Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Three Ingredient Meatballs


Here is a recipe I got from my dad. I tried it out on the family last week. :)
Party Meatballs:
1 small jar grape jelly
1. 12 oz bottle Heinz Chili Sauce
1 bag frozen meatballs.
Mix the jelly and chili sauce together and dump over frozen meatballs in a crock pot. Cook on low, stirring every so often.
These are de-lish!
Do you have a 3 ingredient recipe? Send it along, I'd love to blog about it!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Poetry


First, isn't this a beautiful picture? My mom took it when she was visiting a friend in England. So serene. I love it.


Second, my daughter wrote some poetry this past semester for a literature class, and I loved them so much, I wanted to share them with you. I'm no poet, though I do love reading it.



So, here are some poems by Heather for you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.






1B. - “Write a descriptive poem that uses similes, metaphors, and images that appeal to the senses.”

“Mystery creature”

The Okapi is such a mysterious creature.
Part giraffe, part zebra, and part something else
Completely. Its feet are a goat’s,
Neat and nimble. Its legs are a zebra’s,
Striped and swift. Its tail is a cow’s,
Fly-swatting and furry. Its back is a donkey’s,
Brown and broad. Its neck is a gazelle’s,
Slender and sleek. Its horns are a giraffe’s,
Short and stubby. Its eyes are a camel’s,
Long-lashed and liquid. Its ears are a bunny’s,
Large and listening. Its manners are a sheep’s,
Mild and meek. But its name is truly its own,
Okapi Johnstoni. Mystery creature.


2A. – “Write a poem about a vivid memory of someone special to you.”

“Song”

My Dad has a happy song.
It is a song that is more of a melody
Than a song.
It has no words, yet
It is innately
Happy.

My Dad used to sing his song.
He would come home from work singing.
We would sing with him
When I was little.
All of us.
Happy.

My Dad used to sing his song,
But life has changed since then.
He comes home tired.
He no longer sings.
No longer quite as
Happy.

I wish my Dad would sing his song,
That we could be so happy, like we were.
I caught him humming
His song today.
It made me
Happy.

Side note here: This poem was written not long after my husband's mother passed away. When the time of intense grief had passed, and the kids and I heard him humming his happy tune under his breath, we all knew a lightening of heart.







2D. - Write a poem about God’s glory.

“How blessed is the rain”

How blessed is the rain as it falls upon the land!
It is a simple gift, Providence from God’s own hand.
How could water falling from the sky above
Be such a simple act of God’s unfailing love?

The height of the grey clouds that over me now swirl
Attest how lofty are God’s thoughts as He orders the world.
The rhythm of the rain that in curtains falls
Gives tribute to the laws that God put over all.

The power of the winds show me what must be
A reflection of God’s glory and His boundless majesty.
The rumble of the thunder that now shakes me to the bone
Reminds me I am safe when I trust in Him alone.

The colors of the rainbow, brushed by God’s own hand,
Prove God keeps His promise, so I obey His command.
And the promise He gave to Noah, which still applies to me,
Says no matter what the year is His Providence will not cease.




Today is the second half of the interview over at Favorite PASTimes. Check it out, and enter to win a copy of The Bartered Bride.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Looking Back, Looking Forward


This is a good time of year to be looking back on what has happened over the past 12 months and look ahead to the next year.
I'm a big believer in assessing progress, making plans, and listing goals. I don't always get everything done that I hope to, but I know I get more done than if I didn't have a plan.
Sometimes I make out my list of things I'd like to get accomplished, and I'm daunted. It seems so overwhelming.
One way of overcoming this feeling is by looking backwards at what I have accomplished, how far I've come. I go back through blog posts here where I've listed goals and see how many times I've met my goals in the past.
I also divide and conquer. Responsibilities abound in several areas of my life, and in order to get them done, I divide them up into sections. Spiritual goals. Family goals, including homeschooling. Church responsibilities. Bookkeeping duties. Writing. And writing is subdivided further into writing, editing, blogging, social networking, marketing, etc.
By breaking things down into smaller units, I'm better able to assess both the time/energy it will take to get it done, but also the best strategy for attacking the task.
So, As I forge into 2010, I'm looking back at 2009 to see where I've been, and I'm looking ahead to see what might be in store. And through it all, I'm reminded that a woman may make plans, but it is God who is in charge.
Are you happy with your progress from 2009? Are you making plans for 2010? How do you plan to divide and conquer this year?
As and added little bonus, I'm being interviewed over at Favorite PASTimes Blog. You can read the interview by clicking HERE.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Heartsong Connection!

I'm so excited to announce the formation of a new blog! Please hop on over to Heartsong Connection and visit the new gathering place for Heartsong Authors and Readers. Learn about the newest Heartsong releases and enter to win prizes.

We want this to be a fun community where we can celebrate the things we love, reading and writing love stories that honor God. There will be guest blogs by authors, chances to learn about settings and time periods you might not be familiar with, and each week, an older Heartsong will be showcased. It might be one you missed, or one of your favorites that you'll have a chance to revisit.

Also, we would love it if you would please help us spread the word about this new blog. Please encourage your own blog readers to stop by and check out Heartsong Connection.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Three Ingredient Thursday


Dump Cake!

2 cans ( 21 oz) pie filling or fruit like peaches including juice)
1 package cake mix
1/2 cup butter
(Optional 1/2 tsp of cinnamon or apple pie spice)

Preheat oven to 350o

Spray 9 x 13" baking dish with cooking spray

Empty fruit into baking pan. Cover with dry cake mix and press down.

Cut butter into small pieces and place on top of dry cake mix

Bake at 350, for approx. 40 min. until cake is done.

Serve with whipped topping or ice cream.

Fruits and cake mix flavors can be varied:

Blueberry with yellow or white
Apple with spice, yellow, or white
Cherry with chocolate, yellow or white
Peach with yellow, spice or white
Pear with yellow, spice or white
Pineapple chunks or tidbits, with yellow, spice or white
Thank you to CJ for this yummy and easy-sounding recipe!!!!
I hope you have a happy Christmas Eve, all! I'm excited to attend our Christmas Eve service tonight with my family...and my church family!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Old Friends



I've been reuniting with some old friends.

Essie Summers books.

I LOVE Essie Summers books. And I've been re-reading my favorites.

Do you re-read old favorites?

Some folks never read a book twice. I read my favorites over and over again.

So what am I gleaning by revisiting these books?

1. Essie's books are about the same length as the stories I am writing now, so it helps me get the pace.

2. Essie's books incorporate faith in a very natural way, reminding me not to try to hit my reader over the head with the spiritual message of the book. It is okay for the characters to just BE people of faith and have it a part of their lives.

3. Essie's lovely vocabulary and word usage. I have gleaned so much from her word-smithing.

4. Love stories. Essie is the master of writing a true romance not based on titillation or unbridled passion. Her stories are based upon family, faith, and respect between men and women.

5. Her amazing poetry. Essie wrote beautiful poetry and it resonates with me. I'm not normally a big fan of poetry, mostly because I think the poet is trying too hard to be artsy. But Essie wrote poems that expressed her faith and her view of the world, and they speak to me. She also included poems that she enjoyed written by other writers.

