Friday, May 29, 2009

The Friday Five

You might think that only the contestants in a writing contest learn things, but as a first year category coordinator for the ACFW Genesis Contest, I learned a lot this year.
So today's Friday Five is:
Five things I learned in the 2009 Genesis Contest.
1. Spreadsheets make the contest go round. I have four I manage for one category. Entrants, judges numbers, judges' assignments, final round.
2. Camy Tang is the queen of the spreadsheets. She not only managed her own categories, but also oversaw the other seven categories and associated spreadsheets.
3. There are a lot of steps that go into getting an entry through the judging process and returned to the entrant. Lots of confirmation emails, information passing back and forth, privacy settings to check so everything remains anonymous, double-checking judges' scores (face it, we're authors, not mathematicians, so double-checking is a good idea.) I would guess that for my one category alone I've sent over 500 emails and received nearly that many in return.
4. All Electronic contests are the best! I cannot imagine the headache that paper contests must've been. Judging alone would take forever! Forget all the mailing back and forth.
5. Because more than 90% of the Genesis entrants do not final, the first round is all the feedback they are going to get. For the $35 invested, all the coordinators endeavor to ensure that the contestants are getting bang for their buck, so we read skimmed the judges's comments to make sure they had given adequate feedback. We had so many amazing judges, and I learned a lot just from reading their comments. They went above and beyond the call of duty, offering pages of ideas and advice, encouragement and praise to the entries.
A big thank you to the more than 30 judges who judged in the Women's Fiction category. You were all terrific to work with.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Flow

Lately in my WIP I have been searching for that elusive 'flow,' the writing zone where everything becomes clear, the words flow effortlessly, the story unfolds before me while I watch.
And what have I gotten instead? Drip, drip, drip. Slow, sporadic, annoying. I've pecked at my story, fighting through this tortoise phase, waiting for something to spark the story.
I found that spark last week while reading Seekerville. Camy Tang, all around terrific woman (and author of the great LI Suspense novel I'm reading right now - more about that at a later date, but tune in, you might win a copy of Deadly Intent) quoted a phrase used by Randy Ingermanson. "Dialogue is WAR."
Guess why I was having such a hard time with this scene? No CONFLICT. I needed to get my characters from here to there, and I needed to show them on the journey because a couple epiphanal thoughts occur to my hero and heroine, but on the way, not much was happening to keep things interesting.
Today, I mixed things up, changed things on my characters, and loaded in lots of sub-texting. Words flowed. More than 3 thousand words. I was in the flow of the story, and I was both enjoying the writing and what I had written.
So, how about you? Have you read or heard something this past week that opened your mind and let the words flow? Did you find some project to do that really expressed how you were feeling?
When was the last time you were really in the flow?
Don't forget the 700 Blog Post Giveaway which ends June 5th. You can't win if you don't play!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Five BIG Stars for The Night Watchman

The Night Watchman by Mark Mynheir:

Ray Quinn is a tough, quick-witted homicide detective in love with his partner, Trisha Willis. She gives Ray something to live for—something to hope in. Until a barrage of bullets leaves Trisha murdered and Ray crippled.

Struggling with his new physical disability and severe depression, Quinn turns to whiskey, scorn, and a job as a night watchman to numb the pain. But when a pastor and a dancer are found dead in an apparent murder-suicide, the pastor’s sister approaches Quinn for help.

Reluctantly, Quinn takes the case and is plunged into the perilous Orlando underbelly. Soon he discovers that, not only was the pastor murdered, but the case may be linked to his and Trisha’s ambush. Torn between seeking revenge or responsibility, Quinn is thrust into the case of his life.

Author Mark Mynheir gives readers his most profound police thriller to date with The Night Watchman (first book in The Night Watchman Private Detective Agency Series). Readers of all ages will devour this gripping murder mystery that bristles with tension and intrigue. In a taut cop-style all his own, Mynheir delivers an inside look at the thoughts, feelings, fears, and challenges police officers experience while investigating violent crimes and the lost souls who commit them.

