacher's yell. We became adept at hanging out of our desks and balancing on one foot. :)
4. Third Grade: My best friend, Tresa, and I played at every recess. All the girls were in love with Shaun Cassidy (Da do run run) and I got a pale blue satin jacket for Christmas. Not as cool as Kipra Appleby's blue satin jacket with Shaun Cassidy's face on the back, but cool, nonetheless. Our teacher read us the entire Little House series, and I was put in remedial reading. Good gravy. I read all the time! I missed the last few days of third grade due to a family funeral several states away.
5. Fourth Grade: my last year in public school. My teacher was fantabulous. She put up with a wild class. She read us some amazing books, and we learned about Yanamamo Indians in the Amazon. This was also the year we got to write in cursive. I had a crush on Scott T. mostly because he had been to the Smithsonian Institute. Was I a geek or what? We were brutal to a substitute teacher named Miss Smiedler who wore platform heels. Such monsters.
What about you? Any memories from elementary school?