Here are four of my favorites.



Season of Forgetfulness
Sweet is the season of forgetfulness,
Succeeding thus the passon and the pain,
The healing time, the quiet time of pausing
Till, in God's wisdom, you will love again.
~Essie Summers
Not by Appointment
Not by Appointment do we meet delight
Or joy; they heed not our expectancy;
But round some corner of the streets of life
They of a sudden greet us with a smile.
~Essie Summers
Farewell to a Little Boy
Honey, there will be a hoop
And hills to roll it down...
(God couldn't give a little boy
The burden of a crown).
He'll show you lots of trees to climb
And where He keeps the swings.
(God, let him have a ball and bat
Instead of shining wings!)
And will He let you sail a kite
Up where the sky is clear,
Without tall buildings stopping down?
Of course He will, my dear!
Now close your eyes...I'll kiss them shut
The way I always do...
(I must...I must not cry, dear God,
Until he's safe with You.)
~Anonymous
Green
I have loved green--the green of lovely things;
The pale, flat discs of new nasturtium leaves,
The feathers of a mountain-parrot's wings,
The first frail grass that Spring, new-awakened weaves;
And depthless pools where tides have ceased to run,
And winter apples hanging in the sun!
I have loved green--bright-dropping beads of jade,
Soft pussy-willow silk with silvery folds,
Books with green covers carelessly arrayed,
And emerald bottles capped with tinselled golds!
But the green wonder of your laughing eyes
Stirs me each time, O Love, to new surprise
~ Jane East
If you do re-read your favorites, what do you glean from them?
Do you have a favorite from the poems I've posted here?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tagged by Katie!


Last week I was tagged by Katie to post the answers to a slew of writing questions. Thanks, Katie!!


What's the last thing you wrote? Edits on Maggie and the Maverick.
What's the first thing you wrote that you still have? A story I wrote in 9th grade about a girl, a horse, a circus...LOL!
Write poetry? All my attempts at poetry come out sounding like Dr. Seuss, but not as fun.
Angsty poetry? Um, no!
Favorite genre of writing? Historical Romance! Squeee!
Most annoying character you've ever created? A Lighthouse Inspector. The good news is, he was supposed to be annoying.
Best Plot you've ever created? The plot of Drums of the North Star. Weaving all the actual historical events into the storyline was HARD!
Coolest Plot twist you've ever created? Can't tell, that would spoil the surprise. :)
How often do you get writer's block? I don't know that I actually have had writer's block yet.
Write fan fiction? I used to, but set it aside to pursue publication.
Do you type or write by hand? There are people who write by hand???
Do you save everything you write? Nope.
Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it? Yes, but only if I think I can make it better.
What's your favorite thing you've ever written? Whatever I'm working on at the time.
What's everyone else's favorite story that you've written? Since I only have one novel out at the moment, I'm going to choose The Bartered Bride. :)
Ever written romance or angsty teen drama? Romance is what I write all the time...angsty teen drama, nope.
What's your favorite setting for your characters? I loved creating the Sutton Island Lighthouse on a fictional island in Lake Superior.
How many writing projects are you working on right now? I used to be a very linear writer, but now I work on whatever my editors send to me. Content edits, copy edits, galley proofs, the current WIP. I'm learning to juggle things and focus on the project that is the most urgent.
Have you ever won an award for your writing? Third place and first place in the Genesis Contest in 2008.
What are your five favorite words? This one changes all the time. I like Reciprocity, Kaleidoscopic, Oleaginous, Chatelaine, and Spork.
What character have you created that is most like yourself? I tend to create characters like I WISH I was.
Where do you get ideas for your characters? Reading history books, the Bible, and one name in my debut novel came from a lady at church.
Do you ever write based on your dreams? I don't think so.
Do you favor happy endings? YES!!!
Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write? Yes.
Does music help you write? No, although I have learned to tune out the Caribou Soundtrack at the Coffee Shop.
Quote something you've written. Whatever pops into your head. This is the first line of my current WIP: A handsome man couldn’t be trusted, Maggie Davis reminded herself, and a girl would be wise to watch out for the ugly ones, too.

Monday, December 21, 2009

It's all about the Kiss!


Katie and Sherrinda have declared today Official Kissing Day Blogfest in Honor of Mistletoe!
Here is what to do if you want to participate in the Official Kissing Day Blogfest:
1. Write a post telling about the Official Kissing Day Blogfest. This way more writer/bloggers will get the word and be able to participate on Monday, Dec. 21st.
2. Tweet about it, using the hash tag: #kissingdayblogfest (I don't know if this will help get the word out, but I thought it might be fun to try.)
3. On Monday, December 21st, post on your blog an excerpt from your current WIP, or write a new scene that spotlights a kiss or an "almost kiss".
4. If you are not a writer, or are uncomfortable sharing your work online, post your favorite kissing scene or almost-kissing scene from any book or movie.
So, here is one of the kissing scenes from my soon-to-be-released title The Marriage Masquerade.
The instant Nick’s lips settled on hers, Annie knew she’d been waiting for this moment for a long time. Clasped in his arms, sheltered, secure, she gave herself over to the wonder of his kiss. The salty taste of her tears mingled with the sweetness of knowing herself cherished by the man she’d come to care for so deeply. In that instant, she dreamed a thousand dreams, made a thousand plans, let her heart soar.
With the abruptness of being thrown in the lake, Nick broke the kiss and pushed her from him. Annie blinked, stunned. Had she done something wrong?
His hands fisted at his sides, and his breath came in gasps. Those lips that had so recently caressed hers formed a hard line. He swallowed hard. “My apologies. I had no right to do that. It won’t happen again, I assure you.”
“Nick?” Her hand went out to him. “You don’t need to apologize.”
He shook his head, staring past her shoulder toward the lighthouse. “You have no idea, Annie. There are things that prevent me from—” He broke off and turned away from her. “I’m sorry.” He strode across the clearing and disappeared into the watch room.
Annie sank to the fallen log and buried her face in her hands. Great sobs wracked her shoulders, sticking in her throat. She wiped her eyes once more with his handkerchief, noting the bold NNK embroidered in navy blue on the white linen. How could he be so kind and gallant on the one hand, and so cold and distant on the other?She had bared her soul, her deepest shameful secret to him, had dared to dream he might be able to look past that and love her anyway, but in the end, she was as alone and unlovable as ever. And she had no one to blame but herself.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Friday Five


In less than a week we'll have my favorite service of the year at church. I love the Christmas Eve service.
So this week's Friday Five is:
Five things I love about the Christmas Eve Service at church.
1. The atmosphere. Everyone, even those who claim to be Christmas Curmudgeons, are rather merry and cheerful. :) And we're reminded again what Christmas is REALLY about.
2. The decorations. The overhead lights are dimmed and candlelight and tiny white Christmas lights shine like stars. Creamy white poinsettias, evergreen boughs, golden ribbon. It's just all so beautiful.
3. The surprise. Every year the pastor has a special treat for us. A poem he's written, a song he sings, a drama, something that is his gift to his congregation each year. He's been here more than a decade, so he really has to work hard to come up with something original each year now, though I wouldn't mind at all if he duplicated something. :)
4. The music. I really enjoy singing carols with my church friends.
5. The candlelight ending. Each person gets an unlit candle, we stand in a big circle in the sanctuary, and the flame goes around the circle until everyone has a lit candle. We sing one last carol before departing.
How about you? Do you have a church service on Christmas Eve? Do you enjoy it? Do you have a favorite memory?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