Author Bio:
A detective with the Criminal Investigations Unit of the Palm Bay Police Department, Mark Mynheir investigates violent crimes and writes riveting Christian fiction. A U.S. Marine with a passion for martial arts and firearms training, Mark has worked on narcotics units, SWAT teams, and myriad high-risk situations. His four novels offer a realistic glimpse into the gritty world of law enforcement and the rarely seen raw emotions behind the badge. Mark lives in Florida with his wife and three children. (What the canned bio doesn't say is that Mark's a super-nice guy--I've met him a couple times. I just finished listening to the continuing education track Mark taught at the 2008 ACFW Conference on Police Procedural in Fiction. I have no intention of writing a cop book, but I was riveted by the lectures, fascinating stuff.)

My Review: I was BLOWN AWAY by this book! I think Mark Mynheir has hit on something really special with his protagonist Ray Quinn. The first person voice is perfect in this story. I have told so many people about this book, including my pastor (who read it in something like two days--I got a note saying the book had cost him a lot of sleep because he couldn't put it down--and he blogged about it HERE.) I talked about it to the staff at the local Christian bookstore when I was there at a book signing. I read bits out loud to whoever happened to be near me in my house. I thought about this book all the time! And I'm still thinking about it. As good as Mark's debut series The Truth Chasers was, The Night Watchman is the best from Mark so far by far.

Some gems in the story for me:

  • The detective's voice - His sarcasm (used as a shield) is biting and funny and a bit sad
  • Crevis Creighton - The best and most unlikely side-kick I've read in a long time
  • The spiritual elements - Real Christians with real struggles, and the protagonist isn't a zealous believer by the end of the book. He's questioning, doubtful, fearful, and the whole story doesn't wrap up with three points and a poem. It feels so REAL!
  • The cop stuff - Because the author is a been-there-done-that cop, everything about the police procedures and the psychology of the protagonist has resounding veracity.
  • The story - The way this story loops around full circle was BRILLIANT! and so very satisfying.

I'd compare this book to James Scott Bell's Ty Buchanan series, and John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee series. It's THAT good.

If you'd like to purchase a copy of The Night Watchman, click HERE.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Funny Thing happened...

Something funny happened to me the other day when I was waiting at Panera Bread for my daughter. Heather was at the Y working on her Red Cross Lifeguard Recertification, and I had four hours to kill, so I headed to Panera with the laptop to work on edits to Clara and the Cowboy.

After I had been there awhile (I ordered soup and a sandwich--they have really good French Onion Soup) the manager came up to my table. "Are you working or playing?" She motioned to the laptop. (She was really sweet, not telling me to move on or anything. The store was practically empty, and I think she just wanted to make conversation.)

"Working. Editing a novel." (Okay, so I had been checking my email and updating my status on Facebook, but I was also working on the novel.)

This led to a little discussion about writing and publication. We talked about the books releasing next year and about how long the publication process can be from contract to book launch.

Her eyes got round, and she said, "So, the publisher pays you for that, right? So, you're like a millionaire now, huh?"

I did NOT fall off my chair laughing, because her question was sincere, even if her perception of what a writer makes was a little off the mark.

Am I millionaire from writing books? No, but I'm richer than I've ever been in the friends and colleagues this crazy journey has brought to me.

How about you? Are you feeling rich?

Monday, May 25, 2009

From The Compost Heap

This little list came from CJ's Compost Heap. The picture is one I took in northern Iowa on an Amish farm we were visiting for business. I chose the sheep picture because I'm a bit of a sheep when it comes to these kinds of 'all about you' posts. I see one and think, 'That would be fun!' and throw it on the blog.
What's your dream house?

The one I live in, when my husband and kids are home and happy.
Where would you be able to spend hours and be happy?
Caribou Coffee with Earl Grey and the laptop.

What's your favorite doughnut?
Bavarian Creme with chocolate icing from the Cub Bakery.

Do you know how to cook?
Yeah, but I don't take that skill out of the box very often.

Do you like icecream?

