Friday, February 27, 2009

The Friday Five + 95!

I found this on Carla Stewart's Blog and thought I'd give it a whirl.

The BBC believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (X)
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien (X)
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte ( )
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling ( )
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (X)
6 The Bible - (x)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte ()
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell ()
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman ( )
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens ()
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott (x)
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy ( )
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller ( )
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare ( )
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier ( X )
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien (X )
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk ( )
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger( )
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger ( )
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot ( )
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell ( X )
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald ()
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens ( )
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy ( )
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams ( )
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh ( )
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky ( )
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck ()
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll ( X )
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame ( X)
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy ( )
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens ( X )
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis ()
34 Emma - Jane Austen ( )
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen ( )
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (x)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini - ( )
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres ( )
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden ()
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne (x)
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell ( X )4
2 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown ( )
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez ( )
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving ()
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins ()
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery (X )
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy ( )
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood ( )
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding (x)
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan ( )
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel ( )
52 Dune - Frank Herbert ( )
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons ()
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen ( )
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth ( )
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon ( )
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens ( )
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley ( )
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon ( )
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez ( )
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck ( )
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov ( )
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt ( )
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold ( X)
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas (X)
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac ( )
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy ( )
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding ()
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie ()
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville ( )
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens (X )
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker (X )
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett (X)
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson ( )
75 Ulysses - James Joyce ( )
76 The Inferno - Dante ( )
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome ( )
78 Germinal - Emile Zola ( )
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray ( )
80 Possession - AS Byatt ( )
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (x)
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell ( )
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker ( )
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro ( )
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert ( )
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry ( )
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White ( X )
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom ( )
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ( X )
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton ( )
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad ( )
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery ( )
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks ( )
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams ( )
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole ( )
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute ( )
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas ( X)
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare ( X )
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl (X )
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo ( )

Hmmm...I've got 27, which is more than the BBC says is average, but way behind what it probably should be. Though this list doesn't include some classic's I'd put on it. What about MacBeth, or Giant by Edna Ferber, or The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammet, or Odds Against by Dick Francis? Classics that I've read.

How about you? How many have you read from this list, and is there a classic you think is missing?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Guest Blogger Mary Connealy

A big thank you to Mary Connealy for guest blogging at OTWP today. You Rock, Mary!
If I knew then what I know now?

I am really an odd duck. I actually went to college and majored in, “Stop being so weird” and it came out … well… better, not great, but better.
The world famous SBSW degree, it’s under a Bachelor of Science. I was magna cum laude.
So, I learned to come out and play a little better in college. I was a journalism major, lots of writing, but I got sucked into radio and television, plenty of humiliation to go around there. But through all that I quit being quite such a troubled loner, like I was in high school. And it’s not even that I was such a troubled loner outwardly, but inside, where I really lived, all my reflexes are to just withdraw.

I once stepped into my church parlor during the coffee and fellowship time and didn’t see a seat by my mother (okay, I will suck my thumb and call her mommy for the remainder of this article) and I walked back out. I just had the impulse, this knee jerk reaction to throwing myself on the mercy of strangers, and it wasn’t even a choice, I found myself in the bathroom, semi-panicked, while I gave myself a pep talk. “Get back in there. This is as much your church as anyone’s. Stop being a twit.”
I also have a horror of going to high school sporting events. I just think, “Where’ll I sit?” “What if I walk up those long, long, high, endless bleachers only to find no seats or to sit by someone and have them wave me off.”
“You can’t sit here. This seat is saved…for someone who isn’t a major embarrassment.”
Anyway, no one actually has ever said that, but I am blessed with a vivid imagination. So I have no problem believing it could happen.

I had a point…let me think back….

Oh, yeah, if I knew then…well, I seemed to get my book published as slow as humanly possible. I know there are people who have been writing longer…but I consider myself to be a contender for the slowest possible march toward being on a bookstore shelf.
And I think the reason for that was that I didn’t get the community aspect of writing.
I heard a few people say, “It’s all who you know.” But what I didn’t figure out was how easy it was to get to know someone.
I didn’t even know RWA existed for the first two years I was writing. Then I found a chapter in Omaha…an hour and a half drive away and went a few times, but it wasn’t easy, and YIKES, walk into a room full of strangers. Just kill me now.