An inedible Three Ingredient Thursday


This week's Three Ingredient Thursday isn't for anything you can eat, but it is for something that sure smells good and is very Christmassy.
Three Ingredient Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments:
1. 1 Cup Applesauce
2. 1 Cup Cinnamon (bulk powder)
3. 2. Tablespoons tacky glue
Knead ingredients until smooth and consistent ball has formed. Sprinkle cinnamon on countertop and roll out dough to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. (Thicker ornaments are sturdier but take longer to dry.) Cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Use toothpick to make a hole for ribbon so you can hang them up later. Allow them to air dry completely on wax paper (24-48 hrs.) Turn them as needed if they start to cur. Sprinkle fine glitter or use puff paint for a nice effect. They will smell great for years!
This recipe comes courtesy of Jill Pearson.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Anniversary!


Today is my 20th wedding anniversary. 20 years of marriage to the most wonderful man alive.
So, for today, it's 20 things I love about Peter, one for every year we've been married. (In no particular order and certainly not everything I could list.)
1. He's so kind.
2. His sense of humor. Very dry, very funny.
3. His faith. Rock solid.
4. How hard he works. Many, many hours a week, in a job I couldn't do.
5. His generosity.
6. He believes in me and roots for me when I want to achieve something.
7. He's a great father.
8. His faithful service. More than 25 years as an AWANA leader and he serves as a deacon and Sunday School director and teacher.
9. He is a first-rate spider killer.
10. He lets me watch sports on tv and yell at the tv. :)
11. He let me have a cat, even though he's not really a cat person.
12. He's a great provider.
13. He's easy-going, especially about the housework and cooking situation.
14. He takes over the higher math next year with the homeschooling.
15. He indulges my book-buying.
16. He talks to me. We've stayed up all night talking before.
17. He loves museums almost as much as I do.
18. He's easy to be around.
19. He forgives me when I blow it.
20. He loves me.
Happy Anniversary, Peter! I love you!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Another look at the next cover.





Last week I unveiled the new cover art for my second book, The Marriage Masquerade.
I can't tell you how thrilled I am with this cover. The lighthouse on the cover has special meaning to me. The fictional lighthouse in The Marriage Masquerade, Sutton Island Light, was patterned closely after Split Rock Lighthouse on the North Shore of Lake Superior.
The pictures below were taken this past September by my mom.





This is us at Split Rock. (I've had a terrible time getting the photos to post in the right places! Argh!!
As you can see, we really love this place, and it was touring Split Rock that gave me the idea for the setting of The Marriage Masquerade in the first place.



Thank you to Ashley and everybody at Heartsong Presents for creating such a beautiful
and fitting cover for me. I will treasure it always!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fame...huh?


Last week the local newspaper called me for an interview. Well, sort of. They had received a copy of my book. (A business contact of mine belongs to the same social group...Kiwanis? Rotary? Something like that, with the editor of the Rochester Post Bulletin, and he took my book along to a club meeting and passed it to the editor.)
So, the phone rings, and it's a reporter from the Post Bulletin who would like to ask me a few questions. She runs the social column of the newspaper.
I answered her three or four questions, and she said "It should run in this weekend's paper."
I couldn't help but think that Almina Brooke, the mother of the heroine in The Bartered Bride would have been so proud of me, appearing in the social column and all.
When the article appeared, I had to laugh. Though I told the reporter that I was originally from Kansas, she marked me down as being from Indiana. And, somewhere in the mix, I gained another child. A girl I evidently named after myself.
She also put a publication time for a compilation book to come out, though I didn't tell her when that would be, mostly because I don't know when it might happen. And she calls the publisher Heartsong Press instead of Heartsong Presents.
Makes you wonder about the accuracy of the rest of the stuff you read in the newspaper when a simple interview about a book contains so many errors.
Anyway, though there are some of errors in the column, here it is.
Inspired by travel
When you plan a summer vacation, do you plan to hit the sights or relax on the beach or at the end of a dock? Local author Erica Vetsch sets aside time to visit local museums and places of historical interest during her vacations. A trip to Duluth got her creative juices flowing.
"I grew up in Indiana, so the harbor really captured my interest," she says. Visits to the Maritime Museum, the Split Rock Light House and the St. Louis County Historical Society inspired her to write "The Bartered Bride." The book is the first in a three-book series that tells the fictional story of two families in the Duluth area.
Vetsch is a Rochester woman who had written "a few books" before "The Bartered Bride" was published. During the rest of her day, she helps her husband Peter with a different kind of bookwork the bookkeeping for the family lumber business. Erica is also a homeschool mom to Heather, James and Erica.
"The Bartered Bride" is available through Heartsong Press to their book club members, however next spring, all three books will be published in one book that will be available at local retailers.
Vetsch is currently working on her next project, a three-book series about a family in the Idaho area. Sounds like another interesting vacation!

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Friday Five


This week's Friday Five is:
Five Christmas This or Thats?
I'll answer with my preferences here, but you answer in your comments because...well, because I'm nosy and I want to know! :)
1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot Chocolate, no contest.
2. Tree Topper: Angel or Star? Star, with blinky lights.
3. Sugar Cookies or Candy Canes? Sugar Cookies, with icing, and sprinkles.
4. Open gifts on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve? Christmas Day. We used to get to open one gift on Christmas Eve, but it was almost always the new dress my mom had made for the Christmas Eve service that we already knew we were getting because it had been fitted to us several times. Always pretty, but not exactly a surprise.
5. Christmas Cards: Yes, or no? Um...sad to say, mostly "no." I used to send them out, but the list got so unmanageable, I decided not to send them anymore.
How about you?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Three Ingredient Thursday


This week's Three Ingredient Thursday is:
Fruit Dip:
1 Large Jar Marshmallow Creme
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1 tsp. almond extract.
Blend all and chill. Serve with fresh fruit.
A great addition to a party buffet. Might have to use this one at the New Year's Day Extravaganza.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

New Cover Art!


Here's the new cover art for The Marriage Masquerade, sequel to The Bartered Bride. I think it is so beautiful! Absolutely perfect and just what I had envisioned. Thank you to Ashley Shrock, terrific graphic designer at Barbour. She's been so great to work with, she really captured the vision for this story, and she listened to my ideas.
Do you have visions for the cover of your story? Do you have things you like about book covers? Things you don't like?
For me, I'm not a fan of the "headless hero(ine)" covers. They seem to be very popular right now, but they aren't my first preference.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Copy Edits


This week I'm using some of the fun clip art that I've gotten from Dover Publications. You can sign up at Dover for an email sampler of copyright free clip art. It arrives in my inbox each Friday, and I peruse the clip art and samples available, and keep what I like and discard what I don't.
Last week I posted my goals for December.
I'm already having to revise them.
I got copy edits for Clara and the Cowboy (Thank you, Aaron!) Content edits for Lily and the Lawman are pending any moment. (Thank you, Rachel!) And my copy editor, Aaron, informed me that copy edits for The Engineered Engagement are next on his list.
Maggie and the Maverick is begging to be finished, and I have about 50 more pages to edit on a crit partner's work.
This is one of those times when you have to roll with the punches and really buckle down to get the work done. How's that for mixing metaphors?
So, how are your goals for the month holding up? Are you making changes and working hard? Or are you taking it at an easier pace and enjoying the festivities with a plan to get back to it after the first of the year?