Have you been in a close to death situation?
Yes, every time as a kid that I did something monstrously idiotic and my mom found out. :)

At what age do you want to die?
How about a ripe old one, though I don't really want to die, I want to be Raptured. :)

What is the color of your room?
Yellow with dark red drapes and bedspread.

How big is your house?
Not big enough when I'm having the New Year's Day Football, Food, and Fellowship Party, but way too big when I'm cleaning it.

What do expect for your future?

Good times, good times. :)

Do you have any allergies?
Paper tape and morphine.

How many times do you hug people in a week?
Lots of hugs with my immediate family, beyond that if you try to hug me you're risking bodily harm to yourself. Hugging people I'm not closely related to freaks me out. I make a few exceptions, like close friends I haven't seen in a long time, but it's always initiated by them.

Are you a facebook addict?
Not really, but I enjoy it
Do you believe in God?
With all my heart and a piece of my liver.

What is your fave type of underwear?

Do you like snow?
As long as I can stay home and watch it fall, yeah. If I have to be out in it, then NO!

Winter or summer?
Summer, summer, summer

When are weddings better when its cold or hot?
weddings in summer or winter are okay (I had a winter one). Weddings where both parties love each other and love Jesus are the best, regardless of the season.

What is the best thing that has ever happened to you?
too many great things to count, though meeting my beloved has to rank way up there

Do you believe in ghosts?
Like Casper? No, Like spirits and demons, then, yes

How old are you?
Old enough to know better? 39.95 plus shipping and handling? Okay, I'm 40.
What is your favorite sport?
Whatever's on the tv that doesn't involve boxing or wrestling.

What was the last movie you saw?
Kung Fu Panda (again)

Copy and paste if you want to play and let me know.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Friday Five

This is a picture of my son's red dragon named Thorn. Cute, isn't he?
In keeping with the 700 post theme, I'm going to list my favorite Friday Fives.
My favorite Friday Fives:
5. Things you will never hear me say. (I loved this one as much for the responses as the post itself.)
Remember the Great Book Giveaway in honor of 700 blog posts at OTWP.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

700 posts fast approaching!

Okay, so I never thought I'd get to the place where I had 700 blog posts. When I started OTWP in the spring of 2006, I had no idea where it would go, nor did I realize how much I would love blogging. It's neat to have a journal of my life, thoughts, and silly random stuff that occurs to me. I've never been a diarist, so having this blog has filled that slot in my life. (I've examined why I've never been big into keeping a diary/journal, and the only thing I can come up with is that I have a great aversion to writing in books. I have a hard time even underlining things in my Bible. It just goes against everything in me to write in a book. I can hardly even make pencil edits on a hard copy of a manuscript.)

Lord willing, June 5th will see the 700th blog post at OTWP. And how will I celebrate? By giving away books!

I'm giving away 10 books (pictured above) hoping to spread the word about great Christian Fiction and reward you faithful readers who are kind enough to read my rambling thoughts.

One Step Over the Border by Stephen Bly
A Shadow of Treason and
A Whisper of Freedom by Tricia Goyer
My Soul to Keep by Melanie Wells
Diamond Duo by Marcia Gruver
Fair Game and
A Bride So Fair by Carol Cox
Lightning and Lace by DiAnn Mills
Magdalene by Angela Hunt
A Love to Last Forever by Tracie Peterson

What a line-up. Great writers, great stories, and you can win them all. Imagine having a giant box of books show up on your doorstep. Ah, bliss!

What do you have to do to win?

1) Leave a comment on each new post between now and June 5th. That's 12 comments. Let me know you're out there. Writing can be a solitary pursuit, and it encourages me to know someone is reading.

2) Sometime between now and June 5th, in one of your comments, let me know what your favorite post at OTWP has been. Something writing related? Something wacky from the Friday Five? Scroll back through the archives and let me know what catches your eye.

3) Make sure you leave a way for me to contact you if you should win.

That's it. From those names eligible, one of my offspring will draw a name from the Day-Glo Orange Hunting Cap and the winner will be announced June 8th.

