Friday, October 30, 2009

The Friday Five


Okay, so a little while ago, my friend, Katie Ganshert, gave me Five Random Words. The deal is, you have to say what each random word makes you think of.
So, here are my words:
1. s'mores, ICK! I don't like s'mores. Love the chocolate, like the graham crackers, don't like marshmallows at all!
2. satisfaction, This was a hard one. All I can think of is the song. You know the one I mean...it's going through your head right now!
3. outer space, When I was a kid, I liked the Jerry Lewis movie Way, Way Out. Jerry went to outer space as an astronaut. Now I can't imagine why I liked the film. :P
4. shots, I got a lot of shots as a kid. And the nurse, Lucy, always gave them. I loved my pediatrician, Dr. Gans, who looked just like Col. Sanders, but I was not so fond of Lucy. Years later, I met Lucy in a store downtown, and my heart still lurched.
5. crutch, Once I broke my ankle and had to use crutches. Man, is that a drag. The first day, you spend all your upright time hanging on the crutches by your armpits. And the second day, OUCH! Your armpits are killing you!
This is the last day to visit me at http://ponyexpressgraphics.blogspot.com/ Thank you, so much, CJ, for having me on your blog this week. It's been a blast!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Three Ingredient Thursday


This week's Three Ingredient Thursday:
Crock-pot Turkey!
Ingredients:
Frozen Turkey Breast (I chose a boneless, but bone in is fine)
1 Can Cranberry Sauce
1 Envelope Lipton Onion Soup Mix
Mix cranberry sauce and onion soup together. Pour over turkey breast in the crock pot. Cook on low for 8 hrs, or high for 4 hrs.
I tried this recipe last week, and it was a HUGE hit with the family. The sauce made a terrific gravy for mashed potatoes.
This recipe would be great for someone cooking Thanksgiving dinner for two-four people and doesn't want to roast an entire turkey.
Oct. 26-30th I’m chatting with CJ all week at http://ponyexpressgraphics.blogspot.com/
Drop on by and check it out. CJ makes book trailers. If you're considering a book trailer for your novel, be sure to take a look at the services offered by Pony Express Graphics.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Lie


So, I'm working on a proposal right now. This is the most difficult part of the writing world for me. Synopsis and sample chapters.
I'm also listening to some of conference recordings of the workshops I wasn't able to attend during the recent ACFW Conference.
In one of the workshops, Rachel Hauck and Susie Warren instruct the writer to find out what the lie is that their main character believes.
This gave me pause. The Lie?
After listening some more, a couple of things clicked with me re this new proposal. My main characters in this new story both believe a lie. This is what needs to be addressed in the story so that they can have a happily ever after. If neither has to confront the lie they believe, neither will have the chance to change or grow, and they have no hope of ever coming together to form a lasting relationship.
A Ha! I've given my two main characters each a pre-conception to believe in strongly as the story opens--pre-conceptions that will be tested. Pre-conceptions they will have the chance to staunchly defend or to adapt and change. Pre-conceptions they will have to abandon in order to be free to love.
So, what are the lies your characters believe? How are they tested, and what choices must the characters make as a result?
Oct. 26-30th I’m chatting with CJ all week at http://ponyexpressgraphics.blogspot.com/ . Be sure to stop by for a chance to win a prize at the end of the week. CJ hasn't even told ME what the prize will be!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Unexpected


This last Friday, Rochester got hit with a blizzard. Out of the blue. Nobody expected a half a foot of very wet snow, slick streets, power outages, and dangerous travel conditions. It's only October, after all!
I was at the coffee shop when the snow started. I had hoped to capitalize on a great writing day the day before and keep that momentum up. Thursday I'd written a solid 2800 words that I was actually happy with. I no sooner got settled in at Caribou with my Earl Grey and a reduced-fat orange-cranberry scone, when fat flakes started flying down past the windows.
And they didn't stop. Half an hour later, an inch of snow lay on the ground and started sticking on the road. I decided I'd better get home before it really got bad. Just as well. I made a quick stop at the grocery store (along with a lot of other people) and by the time I got home, there had to be at least three inches.
Once home, I thought maybe I'd settle in and try to write some more. But the power went out. And stayed out. For 14+ hours. No lights, no heat, and because we're on a well with an electric pump, no water. Sigh. The family and I built a jigsaw puzzle by candlelight, told stories, played word games, and hung out.
But I didn't get to capitalize on my writing momentum. The unexpected had come in and lingered.
I'm trying to learn to be flexible, and to factor into my plans the unexpected. Things will always come up. Things will always pull at my attention. The trick is, to roll with the punches, and be disciplined when I do have time to write.
How about you? Anything unexpected crop up this week that made you change your writing plans? How did you handle it?
*** Speaking of unexpected, God has brought quite a few unexpected things into my life in the last 24 hrs! My galley proofs for The Marriage Masquerade arrived. Yay! And the proposal I was working on is officially on hold for the moment. Time to focus on getting the galley proofs returned, and then I'll focus on tidying up the storyline for my NaNo novel.***
Oct. 26-30th I’m chatting with CJ all week at http://ponyexpressgraphics.blogspot.com/ Drop on by and check it out.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Final week push