Then about three years after that I discovered ACFW. ACFW was in an RWA magazine. And it took me two years after that to work up the nerve to go to a conference, and I had some critique partners through ACFW that practically DRAGGED me there. And only after I finalled with two books did I seriously consider it. Erica here: for clarity's sake, Finalled in the ACFW's Genesis Contest for Unpublished Writers.

I joined CAN. I met Erica through CAN, the Christian authors network, right Erica? Erica here: Yup, it was my first ever booksigning too...I wondered what one did when one attended a book signing of famous authors...would anyone talk to me? You came to a CAN book signing and we had the same agent. And she was so nice to me. It was my first book signing ever and real authors were there like Jill Nelson and Susan May Warren and Judy Baer. Erica talked to me when no one else would and patted me on the head and gave me a sucker to keep me quiet while the real authors talked.

I just made every choice as slowly and painfully as humanly possible.

So, the thing I know now, that I wish I’d known earlier was to get connected. If it’s really ‘who you know’ then for heaven’s sake get to know someone.
Think of it as stepping out in faith.
Casting your bread upon the waters.
Whom shall I fear.
Or-in less Biblical terms—think of it as getting over yourself.
Getting a life.
Hunt up a backbone and use it.
However you want to describe it, come on out from behind that keyboard…and get connected.
Mary Connealy PhD in SBSW
Super big thanks to Mary for guest-blogging. Don't forget to run over to or your local bookseller and get a copy of Gingham Mountain...and the other Lassoed in Texas books too!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Gingham Mountain by Mary Connealy!

There are very few books that I wait for anxiously. The new Dick Francis, the new Anne Perry Inspector Monk, and the new Mary Connealy.

I waited what seemed FOREVER for Gingham Mountain, book three in the Lassoed in Texas series to to arrive. I think the hardest time to wait was the week between ordering the book and when it arrived in my mailbox.

Let me tell you, I wasn't disappointed when the book finally arrived and I could dive into it.

I LOVE Hannah and Grant. I love Grant so much that I was afraid that Hannah wouldn't measure up to him...but she did! They are perfect for each other. There is a huge understanding gap between them, male vs female, that any person can connect with. There are children in need, hearts on the line, danger, not only to their physical safety, but to their reputations, their long-held views of themselves and of God. When characters have to re-evaluate their dearest beliefs, when truth and pre-conceptions collide, you have great fiction. I can't recommend this book or this series highly enough.

ABOUT THE BOOK: All aboard for a delightful, suspense-filled romance, where a Texan is torn between his attraction to a meddlesome schoolmarm and the charms of a designing dressmaker. When Hannah Cartwright meets Grant, she's determined to keep him from committing her orphans to hard labor on his ranch. How far will she go to ensure their welfare? Grant is determined to provide a home for the two kids brought in by the orphan train. Can he keep his ragtag family together while steering clear of love and marriage?
Hannah Cartwright is determined to keep Grant from committing two orphans to hard labor on his ranch. How far will she go to ensure their welfare? Grant is inexplicably drawn to Hannah. Will he win her love or be caught in the clutches of a scheming seamstress?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Connealy is one of the most genuine, most talented, and dearest people I know. She's funny, compassionate, sensitive, and always ready to help a girl (me) with answers to questions. (Okay, I admit it, I pester her from time to time.) Mary lives with her farmer husband in Nebraska, she is the mother of four wonderful grown daughters, and this year they brought a beautiful grandbaby into the Connealy family. (Congrats, Mary!)
Tomorrow, Mary will be guest blogging here at OTWP, and you won't want to miss it.