Thank you all for reading, and thank you for your encouragement on this path. We've come a long way.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Blog Photos

One of the dilemmas of having a blog is finding blog pictures without ripping them off other sites. I'll confess that when I first started this blog, it never occurred to me that taking a picture from another site was actually stealing. Naive, I know.

But what to do? I take photographs myself, but I don't have pictures of everything I'd like to talk about on the blog.

Enter MorgueFile. This is a treasure trove! Everything from Lighthouses to Cowboys. Perfect! And all free! I've found pictures for everything I have wanted to talk about on the blog. I encourage you to check out this fabulous website full of images for use by bloggers and other creative types.

I also use free clip art pictures from time to time, and I'm building my library of photos and images. I love MorgueFile and I think you will too.

Where do you find your blog images?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Slow and steady

I'm almost finished with the final read-through of Clara and the Cowboy. I don't know why, but this read-through has taken me a long time. Much longer than I anticipated. Which makes me ask - WHY?

I have a couple of theories.

1. Busy, busy time of year. Orthodontist appointments, driving school hours, award ceremonies, lifeguard recertification, piano recitals, graduation parties, bridal showers...seems like there's something every day. May has been a really busy month.

2. Reading with better educated eyes. Having been through a couple of content edits now, I'm really working to avoid any descriptive errors, klunky sentences, places where I'm unclear. My goal is to make my story the best it can be.

I'd like to be a rabbit and hop through this content edit, but I'm more of a tortoise. But as they say, "slow and steady wins the race." I'm not so much concerned with winning as finishing well.

What project are you working on, and do you feel like a tortoise or a hare?

Monday, May 18, 2009

BloomingTown MN

Yay, flower time in MN. Renewal, beauty, and a chance to hang out with my kids and laugh. Last Friday James and I went to the nursery and picked out plants and flowers for my little garden and flower boxes and pots. I have a little garden because as much as I love flowers, I despise weeding. My goal is to cram in so many perennials in the plot that the weeds have no room to grow. :) Now if I could just keep the deer from giving my day lilies a buzz cut.
Another sign of spring here is the turkeys. This is a picture of the one who was taking a stroll through the back yard.

And the calves. We drive by a pasture full of calves on our way into town. In April the cows drop their calves, tan, black, brown, some with white faces, all adorable. There must be about 100 calves, napping, running, nursing, and staring amazed as cars go by on the gravel road. I stopped to snap this little beauty one day last week. By October she'll be a husky vealer about three times this size.
What are the signs of spring where you live?

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Friday Five - FLAIR!

This week's Friday Five is Five of my favorite flair on Facebook. (How's that for alliteration???) I love Flair. There's just something so funny about those little circles. So in random order (and evidently random placement on this post) here are five of my faves.

From my daughter. One of my all time faves. And so true!

From Elizabeth Sorensen. Sporks are big around my place, and this one is hilarious.

From fellow math aficionado Jonathan Sorensen. I hear your pain, buddy!

From my friend Bonniebee. She knows me well.

This one came from my daughter and son. How funny is this????

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Here are the Finalists for the 2009 Genesis Contest. Congratulations to all the finalists!

CONTEMPORARY FICTION:(total entries: 44)

Sharon Ball
David W. Fry
Jennifer Griffith
Ane Mulligan
Patty Slack

CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE:(total entries: 75)

Cathy Bryant
Kathleen Haynes
Lisa Jordan
Christy LaShea Smith
Eileen Astels Watson

HISTORICAL FICTION:(total entries: 39)

Nancy Herriman
D'Ann Mateer
Christina Miller
Sandi Rog
Christine Schmidtke

HISTORICAL ROMANCE (six finalist entries due to a tie, but one is adouble finalist):(total entries: 57)

Jody Hedlund (double finalist with two entries)
Lisa Richardson
Connie Stevens
Gina Welborn
Lacy Williams


David Fry
Anne Greene
Dineen Miller
Lynda Schab
Alan Schleimer

ROMANTIC SUSPENSE:(total entries: 50)