Monday, December 07, 2009

Baby Shower


This past Saturday, I gave the devotional at a baby shower at my church.
It brought back so many memories. 17 years ago, I was the new mom with the adorable baby girl.
I took several little gifts as object lessons.
A blanket sleeper, to remind us that God knew us intimately before we were even born. I love blanket sleepers because they are like a whole little package of baby. And God made that whole little package. And He loves our children even more than we do.
A set of teething rings to remind us that though sometimes we might feel as if we've bitten off more than we can chew, God is the one in control, and He loves our children even more than we do.
A rattle, to remind us that though we might get rattled as our plans are tossed into the disposal, God's plans are never thwarted, and He loves our children even more than we do.
Burp cloths for protection, to remind us that even though we can't be there to protect our children, God is their eternal refuge and underneath them are the everlasting arms, because He loves our children even more than we do.
And finally, a set of baby spoons, to remind us that progress is a good thing, and that our job as mothers is to raise our children to not need us anymore, though they will never outgrow our need for God. God will be faithful because He loves our children even more than we do.
So, question for you? If you're a mom, did you have a baby shower, and do you remember anything about the devotional? :)

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Friday Five Plus Five



This week's Friday Five:
Five things that have changed about Christmas since I was a kid:
1. How soon Christmas season starts. Seems like it's earlier every year.
2. The fact that somehow Christmas is a dirty word, and we're supposed to say Happy Holidays instead.
3. L.E.D. lights. So cool.
4. Expectations for what constitutes a successful holiday. Big gifts, big Christmas Card list, busy schedules.
5. The after Thanksgiving sales that used to start at 8 am now start at 3 am, and people are injured in the stampedes.
HOWEVER, since I don't want the holiday season to begin on a downer:
There are many things that are the same about Christmas since when I was a kid.
1. The decorating of the house on the weekend after Thanksgiving.
2. All the anticipation and the keeping of happy little secrets.
3. That the Christmas Eve service is my favorite church service of the year.
4. Hoping it snows, at least for Christmas.
5. How little sleep I get the night before and getting up early on Christmas morning.

So, tell me one thing you've noticed that's different about Christmas, and one thing that is just the same.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Three Ingredient Thursday


Veggie Tales and Jr. Asparagus notwithstanding, today's Three Ingredient Thursday is:
Grilled/broiled asparagus.
Ingredients:
Asparagus
Soy Sauce
Salt
For Broiling: line a baking sheet with foil. Peel the stem end of the asparagus, slice off any stems that are too thick and might be tough or woody. Sprinkle with soy sauce and a little salt. Don't forget that soy sauce is a bit salty, so don't overdo the salt. Place under the broiler until the asparagus is cooked all the way through and bends, but not mushy or limp. Halfway through, pull out the pan and roll the asparagus over.
Bend up the sides of a sheet of aluminum foil to form a shallow pan. Follow Broiling directions, turning asparagus halfway through the cooking process.
Even my kids love this one. It is De-lish!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

As Seen On TV



Okay, I'm in love with my new laptop desk. I braved the crowds on Black Friday (kind of by accident, because I had NO intention of being uptown on that day...but you know how it is, the best laid plans of mice and men..and me) and went in to Bed Bath and Beyond and picked up this little number.



It fits me perfectly, just the right height for sitting in bed and typing. It's the right size, lightweight, and portable, folds down flat, includes a booklight.


Next to my laptop and plot board and the book Goal, Motivation, & Conflict by Debra Dixon, I'd have to say, this little desk is the coolest writing thing I've gotten yet.


How about you? Do you have a cool writing thing?
Oh, and I did win NaNoWriMo this year. Yay. 50K words in 30 days. The story needs polishing, but I'm really loving how it is going.
Congratulations to all my friends who also completed NaNo, and if you tried and didn't win, no worries, you got more done than if you hadn't tried at all, and that's what it's all about!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A Blog Tour with Tiffany Stockton

Today we're visiting with fellow Heartsong author Tiff Stockton and you'll have a chance to read about her books and click on links to read the first chapters of her books. She's also answered some interview questions here for us. First, here's a little about Tiffany.


Tiffany Amber Stockton is an author, online marketing consultant, and web site designer who lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart, and their baby daughter in Colorado. They also have a vivacious Border Collie mix named Roxie. Amber has sold eight books to Barbour Publishing with more on the horizon. Other writing credits include five short stories for Romancing the Christian Heart, and contributions to Grit for the Oyster and 101 Ways to Romance Your Marriage. Her goal in writing is to convey the message that God is always present, even during the most difficult circumstances. Read more about her at her web site: www.amberstockton.com.


And now, a few questions and answers with Tiffany:

Why do you write historical romance?

Well, that all depends. If you’re asking why I write historical fiction, it’s because I’ve always been fascinated by history and the people who have gone before us. But history class bored me to tears. So, I love telling those stories through the eyes of people who lived it. Bringing it alive to my readers and perhaps helping them gain a better appreciation or understanding is a welcome challenge.

Now, if you ask why I write romance, that’s because I enjoy the process of taking God’s love for us and turning into a ‘happily ever after’ story. If you believe in God and His promises, you know that no matter how bad things get, there is hope, and things will get better. Romance, for me, allows me to demonstrate that hope. I depict characters enduring what might appear to be impossible situations. By going through them and rising above them, especially in regard to relationships, the characters glimpse that hope and experience the happy ending.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

I love photography, although I only consider myself an amateur, and I enjoy scrapbooking, even though my books are in dire need of some TLC. Traveling is a favorite pastime along with music, movies, bowling, swimming and horseback riding when I can.

How has being published changed your life?

It has given me a new lease on life, so to speak. Now that I’ve sold and am starting to establish readers, I’m receiving feedback on how my books have touched their lives. It’s an amazing testimony to read how the words I’ve written have spoken to someone who has read them. God has given me this gift, and I’m thrilled beyond words to have the opportunity to use this gift to His glory.

And now, about Tiffany's Books!



Promises, Promises

Barbour Publishing/Heartsong Presents
Book 1 of Liberty's Promise (HP #784)At Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1597899399/eagledesigns-20
Release date: February 2008
ISBN-10: 1597899399
ISBN-13: 9781597899390

-- Raelene Strattford believes God has forsaken her, but her neighbor proves just the opposite while giving her a voice in a world where women have none. --

Has God forsaken Raelene? What kind of God would take a girl's family and leave her alone in a wild land where women have no voice? When Gustaf Hanssen promises Raelene's dying father that he will take care of her, he finds himself bound to her happiness, her success, and her well-being in ways he never imagined. To keep his word, must Gustaf really oversee all of Raelene's affairs, find her a husband, and maintain her farm, while she does nothing but scorn him? Can God reach through Raelene's pain and self-centeredness and give her the love that awaits, if only she will accept His will?