You can purchase Gingham Mountain HERE.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Yesterday saw good progress on the revisions of The Bartered Bride. I'm about 90% finished with the first comb-through.
A few things have come to mind during this process.
Observation 1: I really like these characters and this storyline.
Observation 2: It is fun, interesting, stretching, to see how I can iron out little foibles and plot threads that are a little bumpy and still keep the story intact.
Observation 3: Sometimes people on their cell phones do not realize how loudly they are talking, esp. the man who sat behind me at Caribou Coffee today and held a mini-business meeting on his phone. I learned way too much of his business while trying to mind my own.
Observation 4: There comes a time when you have to trust your research. I find myself double and triple checking times, logistics, terms, etc. So far, so good.
Observation 5: Sometimes your terminology is right, your research is right, etc. but if it confused a reader, that makes it wrong.
Just some things I'm learning along the way. How about you? Learned or observed anything new lately?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Revision Process

This weekend I began the revision process on The Bartered Bride. As of this morning, I'm about halfway through them the first time.

I read through all the revisions first thing, then let them sit for a couple days, mulling things over in my mind, working up a strategy for dealing with them chronologically. Some are very easy, delete a word here or there, replace with something that clarifies, or something more suitable to the time period. Some require more thought. More motivation for this action, give a better feel for the time period in this description, etc.

But I'm really enjoying the revision process. I know the story will be better for the changes. It also gives me a better idea how to work on book two in this series so the editors hopefully won't have as much work to do on the next one.

This week also marks the end of Heather's classroom instruction at Driver's Ed. It's time to move to the road instruction. While this makes me a wee bit anxious, I know she'll be a good driver, taking the responsibility seriously.

What I will miss is my six hours of coffee shop time each week. Wonder if I can squeeze some in anyway?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Friday Five

This week's Friday Five is: My five favorite beverages.

1. Diet Coke - Caffeine Free
2. Diet Coke - with Lime
3. Orange Juice (this one is a toughy, since it's loaded with sugars and hard on diabetics. But I've found some Tropicana Light that has half the sugar, so I can have a half a glass from time to time.)
4. Earl Grey Tea (Not usually a hot beverage drinker, but I've fallen in love with Earl Grey.)
5. Water. Love the ice water. Don't usually spring for the bottled water, so ice water from the fridge works for me.

An Award and Revisions

First of all, Thank you to CJ at The Compost Heap for awarding me the Kreativ Blogger Award.

I'm passing the award to:

Jess Ferguson (whose blog posts always make me THINK)

You girls rock, are creative bloggers, and good friends. I am truly blessed.

In other news:

My very first editor revision letter arrived yesterday with revisions for The Bartered Bride. I don't know what I was expecting, but what I got was wonderful.

But first, back up the truck. I want to give huge props to Colleen Coble (and I emailed her yesterday about this--and she replied! I felt honored and rewarded.) Several times on the ACFW loop the questions of editor/author relationship and revisions have come up. Each time, Colleen has said that the receipt of editor revision letters makes her dance around the room with joy. She realizes that the relationship with her editor is a partnership with a goal of turning out the best book possible. The revisions aren't an attack of her work, but the learned and skillful polishing of a professional that knows how to turn out a good product. She taught me, well in advance of it actually happening, how to respond to editor revisions.

With that in mind, I opened my revision documents, and was thrilled at the suggestions. (Though a couple made me wince with a "How did I miss that?" metaphorical slap to my forehead.) Yay to JoAnne Simmons and Rachel Overton for being so nice in their edits.

And yay to Georgiana Daniels and Kaye Dacus, who read and edited this manuscript first. I know there'd be a lot more work to do if you hadn't been so thorough in critiques.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Outlaw Marshal by Al and Joanna Lacy

John “The Stranger” Brockman is back by popular demand!

For Chief U.S. Marshal John Brockman, becoming a friend to former outlaw Whip Langford is easy.

Saving his life is more complicated.

From the Back Cover:

With John Brockman encouraging him to accept salvation, former outlaw Whipley Langfor determines to go straight. He won't turn his life over to Christ, but he won't go back to a life of robbing banks and trains either.

It's not long before Whip is tracking old aquaintances and acting as a lawman without actually being one. Whip intercepts a train robbery and catches two of the thieves, but the two who escape frame him for murder.

John must ride hard and fast to save his friend from the noose, because it's not only Jon Brockman who has grown fond of Whip. Beautifu widow Annabeth Cooper's heart is also at stake.