Mary F. Allen
Wenda Dottridge
Danica Favorite-McDonald
Kelly Ann Riley
Janet Warren


Valerie Comer
Megan Ebba
David Fry
Suzanne Krein
Lisa Tuttle

WOMEN'S FICTION:(total entries: 62)

Cathleen Armstrong
Marie Wells Coutu
Candee Fick
Julie Garmon
Ashely Weis

YOUNG ADULT:(total entries: 37)

Kasey L. Heinly
Gretchen Hoffman
Susan Miura
Diana Sharples (double finalist with two entries)

This year, the Genesis had a whopping 454 entries! That's a gigantic 43% increase from our numbers last year! Hooray!

A Love To Last Forever


All Beth Gallatin has really wanted out of life is to settle down in one town, with one man, and raise a family. But with her father's roaming ways, she's always been denied that dream; instead, she found solace in reading romantic books. With her father's passing, she can, for the first time, dare to claim the rugged Montana frontier as her home.
Nick Lassiter has loved Beth since she first came to town, but she's always seemed to think of him more as a brother. Just when he finally gets Beth to consider him, however, a challenger threatens the affection growing between them.
But neither Nick nor Beth is prepared when they must face the consequences of Nick's complicated past. As a past fraught with unwise choices and guilt invades their world, can Nick and Beth find a love that will last forever?


Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 70 novels. Tracie also teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. She and her family live in Belgrade, Montana.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Movie Date

This past weekend, my husband took me out to a movie and lunch for Mother's Day. We went to see Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Funny, light, enjoyable, very much a chick flick. (Face it, Matthew M. is pretty easy on the eyes.) I had a great time, saw plenty of things coming in this movie, but didn't mind. I was actually a little proud of myself for seeing the plot and structure of the movie, the epiphany moment, the rising conflicts, etc. Made me feel like I might finally be getting the hang of this GMC/Plot and Structure thingy.
The theatre was terrific too, stadium seating, plush chairs, lots of legroom. And through all the opening previews, Peter and I were the only folks in the room. I chose to sit in the top row with my back to the wall, since I hate having people sitting behind me during a film. They're forever kicking the back of my chair.
As the opening credits of the film rolled, however, three ladies laden with Big Gulp sized sodas and popcorn/nachoes/milk duds/ju-ju-bees came in. And where do you think they sat? In the row RIGHT IN FRONT OF US. 400 seats to choose from, and they have to sit close to us. Sigh. Not another soul came in to see the 11:50 matinee. Just the five of us. And Peter was the only guy. He's such a good sport. Then we had a nice lunch, an extra treat since we'd gone out on date night the night before.The next day, he had to blow off the lingering estrogen dust, and watch a John Wayne film. A Manly one. Allegheny Uprising. Lots of shooting, and war, and buckskins.
Next we'll go see the new Star Trek movie, after which I'll probably need to watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding or While You Were Sleeping.
When we take the kids to see Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, I'll probably need to watch Night at the Museum again.
What movies have you seen, will you see, and were they guy films or girl films?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Oh my, oh my, oh my!

The photograph is one I took at Caribou Coffee a few weeks ago. The cap is my son's MarioKart ballcap. The stuffed bear hangs in the kids' area in the coffee shop. I'm toying with a name for him.
Any suggestions?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Book signing

This past week I was pleased to get to attend a booksigning at my local Christian Bookstore, Christian Book & Gift in Rochester. Four women from Bethany House Publishers were signing their historical fiction.

Lauraine Snelling

Nancy Moser (who couldn't attend because she got ill, though she did send signed bookplates)

Stephanie Grace Whitsun

and Kim Vogel Sawyer.

I was so happy there was a good turnout for these fine ladies. And everyone seemed to be having a good time.

I purchased A Promise of Spring by Kim Sawyer. It was so nice to see Kim again, to talk about Kansas a little, to hear some of her exciting good news, and to get my book signed. When I read the back cover copy of A Promise of Spring, I KNEW I would love it. Kim has such a gentle, touch with her historical romances. She always delivers an enjoyable, thought-provoking read.