Read the first chapter here: http://www.amberstockton.com/excerpts/ppexcerpt.html



Quills & Promises
Barbour Publishing/Heartsong Presents
Book 2 of Liberty's Promise (HP #803)
Release date: July 2008
ISBN-10: 160260049X
ISBN-13: 9781602600492

-- Separated from Madison when he leaves to fight the French and Indians, Elanna Hanssen must choose between her heart and her head, especially when Madison's integrity is questioned. --

Innocence paired with wisdom beyond her years--With these traits, Elanna Hanssen unwittingly captures the attentions of Major Madison Scott. Her honest desire to understand the war fascinates him, and he resolves to get to know this perspicacious young lady better. When he is called away to fight the French and the Indians, they begin a correspondence, cautiously baring their hearts to one another. Elanna has never known emotions like these before, but she is drawn to the integrity she sees in her major. When a writer for the first newspaper in the colony questions the major's credentials and activities, however, will she allow her heart or her head to rule? Can true love grow over such distance and around such obstacles?

Read the first chapter here: http://www.amberstockton.com/excerpts/qpexcerpt.html



Deceptive Promises

Barbour Publishing/Heartsong Presents
Book 3 of Liberty's Promise (HP #823)
Release date: November 2008
ISBN-10: 1602601895
ISBN-13: 9781602601895

-- Living during the American Revolution and the formation of a new nation, Margret Scott gets involved with a spy and a life of deception that could endanger herself, her family and the man she loves. --

Is deception fair in wartime? Margret Scott finds she must deal with this question as she becomes attracted to the enigmatic Samuel Lowe. As the tensions grow between the colonists and the British soldiers and loyalists, Margret struggles to determine where Samuel's loyalties lie, despite his reassurances that they lie with the colonists. Samuel's duties have him working for both sides of this war, and he is often torn between what is right and what is wrong. He promises Margret she can trust him, and Margret promises him she does. But can promises born in deception be trusted? Can relationships built in uncertainty survive?

Read the first chapter here: http://www.amberstockton.com/excerpts/dpexcerpt.html



Liberty's Promise
Amber's first 3 books repackaged into 1 volume
Romancing America collectionBarbour Publishing
Release date: March 2010
ISBN-10: 1602607990
ISBN-13: 9781602607996

Publisher's description: Relive the birth of a new country as three women battle for determining to whom they can entrust their hearts. Raelene is all alone, but is there peace in following the wishes of her deceased father? Elanna is intelligent for her young age, but will her love for an older man turn into a passing fancy when his integrity is questioned? Margret's loyalties are torn when the colonists rebel, for how can a relationship with a British soldier built on deceptions survive? Will each woman find her place of freedom to embrace her faith and trust her heart to love?



Copper and Candles
Barbour Publishing/Heartsong Presents
Book 1 of Michigan historical series (HP #843)
Release date: April 2009
ISBN-10: 1602603405
ISBN-13: 9781602603400

—A young lady of means discovers that keeping secrets, no matter how noble the intent, demands a price that she and a refinery worker, with all their resources, might not be able to pay.—

Society teas and garden parties, shopping, gossip—Life as a young lady of means may be fun, but Felicity wants to do more. Unfortunately, she finds that her position and wealth can sometimes hinder her efforts to help those around her in need. Thus, when a charity case falls ill and cannot work, Felicity determines to go to work as a commoner in Detroit's dangerous factory district. Relationships become complicated, however, and she soon finds herself falling in love with a worker from the copper refinery next door. She knows her family would never accept him as a suitor, but what's a girl to do? What she doesn't know is that Brandt has his own secrets and hides his identity just as carefully as she. Brandt and Felicity soon discover that deception—no matter how noble its intent—demands a price that even they, with all their resources, may not be able to pay. Can they survive the storm when truth is revealed?

Read the first chapter here: http://www.amberstockton.com/excerpts/ccexcerpt.html



Hearts and Harvest
Barbour Publishing/Heartsong Presents
Book 2 of Michigan historical series (HP #867)
Release date: September 2009
ISBN-10: 1602605769
ISBN-13: 9781602605763

—A destitute young man fights society's mores to win the hand of his privileged sweetheart.—

William's is a true riches to rags story...Once members of Detroit's elite society, the Berringer family lost everything they had in the financial crash of 1893. From a life of influence and privilege, they now find themselves working a potato patch alongside immigrants and other destitute folk on borrowed land. William's resentment toward his current situation—and mostly toward God for allowing it—simmers barely beneath the surface. All it takes is one charitable visit to the fields from a lovely society darling to burst his façade of acceptance. Annabelle Lawson, convicted by her pastor's admonishing words, begins delivering food and water to the workers on her father's donated land. But as she learns the stories of the people who work there, she becomes increasingly drawn to their plight. Especially that of the inscrutable William Berringer. Can Annabelle and William overcome the stigma placed upon his family by a society that once embraced them? Will her parents remember their own meeting or forbid this budding romance altogether?

Read the first chapter here: http://www.amberstockton.com/excerpts/hhexcerpt.html



Patterns and Progress

Barbour Publishing/Heartsong Presents
Book 3 of Michigan historical series (HP# )
Release date: December 2009
ISBN-10: 1602606870
ISBN-13: 9781602606876

—A farmer's daughter would rather turn back the hands of time than accept the fact that advancement in technology could be in God's plan.—

Shannon Delaney was right. Every time she might consider changing her stance on what other people called progress, something bad would happen and she would be proven right again. Take the day Jacob Berringer almost ran her over in that new Model-T, for instance. And he had the nerve to suggest she'd been daydreaming? Or the Titanic. A marvel of modern invention. Look where that got them. Or how about the new tractor her brother insisted they try out. What did he get from that? A broken arm. Why can't things just stay the way they are—the way they should be? Jacob's got his work cut out for him, proving to the stubborn but beautiful Shannon that just because he works for the Henry Ford Company, he isn't evil incarnate. But something about her tells him she's worth the effort, and when Jacob puts his mind to something, he doesn't turn back. But will either of them look to God for direction?