Readers who are familiar with the Journeys of the Stranger and Angel of Mercy series reunite with well-loved characters John and Breanna Brockman. Western history buffs will enjoy a wholesome, fast-paced story where the Gospel is presented clearly. Christian readers will learn how to lean on the Lord in times of trial and non-Christians will have the opportunity to make Christ their Savior.

About The Authors:
Al Lacy is an evangelist and author of more than one hundred historical and western novels, including the Journeys of the Stranger, Angel of Mercy, and Mail Order Bride series, with more than three million books in print. JoAnna Lacy, Al’s wife and longtime collaborator, is a retired nurse. The Lacys have been married over forty years and live in the Colorado Rockies.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Tuesday Muse

The question of the day is:

How do you keep all your stories from sounding the same, while at the same time staying true to your voice, your 'brand', your style?

I'm wrestling with a couple plot lines for a new WIP, and I'm seeing similar themes and threads occuring that have shown up in previous works. I don't want all my books to be the same.

Time to think outside the box (what a cliche) and come up with something different.

Where do you find your plot inspiration? How do you make your stories sound different from each other?

Monday, February 16, 2009


Sometimes you just need to see that you're making progress, don't you? These are my Jarrod-Jeans. You know, the guy from Subway? I decided I would keep these jeans when I started losing weight as a reminder of where I've been and where I'm going.

Saturday I went shopping with my daughter, and for the first time since well before she was born, I tried on jeans in the regular women's clothing section, not the plus-sized section. And what do you know? Not only did fit into the largest regular size, I fit into the next smallest size! WOOHOO! I've dropped more than five sizes!
I keep the jeans for the same reason I like the word counter for my current WIP. Progress, something you can see and verify and claim. Something to encourage, to spur you on, and something that helps you celebrate.
Thanks to Heather for shopping with me and for taking the pictures. And thanks to my whole family for their constant encouragement and their unwavering certainty that I can do this.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

My Book Therapy

My Book Therapy
The Therapists are: Susan May Warren, Rachel Hauck and Sarah Sumpolec

I'm so happy to introduce to you the ladies of My Book Therapy. These experienced authors have a passion to help others reach their writing potential, whether it is through teaching seminars at writer's conferences or running their editing services or writing a how-to book for aspiring authors. The girls at have written From the Inside…Out: Discover, Create and Publish the Novel in You!

Check out this book trailer:

About the Book:

Have you always wanted to write a novel, but didn’t know where to start? This book is for you. With proven techniques, easy to understand explanations and practical steps, From The Inside...Out will teach you how a story is structured then take you through the process of creating and marketing your novel. Topics include: Character-driven plotting, How to HOOK your reader, The elements and flow of SCENES, How to build STORYWORLD, Secrets to Sizzling Dialogue, Proven Self-Editing techniques, Synopsis and Query letter writing, How to manage your writing career ...and everything in between!

An exerpt from the book:

Four Keys to a Writer's Life

As you prep for our journey, I want you to start exercising! We're going to get in shape! Work off the dust of our minds and tighten the flab of our daily schedules so we can utilize the writing time we have in our days.

Writing is much like every other discipline. It takes commitment. After all, as much as we'd like it to happen, those books don't just download from our brains automatically! It takes nurturing. Did you know that your brain has a well of words for each day, and you need to replenish those words after you use them? It takes time (something we're going to figure out how to get!), and it takes a game plan.

Let's start with Commitment. The fact is, writing will take you away from your family, your health club, your church, your social groups, your online gaming, your Sudoku, your television…you get the drift. There are costs.

The keys to keeping those costs in line are:

1. Priorities

2. Balance

3. Perspective

Writing should ALWAYS come after spending time with God (that's also the nurturing part!) and rarely above family and church, but sometimes it does come before workouts and social life. My friend Judy Baer (writing coach, extraordinaire) shared this illustration with me once: “Stand on one foot and balance. You can’t stand perfectly still, but rather, you have lean to different sides to keep your balance.”