I couldn't help but daydream a little bit about how it might be to sign my own books at Christian Book & Gift. I think the way these ladies handled it was great. Several authors who all write historicals, well advertised with a post-card mailing in advance, posters, etc. Fresh flowers on the tables, lots of books on hand, helpful, attentive staff. It was just so nice, I can only hope if I get the opportunity to sign books at CB&G, that it will go as well.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all the mom's out there. And a special Happy Mother's Day to my Mom, Esther. I hope you're feeling better soon.

Friday, May 08, 2009

The Friday Five

Today's Friday Five is:

My five favorite Hymns.

1. Amazing Grace.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a Vetsch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

When we've been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.

2. How Firm A Foundation.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

Even down to old age all My people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

3. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. And I wish newer hymnals wouldn't change the wording. I love the old phrases. "Here I raise my Ebenezer." How great is that?

v.1 Come, thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace; streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise. Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above. Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it, mount of thy redeeming love.

v.2. Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I'm come; and I hope, by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home. Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God; he, to rescue me from danger, interposed his precious blood.

v.3. O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be! Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.

4. Great Is Thy Faithfulness.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.


Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!


5. Day by Day.

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment,
I've no cause for worry or for fear.
He, whose heart is kind beyond all measure,
Gives unto each day what He deems best,
Lovingly its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day the Lord Himself is near me,
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear and cheer me,
He whose name is Counsellor and Pow'r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
"As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,"
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then, in every tribulation,
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith's sweet consolation,
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E'er to take, as from a father's hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.

So, do you have favorite hymns?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Quack, quack

One thing I'm continually learning is that just as soon as you think you have your ducks in a row, one of those ducks goes maverick, and you have to change your plans.
This isn't all bad, but it can be jarring to a list-maker-item-checker-offer like me. I just recently posted my May Goals. Line up, all you little May goal ducks. But, alas, I forgot one duckling in the row.
Yesterday morning the content edit for The Marriage Masquerade showed up in my inbox. If you'll notice, content edits for MM weren't on my May goals. Quack, quack, another duck joined the flock, swimming in happy little circles. So, what to do with my growing family of goals? And this goal was a doozy.
I will freely admit to feeling a little apprehensive seeing that email in my inbox. What if the editor didn't like it? What if I was a one-hit wonder, and the rest of the books in the series tanked? What if she was returning it to me with a 'no, thank you, this stinks?' (Ah, the insecurities of the writerly mind.) With much trepidation, I opened the document.
Have you ever read something kinda out of the corner of your eye, squinting through your lashes, like if you didn't look right at it, then it wouldn't be as bad as you feared? Like when you were little, watching those creepy flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz from between your fingers as you edged backwards across the carpet until you were pressed up against your mom's legs where she sat on the couch. That's kinda what I did.
But, lo and behold, the editor liked the story! Yay! And as I read her comments, tweaks, and notations, I remembered again what the goal here was: To turn out the best manuscript possible. My fab editor, Rachel Overton, isn't out to get me, to denigrate my work, to rewrite my story. She's there as my safety net, my backstop, and I hope as a friend and mentor. And I'd much rather she hammer the manuscript hard while it is still in the editing stage than to let stuff slide that some hawk-eyed reader will pick out. The last thing I want to do is break faith with my readers by turning out sloppy work.
So, today, I changed my plans, rolled up my sleeves, and got to work on content edits on The Marriage Masquerade. And would you believe it, I got all the way through them today. Now I'll let them marinate for awhile before revisiting them one last time. Then I'll send that little duck flying back to the publisher.
The content edits put me in mind of contest entries. In just a few short days, hundreds of contest entries will be winging toward inboxes. Some people will be thrilled with their 'content edits' and some will not. Some will take the words of the judges as they were meant to be taken: As gentle mentoring meant to help the contestant grow in their writing and turn out the best manuscript possible. Some will not be able to see the scores and comments for what they are. There will be hurt feelings, kicked trash cans, and bad thoughts.
If you entered the Genesis or any other contest, or if you've submitted your masterpiece to an agent or editor, then start preparing your heart now. Expect to receive comments that will help you improve your manuscript. Know that the judges, like editors, are motivated by the desire to help you produce great fiction. And keep writing! Those ducks will fall into line.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Guest Blogging Today