Read the first chapter here: http://www.amberstockton.com/excerpts/pnpexcerpt.html

You can follow Tiffany's blog tour schedule here:

TOUR SCHEDULE

11/30 - 12/4
Dawn Kinzer -
http://dawnkinzer.blogspot.com; http://seriouslywrite.blogspot.com

12/1
ausjenny -
http://ausjenny.blogspot.com
Erica Vetsch - http://onthewritepath.blogspot.com

12/2
Martha Rogers -
http://www.marthasbooks.blogspot.com

12/3
Pat Gonzales -
www.pattishene.com
Abi Buening (book highlight) - http://myheartbelongs2books.blogspot.com

12/4
Abi Buening -
http://myheartbelongs2books.blogspot.com
Stormi Johnson - http://writesthoughts.blogspot.com

12/5
Cara Putman -
http://carasmusings.blogspot.com

12/7
Edit Café (guest blogger) -
http://editcafe.blogspot.com
Cindy Woodsmall (all week) - http://www.cindywoodsmall.com/booklover/category/book-lover/
Rose McCauley -
http://rosemccauley.blogspot.com
Lauralee Bliss - http://blissfulwritingthoughts.blogspot.com

12/8
Jennifer AlLee -
http://jenniferallee.blogspot.com
Leslie Sowell - http://blog.allienewberry.com

12/9
Cathy Bryant -
http://WordVessel.blogspot.com
Eileen Astels - http://eileenastels.blogspot.com

12/10
Patty Wysong -
http://pattywysong.blogspot.com/

12/11
Patty Wysong -
http://pattywysong.blogspot.com/

12/12
Margaret Chind -
http://cherryblossommj.blogspot.com

12/14
Lisa Lickel - (
http://livingourfaithoutloud.blogspot.com)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Some Exciting News! And Goals


I am so happy to announce that I recently signed with
and literary agent par excellence
I'm so excited about this partnership. God did some really cool things to make this come about in His timing, and I'm very thankful.




It's that time again. The start of a new month and time to lay out those goals I want to accomplish before the end of the year.
So, here are my December Goals, some writing related, some business related, some personal/holiday related.
Writing Goals for December:
1. Copy edits on Clara and the Cowboy. These are due the first week of December sometime.
2. Polish up NaNo novel Maggie and the Maverick. I'll let these rest for a week or so, then dive in on rewrites and get it off to my crit partners before Jan. 1st.
3. Crits for awesome crit partners. I've got a novel in my inbox just waiting for my attention. And I can't wait!
4. Launch website by Jan. 1.
Business Goals for December:
1. Preliminary Inventory.
2. End of year bookkeeping, gathering info for corporate taxes.
3. Meetings with Accountant to finalize end of year stuff.
4. Final Inventory.
5. Clean out files to start fresh for 2010.
Personal Goals for December:
1. Get house decorated for Christmas.
2. Christmas shopping. Point and Click. Nuff said.
3. Get Christmas stuff put away.
4. Prepare for the AWESOME NEW YEAR'S DAY EXTRAVAGANZA party that we host every year.
5. Get kids both through the first semester of school and ready for the second.
With only one month left to 2009, how did you do on your goals for the year? Did you meet or exceed them? Did you fall a bit short on something?


Today is the final day of the blog tour for The Bartered Bride. Stop on by Eileen's Blog and check it out.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Friday Five


The end of NaNo is drawing near. So, this week's Friday Five:
Five things I plan to do after NaNo is done.
1. Sleep. I've been sleep-deprived for quite awhile now. I'm going to sleep late on Tuesday, and James and I will plan on having a late start to school.
2. Let the manuscript rest. I would do this anyway, but I have copy edits to finish on a different novel.
3. Go to the wrap-party. Last year our local group went to Buffalo Wild Wings for our wrap party and we had a blast.
4. Thank my family. They have really gone out of their way to make NaNo possible for me this year.
5. Reconnect with some people. Go out to lunch with my SIL, and start work on a project with her. We're going to assemble quilts made from some of my MIL's clothing. I'm really looking forward to spending time with Linda and enjoying some fun memories of Lorraine while we work.
What are you doing once November comes to a close?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving!
To all my blog readers:
Philippians 1:3 "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Achievment Testing


This week my son is working on his yearly standardized testing. As a homeschooler in the state of MN, we are required to administer a nationally norm-referenced battery of tests to our students each year.
My son enjoys these tests for the most part. A nice break from daily lessons. I like them because I read the directions, set the stopwatch going, and he works away.
I'll be using the testing time to write. The stopwatch will aid us both. Most of the tests are between 30 and 40 minutes long, so I will see how much I can get done writing while he sits across the desk from me and works on a spelling, vocabulary, math, social studies, or science test.
Question: How do you fit writing into your life? How can you use something in your life that you already do to help you in writing?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I love words...


November, for NaNo participants, is all about words. We count them like misers, watch word counters like day traders watch tickers, and we stretch ourselves to write more words.
And I have to say, it's good for me. I pound out a rough draft in 30 days, and I push myself. I remember the value of setting word-count goals, of shutting off the internet, and really immersing myself in my story.
I do word-sprints. Not how many words can I write in X number of minutes, but rather, how long does it take me to write 1000 words? I can usually write 1000 words in around 40 minutes. Especially if I'm confident in where the story is going and what I want to accomplish.
So, how fast do you write? Have you ever set what you thought was a rather lofty if not impossible goal with your writing and made it? Have you tried word-sprints?
The blog tour is at:
http://valeriecomer.com/ again today. Stop on by. :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Reading With Purpose


This week I was visiting on the phone with a friend, and we were discussing our reading habits and how they have changed since we've been concentrating on writing.
The truth is, before I was a writer, I read voraciously. I read three to four books a week. The library and the used bookstore were my friends, and I bought books online and in our local bookstores.
Then I started writing with a goal of publication. Much of my writing time was carved out of the time I used to spend reading.
As a result, I haven't been to a used bookstore in months, and when I go to the library, it is for research or to have a quiet place to focus and work.
But I do still read. I feel reading is essential for a writer. But I no longer read just about anything. I have to read with a purpose. I read craft books, non-fiction books for research, and I read selected fiction--fiction I think will be both enjoyable and instructional. I read lots of historical romance, since I write historical romance. I also read authors I admire (regardless of genre) in order to learn from them and make my own writing better.
My book reading has gone down from three-four a week to maybe one per week? But I'm trying to make quality triumph over quantity.
Question: Have your reading tastes changed over the years? What do you like to read, and how many books do you read in a week or in a month?
Blog tour stops today!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

We Have a Winner!


Today, my daughter Heather, pictured here with YA author SUPREME Stephanie Morrill, and wearing her wonderful Giraffe Bucket Hat, drew names from amongst the commentors on Monday's post.
Ten names were thrown into the Giraffe Bucket Hat (there are tiny giraffes embroidered on the hatband) and Heather pulled out the winner of Myra Johnson's AUTUMN RAINS.
And the winner is.....
CJ!
Congratulations, CJ, and I'll pass along your contact information to Myra! I know you're going to enjoy the book, and thank you again, Myra, for giving away a copy of Autumn Rains.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Friday Five


Okay, for years now I've been saying that the Christmas season is starting earlier and earlier each year, but this year I REALLY MEAN IT!
This is the earliest I've ever seen the Christmas season (retail) ramp up. I theorize that retailers fear a slow buying season and are hoping to stretch it out as long as possible to try to end the year in the black.
So, Five Signs Christmas Is Coming. (WICKED EARLY)
1. The Caribou Coffee Shop where I write started playing Christmas music before Halloween.
2. A commercial for "Better than Black Friday Sales." This store is trying to entice readers in with uber-sales that boast being better than the day after Thanksgiving sales.
3. My annual Heifers for the Holidays or Cows for Christmas cattle-log (get it?) showed up. I love this little booklet. I order things like a family of chickens or a goat for a family in Africa, then send a card to someone telling them the gift was given in their name.
4. My kids are working on their Christmas Piano pieces, and my son has been given a rendition of Feliz Navidad, a song that Sticks. In. My. Head.
5. I've already purchased a Christmas gift. Wild.
How about you? Any signs of the season where you are?
Blog tour bulletin:
Nov. 20th I’m visiting with Rachel Fernandes about the joys of historical research over at her blog http://confessionsofaheadhopper.blogspot.com/ And I'm making an encore appearance over at Seekerville, one of my favorite blogs! Stop by today!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Three Ingredient Thursday



This week's Three Ingredient Thursday is a sweet treat idea I got from my friend, CJ. You can visit CJ's blog HERE. And if you're looking for a book trailer or website or hand calligraphed item, she's your girl!