Writing and life should be like this -- different sides require attention in different waves. If you are to invest in writing, then know that you might have to give up other things. Don’t worry—it’s not forever!. But for a while. If you were training for the Olympics, you'd have a training schedule, and it would ramp up when you had specific events to meet. Take a look at your life and see if you can carve out one hour per day, or three per week to invest in writing. Then, put that on your calendar in RED. It's an appointment. Be there.

Nurturing: Your brain needs a steady supply of new words, spiritual nourishment, research facts, and good writing to keep it fresh and ready to put prose on the page.

Spiritual Nourishment: Writing is largely a spiritual event. You are connecting on a thematic level with your reader, and that happens in the spiritual realm. Sure, we access many of these metaphors through emotion, but looking past feelings to their deeper meaning and sources helps broaden your understanding of your book, your character’s journey, and most importantly WHY you are spending time writing this book. Make a habit of spending time soaking in God's Word, or a devotional book like Streams in the Desert, or whatever form of spiritual food you need for your diet. I like to read theology books, but sometimes a great devotional book puts my spirit into the right frame to see beyond myself, to tap into the bigger picture and inspires me to write.

Research: make it your goal to keep up with the world. Technology. Medicine. Trends. Don't be afraid to use the Discovery channel for interesting plot ideas! Know what’s happening in culture and politics. Read biographies, current, and past – you’ll be inspired with new story ideas. Subscribe to Reader’s Digest and National Geographic. (At least TiVo the channel!) To communicate to our world, you need to understand it.

Read Up: Fill your mind with great writing. Start your writing time reading the Psalms, or perhaps a book of poetry. Read the classics, yes, but also make it your goal to read in your genre! Most importantly, find authors that are better than you and soak in their words, analyzing why they are fabulous. Feeding your mind and your soul will give you the materials you can draw from as you create.

Time: This is one of the hardest areas for new writers. Most of us don’t have hours in the day to wait for the muse to find us. We have thirty minutes after supper, or perhaps three hours on a Saturday morning.

Here's a few strategies for maximizing that time:

1. Plan ahead for your writing time and get your family to help you protect it. I have a sign on my door that reads, “Cry Me a River.” In short…they’d better have a good reason to come through that door when it’s closed (only if there’s blood or fire is the general rule). When my children were young, I always had an open door policy. However, I asked them to respect my time, just like I respected theirs. That meant that I spent time with them first – reading, helping with homework, fixing dinner – whatever they needed. I also involved them in the writing process. If they allowed me to finish a chapter, we’d celebrate with something fun (yes, there was a lot of ice cream in those early days). And I promised that when my first book got published, I’d take them to Disney World. I kept that promise. Enlisting your family’s help will free you from guilt AND give them an opportunity to share in your victories as you write. Make them your partners.

2. Keep a notebook of ideas that will invariably come to you as you wash dishes, walk the dog, clean the bathroom, drive to work, sit in a boring meeting, or even in the middle of the night. Sometimes you can't dash to your computer to put in that perfect sentence--so put it in your notebook. You'll have a collection of words and sentences to jumpstart your creativity when you sit down to write.

3. Don't clean up your writing space mid-project (okay, I know, that sounds like a messy person's excuse but...) if you simply walk away from your computer after you finish a scene, you'll be able to slip right back into it when you come back. I always suggest having a special room to write in so you can close the door, even if it's a section of your bedroom--something I did for years. I had a little garage-sale chair with a pile of books on the opposite side of the bed--my little alcove. But, if you can't find a separate space, invest in a little basket to throw all your writing gear in (research books, etc), and then set it somewhere where it won't be“reorganized” (as my husband calls it!). Keeping your research handy helps you maximize your time when you sit down and dive back into your story.

Finally, you need a Game Plan, and I'm not talking plotting versus seat-of-the-pants writing here--I'm talking about a little journal that you keep AFTER your writing session. Write down any thoughts you have for the next chapter, as well as your goal for the next writing session. Maybe you want to go back and revise the previous chapter or fix certain words. Maybe you need more research. Maybe you just want to plow ahead, but have notes for revisions.

Keeping a journal of your writing time helps you focus on each writing session without having to ask, "Now, where was I?" This is especially true if a week or more has gone by in between writing sessions.