Please join me over at Katie Ganshert's blog where I'm guest blogging today.
Katie's an enthusiastic new writer with a talent and passion for writing that will take her far.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

May Goals

It's time for the May goal check. How are you doing on your writing goals this year? How are you doing on any of your goals? Here are mine and how I've progressed so far.
1. Copy Edits for The Bartered Bride. These should come to me in a couple weeks.
2. Turn in The Engineered Engagement. Sometime after June 2009.
3. Finish final edits on Clara and the Cowboy. The contract for this one arrived and the deadline was moved up from September to June. I'll give this one one more readthrough and send it off in the next week or so.
4. Begin plotting and writing sequels to Clara and the Cowboy: Lily and the Lawman and Maggie and the Maverick. I added 12K words to the mss. in April. Not as much as I would've liked, but better than nothing. I am just over half way. Hoping to get Lily finished and Maggie plotted this month.
5. Prepare proposal packet and three chapters of a mystery/romance I've got kicking around in my head, including materials to pitch at ACFW. Haven't started this one yet.
6. Register for ACFW Denver. Registration is slated to open this month.
7. Attend ACFW Denver. Less than 135 days!
8. Read 5 books on craft this year, focusing on characterization, conflict, and endings. Just ordered the new Donald Maass book The Fire in Fiction. Looking forward to this one.

9. Coordinate the Women's Fiction category for the ACFW Genesis Contest. The requirements for this job are winding down. I'm more in awe than ever of Camy Tang, organizer par excellance. And all the judges. They've gone above and beyond the call of duty. I've learned so much from them. I'm anxious to make those finalist calls. :)
So, how'd your April goals go? What are your plans for May?

Monday, May 04, 2009

Winding things up and looking forward

Spring is a time of winding things up and looking forward to summer.
We wind up school. My son has been done for a couple weeks, and my daughter has finals coming up in a couple weeks. She's marking things off her course requirements, things she's worked for months on. Papers, speeches, presentations. At the same time, registration is opened for her next semester, and my son's textbooks arrived for next fall.
Sports are winding up. I'm watching the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs (aka the second season). The NBA Playoffs are in full swing, though I don't watch them. At the same time, baseball season is back. Cubs' games, Twins games, and the surprising Kansas City Royals. Love the boys of summer.
We've put away the snowblower and already the neighbors are mowing, filling the air with the smell of fresh cut grass.
I tipped the treadmill into the upright position. It's time to walk outside.
One thing that isn't winding up as quickly as I'd like is my current WIP. I keep pecking away at it, near the halfway point now. I'm hoping to wind up this first draft by June 1st.
Tomorrow is Goal's day. Time to evaluate how I did in April and set new goals for May.

Friday, May 01, 2009

The Friday Five

A few weeks ago, I posted about the summer I lived in Colby, Kansas, and mentioned "The Greatest Vacation Ever" that we took that summer.
So, here are five things I remember about that Vacation:
1. The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. I think this was the birthplace of my love of history, museums, and in particular Egyptology.
2. The accents we heard when we went to Duluth, MN. Boat is pronounced boot, mountain is moontun, etc. The funny thing is, I talk kinda like that now after 15 years in the gopher state.
3. Seeing prairie dogs in a zoo exibit at the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth. It baffled us Kansans as to why they would put something so common and pesky in a zoo.
4. Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota. We read the billboards advertising the Drug Store for hundreds of miles before we pulled into town. As an 11 year old, it was worth all the hype. I got a Breyer horse there. :)
5. Visiting the Garden of the Gods park in Colorado and watching a helicopter rescue of some climbers who got stranded on top of this big old spire of rock with a thunderstorm rolling in and lightning flashing everywhere.
What was your most memorable childhood vacation?