Three Ingredient Raspberry Fudge:

Two bags Hershey's Raspberry Chocolate Chips
2. T. Raspberry syrup (I got mine at TJ Maxx.)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evap. milk)

Mix all together and melt over low heat in a heavy saucepan. Pour into a buttered 9x9" pan and cool in the fridge. When cool, remove the fudge and cut into pieces. It is De-lish!


Question: Where in the world is The Bartered Bride Blog Tour today?

Answer:
Nov. 19th I’m back at JamieD’s blog http://thevarietypages.blogspot.com/ with a guest blog on the themes I like to explore in my writing and the lessons God is teaching me through those themes.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

WYSIWYG




Yesterday, I blogged about Voice. How to discover it and how to hone it.

I think that blogging is also a great way to discover your voice. For me, blogging is a very WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) look into my life. What you read on this blog, well, that's me. A little writing, a little news, a little church, a little of the random thoughts that float through, some humorous things I've run across, books I read, etc. I like to keep it light and encouraging for the most part, but I've shared some of my struggles and heartache here, too.

When I polled folks for what they liked on the blog, most all the folks that answered said they enjoyed the Friday Five. That made me grin, because I think those are my favorite posts, too.

I know some people who are very deliberate about blogging to their brand. Camy Tang likes to keep things very "Loud Asian Chick Who Writes Loud Asian Lit," All her blog posts are in that vein. Brandilyn Collins likes to keep things a little darker and suspensy (if that's a word), with industry news thrown in.

When I started blogging, I had no idea what I was doing. Didn't even know how to post a picture in my blog. (If you scroll back to those early days, you'll see how excited I was when I figured it out.) I didn't have a voice or a brand or a clue where I was going with it. As I've continued to blog, however, I realized that in the great blogosphere, rather than give out wise instruction on writing or parenting or history or how to live under a mop of curly hair (all of which I have experience with) I really just wanted to connect with people, let them get to know me and get to know them through their comments and visiting their blogs.


So, the question today is: How do you decide what to blog? Do you feel like you're very WYSIWYG? Do you have a brand or voice you're trying to perfect through your blog?


Today on the blog tour:

Nov. 18th Tiffany Stockton, fellow Heartsong Author, fan fiction writer, and lover of historical things, is interviewing me today at A Fiction Filled Life Blog, found at http://amberstockton.blogspot.com/ . Lynda Schab, lit writer extraordinaire, has an interview at http://on-the-write-track.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Voice


As writers we hear a lot about Voice. And when we're first starting out, we angst about our authorial voice. How can I find my voice? Will I know it when I see it? It's one of those nebulous things like pace or brand that scares the daylights out of a new author because we're told we need to master it and be able to identify it, but it eludes us. There's no checklist for voice. No steps to take to master it.
So what is a writer to do?
The simple answer? Write.

That's it. Just write.
You can't help but find your voice when you write. You have a unique story to tell in your own way. Voice is comprised of vocabulary, reading influences, genre you're writing in, syntax, emotion, lots of things you can't quantify but that melded together make your voice yours alone.
I didn't realize I had a writing voice until about my fifth novel. (all unpublished so far) I think before that, I was writing to emulate authors I admired. I was doing a novel in a paint-by-number style. Even after my fifth novel, I didn't realize I had an author voice until my critique partner, Georgiana, pointed it out to me. I had entered a blind-judged writing contest on a blog where she happened to be a judge. (She didn't know I'd entered the contest, and I didn't know she was a judge.) And when she got to my entry she knew it was my writing. Even though the story was a humorous personal experience story and not anything like the historical romances I write, she could pick out right away that the article sounded like me.
Since then, I've sent a couple of my early works to Georgiana and she's sent them back saying, "This doesn't sound like you. Not the you I've come to know."
Because I'll be resurrecting two of my early works, I've decided I can't just polish them up. I'm going to need to rewrite them from scratch, because they need to be written in my voice. My new, emerging, getting stronger the more I use it voice.
So, have you found your voice yet? What are you doing to develop it? Are you writing? Are you reading good fiction, in your genre and out of it? Has anyone ever told you they recognize your writing voice?
BLOG TOUR UPDATE:
Nov. 17th It’s guest blog day! The topic of discussion today over at Cindy Wilson’s blog http://cindyrwilson.blogspot.com/ is about overcoming obstacles in the writing journey. And at JamieD’s place http://thevarietypages.blogspot.com/ you can read the first chapter of The Bartered Bride.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Guest Blogger Myra Johnson

Today it is my distinct pleasure to have fellow Heartsong author Myra Johnson guest blogging today. I'm so excited that our debut Heartsongs came out together. So, without further ado, here's Myra to tell us about the thrilling roller-coaster of the post-contract writing life. AND...Myra's graciously giving away a copy of Autumn Rains to one lucky commentor. So enjoy the guest blog, the interview, and learn a little about this great author and fun book, and be sure to leave a comment to be entered in the drawing.

The Writing Life: Glitz? Glamour? Think again!

First let me say what a joy it is to share my Heartsong Presents debut with Erica! I remember the excitement at the 2008 ACFW conference when Erica’s name was announced as a recipient of one of Barbour’s new-author contracts. Little did I know that only a few weeks later, JoAnne Simmons would also be sending me a contract!

When I look back at how much my life has changed over the past year, I sometimes have to pinch myself to believe it’s real. A year ago last August I was still hoping and praying for even a glimmer of editorial encouragement. Today I have not one but four book contracts in my filing cabinet, and two of the books are already on the shelves!

So what’s different? The amount of time I spend at my computer hasn’t changed much, but the way I spend that time certainly has! In my pre-publication life I usually focused on one project at a time, writing, rewriting, revising, and editing until I deemed the manuscript ready for submission.

As a contracted author my life has turned into one big juggling act. Two books coming out so close together (my debut novel from Abingdon Press, then my first Heartsong Presents novel) complicated things even more. Here’s a partial list of the various phases each book may go through in one form or another on the way to publication:

Editor approves proposal/synopsis
Complete the manuscript (if unfinished)
Revision letter and first round of edits (sometimes called the macro edit or content edit)
Brainstorm alternate titles
Revisions, round 2 (the micro edit or copyedit)
Fill out cover art questionnaire
Prepare front and back matter (dedication, acknowledgements, discussion questions)
Approve cover art
Review galley proofs for last-minute corrections

(Erica, did I forget anything???) Erica here: I think you got them all. :)

Then there’s the whole marketing side. Keeping my Website updated. Participating in blog tours. Trying to post something witty or relevant on my own blog semi-regularly. Maintaining a “published author” presence on Facebook and Twitter. Visiting with bookstore managers. Scheduling speaking engagements and book signings.