Now, for all of you who have little children and think, "Hey, I don't even have time to wash my hair—I can't possibly find time to write,” my words to you are, well, let's see, greasy hair versus seeing your dreams come true. You can wash your hair when your kids go to school. No, I'm not that bad! I like clean hair, but I well remember the days when I typed with my children on my lap, or stayed up late with my laptop while my husband snoozed beside me.

He sure woke up when I got that first contract.


You have two chances to win!

Want to win a copy of From the Inside…Out: Discover, Create and Publish the Novel in You for your very own? Leave a comment here and tell us what kind of novel you have in YOU.


Do you already have your novel down on the page? Does it need a little THERAPY? Enter to win 10% off a Book Therapy Session (that’s a savings of $30+) by leaving a comment here telling us a brief synopsis of your story!

All winners will be chosen at random. Contest ends 2/28 and the winners will be announced on March 2nd! You can win a copy of this book or receive a discount on writing therapy lessons by visiting this site and leaving a comment.

You may follow the Love To Write blog tour blog tour where you can find additional information and book trailers!

I've had the opportunity to sit in on several workshops taught by Susan May Warren, and one last year taught by Rachel Hauck, that were so informative, so craft-molding, hands on, helpful. Click on the link and enter to win either this book or a discount on a therapy session for your fiction. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Friday Five + Twenty!

Book: Gingham Mountain by Mary Connealy--YAY!
Song: Life's A Dance by John Michael Montgomery

This little Meme was zinging around Facebook a week or so ago, and after being tagged a few times, I finally succumbed and filled it out. Now it will do double duty for me as a Friday Five. :)

1. I'm from Kansas.
2. I have been married to Peter for 19 years.
3. I have the two best kids on the planet.
4. I write historical romances.
5. I don't like s'mores.
6. I will not eat anything that lived under water. Nothing from the SEA! Nothing from the LAKE! Nothing from the RIVER!
7. I've lost sixty pounds in the last eight months.
8. I listen to country music.
9. My best friend and I have only met in person one time.
10. I have a party at my house on New Year's Day. Food, Football, and Fun Fellowship.
11. I sing alto.
12. I can tie a cherry stem into a knot in my hands.
13. I post a list kinda like this called The Friday Five every week on my blog. (Hee Hee)
14. I am addicted to history museums.
15. I could stare at Lake Superior for hours.
16. I'm a middle child.
17. I just renewed my driver's license. Why do I get so nervous when they do the eye test?
18. I test my blood sugar twice a week.
19. I homeschool my kids.
20. I'm the company bookkeeper for Vetsch Hardwoods, Inc.
21. My favorite color is red.
22. I have naturally curly hair.
23. I love my church.
24. I was a high school history teacher.
25. I'm an alum of Calvary Bible College.
So there you go, more than you wanted to know about me. :)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Something Interesting - to me anyway

Book: Executive Orders by Tom Clancy
Song: Won't You Be My Neighbor by Mr. Rogers.

I just found out today that I share a birthday with two of my childhood best friends. That's right, Big Bird and Mr. Fred Rogers.

Here's a list of some celebrities who also share my birthday.

Christy Carlson Romano (1984)
Big Bird (Sesame Street)
Chester Bennington (1976)
David Thewlis (1963)
Holly Hunter (1958)
Spike Lee (1957)
William Hurt (1950)
Pat Riley (1945)
Lois Lowry (1937)
Hal Linden (1931)
Fred 'Mr.' Rogers (1928)
Carl Reiner (1922)
Ozzie Nelson (1906)
B.F. Skinner (1904)

My dad sent this link to me today, and it's kind of fun. Though I was disturbed to learn I could boil more than 4.5 oz of water with the candles that will be on my next birthday cake.

Birthday Calculator

Check out the Birthday Calculator, then come back and tell me who shares your birthday.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wednesday Weigh In

YIKES forgot to put in the book and the song...and yesterday too, though that song would have been pretty obvious.

Book: Enquiry by Dick Francis
Song: Fearless by Taylor Swift

Haven't done a Wednesday Weigh In for awhile, mostly due to the fact that I've gained and lost the same few pounds (aka been stuck on a plateau) for the past three months or so?