If writers are doing all those things and writing, obviously we have to say no to many other demands on our time. Like keeping up with the housework, volunteering on church committees, heading up the neighborhood watch organization. At least now, with two published books in my hand, I have some credibility when I get one of those “Can you please help with (fill in the blank)” calls and I have to say, “No, sorry, I’m under deadline.”

But even with all the busyness and craziness of the published life, I wouldn’t have missed this adventure for anything! I am living my dream and loving (almost) every moment of it. My point today is mainly to dull the sheen of glamour about life as a published author. The truth is, it’s work. So you’d better really love the writing part, because you’ll need every bit of that love to sustain you through the rest.


Erica here again. I read and loved Autumn Rains! One character really jumped out at me and I couldn't resist interviewing him to see what made him tick. So, here's my brief interview with Pastor Henke of Autumn Rains.



1. Pastor Henke, could you tell us a little about yourself and your ministry at the Zion Community Church.

We are a small congregation here in Aileen, Missouri. If you know where Villa Ridge is located, Aileen is not far from there. Many of our residents commute to jobs in the St. Louis area, but we treasure our small-town ambiance—such a pleasant reminder of my happy childhood in Shropshire, England.

In the early 1960s, I met and fell outrageously in love with a charming American woman touring the English countryside. I emigrated to the States to marry her, completed my seminary education, and then began my parish ministry at a large congregation near Philadelphia. My wife and I, both country folk at heart, found city life entirely too hectic, however, so when the opportunity came to serve at Zion Community Church in Aileen, we welcomed the change.

Sadly, my dear wife passed on to her heavenly reward many years ago, and I miss her terribly. In her stead, the Lord has blessed me with the love and support of my faithful parishioners, for whom I am ever grateful.


2. Your car. Tell us about your car and how you came to love muscle cars.

Ah, my car. That question always comes up. Why is it you folks have such a hard time accepting the idea of an elderly pastor tooling around in a red Mustang convertible? If I must provide a suitable explanation, let it suffice that while I may be a man of the cloth, I am . . . well, I am a man, and what male do you know who does not enjoy the roar of a racing engine, the feel of power and speed at his beck and call, the sleekness of a sports car chassis burnished to shimmering perfection?

And frankly, would you have found me nearly as interesting had I driven a Chevrolet Impala or Ford Focus?

3. When you first met Healy, what reservations did you have about sending Healy to the Paige family? What made you trust him given his past?

I learned long ago that one should never judge anyone by appearances alone, and Healy was no exception. It was clear to me from the moment the young man walked into my office that he had a story to tell. To the truly discerning eye, it is impossible to manufacture humility and sincerity, both of which Healy had in abundance.

However, respecting Valerie and the Paiges as I do, I owed them nothing less than full assurance that it would be completely safe, and even beneficial, to bring Healy into their home. Therefore I made a thorough check of Healy’s background and references—and naturally was not the least bit surprised by the glowing reports I received. Healy Ferguson is truly a man of honor and integrity.


4. How have your parishioners reacted to Healy and Valerie?

With utter joy! Valerie has long held a special place in all our hearts, and it was such a tragedy . . . ah, well, for the sake of those who don’t yet know her story, I won’t go into detail here.
But we all agree that Healy’s arrival in Aileen was God’s doing. The people of Zion welcomed him with open arms, and of course it was a happy, happy occasion when Healy and Valerie stood before family and friends in our little church to pledge their troth. They are indeed a blessing to each.
Thank you, so much, Pastor Henke. If I'm ever in Aileen, I'll be sure to pop into Zion Community Church. :)

About Myra: Myra Johnson’s roots go deep into Texas soil, but she’s proud to be a new Oklahoman. Empty-nesters now, she and her husband share their home in Broken Arrow with two loveable dogs and a snobby parakeet. Her debut novel, One Imperfect Christmas, released in September 2009 from Abingdon Press.
She also writes for Barbour Publishing’s Heartsong Presents line. Autumn Rains, winner of the 2005 RWA Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Romance Manuscript, releases October 2009, soon to be followed by Romance by the Book and Where the Dogwoods Bloom. Myra writes full-time and is active in her church as well as local and national writers groups. Myra and her husband have been married since 1972. The Johnsons have two married daughters and five grandchildren.

About Autumn Rains: Healy Ferguson knows all about prisons, both the physical one he’s been released from and the emotional one he keeps himself trapped in. He knows paying dues to society doesn’t always mean you’ve paid dues to yourself, and often the price you exact on yourself far exceeds the crime.
Valerie Bishop is caught in the emotional prison of post-traumatic stress disorder, unable to venture more than a few feet out her back door. Shadowy moments from a night she can’t fully remember bombard her without warning, keeping her trapped between the painful past and a future that seems hopeless.
But God promises to repay the years that have been lost; for those who trust in Him, He promises refreshing, life-giving rain. Will Val and Healy trust to see God’s perfect plan, or will they choose the chains that hold them back?
Myra sent me a copy of the book, and I LOVED it! I think you will, too!
Today's blog tour stop for The Bartered Bride is over at Myra's blog http://myra.typepad.com/
Drop on by and learn more about Myra and see what she cooked up for The Bartered Bride Blog tour.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Friday Five





I'm currently working on attaining the NaNo challenge this month. I got a little behind last weekend when I stopped writing on my newest novel to do edits on one in the publishing pipeline.
There are a lot of things I love about NaNo, the challenge, the competition, the camraderie, how many fun things begin with the letter "C"...
I've often wondered how it would be to write a novel in November that was just purely for fun, to be able to incorporate all the ridiculous prompts and story ideas that are thrown about on the NaNo forums.
In perusing the forums, I found Five Prompts That Cracked Me Up & Made Me Wish I Could Include Them In A Novel. (None of which would fly with my editor, I'm sure.)
1. Have the "Travelling Shovel of Death" visit your novel and bump someone off.
2. Have your characters engage in the age old debate: Pirates or Ninjas?
3. Have your entire cast of characters (good guys and bad guys) band together to steal a shark.
4. Make one of your characters a college professor, who also happens to be a duck.
5. Make your main character do the macarena in your next chapter, as well as one supporting character(because it's just more fun with two people!)
Honorable mentions:
Have one character who, every time he meets someone, comments on how nice their hair smells and have him be able to pick out the brand of shampoo used by that person.
Have one character who always speaks like a pirate, a ninja, Ye Olde English, or some other fancy fonted speech. :)
Give your hero a super power he is just learning how to control and have him lose control of that super power in a very public place. (I imagined this looking something like: My hero can fly, but on his first attempt, he zings around the room banging into walls, light fixtures and windows like a balloon with an untied end...maybe during a party or during High School Assembly...)
So, which one of these would you try, and do you have any others that might sound good?
Today's stop on the blog tour is at:
And have a wonderful weekend!