What to do, what to do...

I've been so pleased with my progress up to this plateau, that part of me was willing to rest on my still curvy laurels and just be happy. After all, 60 pounds in 8 months is nothing to sneeze at.

But, I want more. I need more.

So, I set a goal. Last week I decided I wanted to lose 10 pounds by my birthday next month. 10 pounds in six weeks. Doable, right? Daunting in light of the plateau I've been on.

But, I always do better when I have a goal to shoot at, and I've just been letting myself drift the past few weeks, so it was time to shape up. Literally.

Crank up the speed on the treadmill, change things up with riding the exercise bike and try some strength exercises. Cut back on the little things I've added to my diet that I don't really need. (Might explain the plateau, right?)

Result? Down two pounds this week. Yay! So now I have 8 lbs to lose in five weeks.

I would love to hit a major milestone at the same time I hit a major milestone. :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Winter in the North

A little Minnesota Humor. Try this link and turn up the speakers.

Roy Holdren

Thanks to Mike and Linda for introducing me to this fellow's parodies.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Bridge to Nowhere

Book: The Shifting Tide by Anne Perry
Song: Something to be Proud Of by Montgomery Gentry

This last week I got crits back from my crit girls on Engineered Engagement. And you know what? They don't let me get away with ANYTHING!

A major logic flaw was uncovered. How did he KNOW she had the plans? How did he KNOW she was hiding her identity? Hmmm...

Thanks to the crit girls, I realized I needed to add an entire scene, a plausible scene, to explain how the villain knew the stuff he knew later in the book.

But, alas, I was up against the word count...AGAIN! Heartsong Presents Romance has a tight word count of no more than 50K words. I had 49, 884. Can't write an entire scene in only 116 words. Something would have to go.

Because I've been reading Scene & Structure by Jack M. Bickham (Highly recommend) I decided to have a look at the individual scenes in Engineered Engagement to see which ones were vital to the story, and which one I could cut. I had a gut feeling which one was going to have to go, but figured I'd make sure.

I was right. There was one scene, smack in the middle of the story, that was a bridge to nowhere. It neither advanced the plot, nor gave the reader any new information. It was just in there because...well, because I liked it. :) Nothing wrong with liking a scene. In fact, I would suggest if you don't like a scene it needs some work or it should go, but if the only merit you can find for a scene's existence is that you like it, then it needs to be x'd out.

I removed the scene (saved it to its own document in case I can use it in another work somewhere) and voila! I had 1600 new words to play with.

That's the task for today. Write the new scene with the right people in the right place for the right purpose. No more building bridges to nowhere. :)

Friday, February 06, 2009

Friday Five

Book: More than Petticoats - Remarkable Minnesota Women by Bonnye Stuart

Song: Streets of Laredo

While my daughter is taking her driver's education classroom sessions (ten 3 hour classes) I've been heading to Caribou Coffee to work. So here are five things I've noticed while working at Caribou:

1. When I leave there, I smell like coffee.

2. A tall Earl Grey tea has enough caffeine in it to keep me away until 5 am.

3. There is a dilemma all coffee house patrons face at one time or another that Georgiana discussed on her blog this week. Click here to read about it. -----> Georgiana D.

4. I may have to put the crew at Caribou in the acknowledgements of Engineered Engagement, since I've written and edited most of the book there.

5. I now feel a little bit like Norm from Cheers now. Being a regular patron means the baristas know your name and even what your usual order is. They look forward to seeing you and notice when you're gone. It's a nice feeling.

Are you a coffee house writer? A home or library writer?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Photo Tag

Book: Scene & Structure by Jack M. Bickham
Song: You Belong With Me by Taylor Swift (okay, I have been listening to TS music a lot this week)

Georgiana tagged me on her blog yesterday.

The rule is you have to go to the fifth photo folder on your computer and then pick the fifth picture you find. After you post the picture, you tag five friends to do the same.

LOL, the fifth picture in the fifth photo file on my computer is of a capuchin monkey! LOL This is from a report my son did last year for English class.

I'm tagging:

Betsy Although G tagged her too. :)

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Hot on the Trail

Book I'm Reading: Scene & Structure by Jack M. Bickham
Song in my head: Tell Me Why by Taylor Swift

I am hot on the trail of a couple of concepts regarding fiction writing, and I'm getting close.

One of these concepts is Deep Point of View. I know it when I see it now, which is the first step in being able to create it myself. How am I working on this concept?


Reading writers who are masters at this discipline. Robert Parker, whose book Gunman's Rhapsody I just finished, is one of these. Why? Because when I finished reading this book, I realized he hadn't TOLD me anything about Wyatt Earp's character in the story, but I knew all about him. I knew he was a man of action instead of words. That brotherhood was the strongest bond in his life until Josie Marcus entered. That a strong code of honor ran through him, but it was his own code, not one put on him by the law or expectations. Parker didn't say anything about any of these aspects, but I knew them because he SHOWED them in Wyatt's actions.

The other concept I'm hot on the trail of is Scene/Sequel. I think this is something I've done instictively in the past, but if I can master how to do it deliberately, I can use it to more effect. Bickham's book Scene and Structure spends quite a bit of time discussing scene and sequel use, and while it is wordy and detailed in a manner reminiscent of Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer or Sol Stein's Stein on Writing, when I concentrate and boil things down, even I can 'get' what he's saying. I think this method of writing/plotting will be helpful to me, especially in the plotting and rewriting stages.

At least these ideas play into one of my strengths: analyzing things to death. If I can figure out how others do it right, I can duplicate it in my own writing. At least that's the theory. But if I don't know which animal to shoot at, this little Elmer Fudd will be forever letting that pesky rabbit of fiction writing get the best of her.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

My Own Little World

Book I'm Reading: Gunman's Rhapsody by Robert B. Parker
Song in my Head: Offering by Third Day

As you can see, I'm trying something new on my blog. I'm always reading at least one book, and I almost always have a song stuck in my head, and since this is my blog to do with as I will, I decided to force you readers to know what both of those things are at the time I post something. Lucky you, huh?
Today I went to Caribou Coffee in NW Rochester to write and wait while the firstborn attended Driver's Ed. Four classes down, six to go.
While I was there, I listened to music on my MP3 player. The DH got it for me for Christmas and I LOVE it! It's made walking on the treadmill so much more interesting--the time just flies and so do I--and I can listen my tunes without disturbing Peter. We have completely different taste in music. Today I was able to listen and drown out the sounds of the people and bustle around me.
Unfortunately, I have a hard time listening to music while I'm writing or editing. Sometimes I find myself even typing the lyrics of the song. Yikes...not good in an historical novel.
I also have to watch that I don't bust out in song in a public place. I always have the radio going in the car and my family has learned to ignore the singing along with whatever's playing. But the MP3 player is another thing altogether.
It would give new meaning to the phrase, "Does the noise in my head bother you?"*
Anybody get songs stuck in their head? Anybody sing along with the radio in the car? Anybody ever been caught jammin at the top of their lungs when they thought no one was listening?
* From the movie The gods Must be Crazy.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Two Major Awards! :)

Mucho thanks to Georgiana Daniels who conferred upon On The Write Path the Primio Dardos Blog award and the Lemonade Award.

Premio Dardos Award: This award acknowledges the values that every Blogger displays in their effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values with each message they write.

And these are the rules...

1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who granted it to you, along with his/her blog link.

2. Pass the award to (15) other blogs that you feel are worthy of this recognition. Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen as recipients.

*Please note: when copying the award picture, please download it to your own computer first and upload from there to your own blog site.

The Lemonade Award
Here's how the "When Life Gives You Lemons, You Make Lemonade" award works:

1) Link back to the person you received the award from.

2) Nominate 10 bloggers who are deserving of this award!
So here's my list of nominees (in Alphabetical Order) and like G, I'm keeping it to 10. Oh, wait, I thought of another one, so 11. :)
Thank you to Georgiana for nominating me for these awards, and thanks to all the bloggers I nominated for their contributions to my writing life, my spiritual life, and my social life. :) You Rock!