This week is the final push before NaNo comes. For the next month, it will be all about the word count, about getting through that first draft, of stretching and challenging myself to write without editing as I go.
I have several friends also working on NaNo this year. (Waving to NaNo buddies) I think one of the best things about NaNo is doing it with friends. Encouragement, commiseration, excitement and celebration. Strength to push on when you want to quit. Competition.
So, for this week, it is all about fine tuning the synopsis and outline, and trying to finish up the sample chapters for a proposal I'd like to send off before NaNo starts. Pushing on while waiting for the big push.
Are you doing NaNo? How are you preparing? If not NaNo, what are you working on and what is pushing you to get it done?
For the blog tour,
Oct. 26-30th I’m chatting with CJ all week at http://ponyexpressgraphics.blogspot.com/ about the road to publication, book trailers, and how our friendship has developed over the years.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Friday Five


Recently my dad sent us a few photo cd's and this little gem was amongst them. My daughter at two, making her squinch face.
All these photos got me to thinking that I had a pretty great childhood. Lots of good memories. So, today is a walk down memory lane.
Five things I remember from my childhood.
1. Racing home from school to get chores and homework done in time to watch reruns of Little House on the Prairie. I'm pretty sure I had a crush on Albert, and I thought Almanzo was dreamy.
2. Playing with my sister. We shared a room and each of our twin beds would be come a houseboat, the carpet the ocean, and all our dolls, blankets, and stuffed animals covered the beds.
3. Friday Fright Night. My brother and sister watched horror movies on Friday nights. Those kinds of movies gave me terrible nightmares, so my mom and I would play board games upstairs. One night while we were playing cribbage, we heard footsteps pounding up the stairs. They got so scared at one point they pelted up the stairs, then tried to fly casual, like they weren't scared but were just coming up to see how the game was going.
4. Putting my brother in my dad's swivel recliner and spinning him round and round in it until he got sick. :) It was his idea, honest.
5. Getting a VCR. How cool was that? You could watch movies, stop, play, rewind, fast forward, and whenever you wanted! Remember Be Kind, Rewind stickers on tapes from the video rental store?
How about you, any fun childhood memories?
Today is my day to guest blog on Seekerville. Please visit http://seekerville.blogspot.com/ and get a peek at my research bookshelf.
And jump on over to http://stephaniemorrillbooks.com/blog/ to read her take on The Bartered Bride.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Three Ingredient Thursday


Trying something new for the next little while.
Most of my friends know that I'm not much of a fan of cooking. Simple is good, as far as I'm concerned.
I have one friend who loathes cooking so much that when she got engaged, someone gave her a cookbook full of recipes that had no more than three ingredients.
My kind of cooking.
I thought I'd share a Three Ingredient Recipe on Thursdays, and I'd encourage you to do the same. As writers, moms, wives, etc. we're all busy and looking for ways to streamline.
Today's recipe: Easy Fruit Salad
Ingredients:
Canned Apricot Pie Filling
Bagged frozen berries
Cool Whip
Mix pie filling and thawed berries together. Garnish with Cool Whip.
It's delish!
If you have an easy-peasy recipe, chime in! I'd love to hear it!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

We interrrupt normal blogging...

WOOHOO!!! Take a look at this fabulous trailer made by CJ over at Pony Express Graphics!

Thank you so much, CJ. It looks amazing, and I love the music...and everything about it.

If you're looking for a media trailer or website, beetle on over to Pony Express Graphics and check out CJ's many services.

A letter to Dick


Yesterday I wrote a letter to an author who inspired me, Essie Summers.
Today, I want to write a letter to Dick Francis, one of my favorite authors ever!
Dear Dick,
I wanted to write and tell you how much I enjoy your work. I've been a fan for almost twenty years, and that spans not even half of your long, successful career as a novelist.
I've spent hours reading your books, and have collected all your novels. One of your strengths as a writer that so appeals to me is your ability to immerse your reader into the occupation and world of your main character. I've learned so much about different fields of work, everything from artists to inventors to pilots to wine merchants, and so many more. It was that in-depth inside access to your characters' occupations that drew me in every time.
Aside from hours of reading pleasure that you've given me, you've really taught me about characterization and branding. As a writer, reading your work helps me see into the male POV, what a man would and wouldn't say or do, and certainly how he feels about himself and his job.
I also learned about branding. Every time I see you have a new book out, I don't care about the particulars of the story. I buy the book. I know I'm going to love it, because you wrote it and it will be in your voice, with your world-view. It will challenge me, and in the end, I'll have some questions answered and a few more raised. I love the fact that your books call for the hero to make a moral decision. And some of the intrigue comes because I'm never sure if he will make the choice I would select, or if he will go another way.
Thank you for coming through so much hardship and continuing to write after suffering loss.
With gratitude,
Erica
So, anybody read any Dick Francis? Anybody ever had an author that they loved so much they didn't care what their next book was about, knowing you would buy it no matter what?
Oct. 20-21st Join me on Patty Wysong’s blog: at http://pattywysong.blogspot.com/ to find out what I procrastinate doing, and some of my strange habits.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A letter to Essie


Today I'd like to write a letter to a remarkable woman. Ethel Flett, better known as Essie Summers, wrote more than fifty novels over the course of her career. A minister's wife and New Zealander, Essie wrote for Mills & Boon/Harlequin Romance and later in her career for Severn House. Of her 51 novels, I own 50 of the titles. I'm still searching for that elusive final title: The South Horizon Man.
Essie passed away more than a decade ago, and I was always sorry that I hadn't written to her. Now that I've reached one of my dreams, a dream she helped inspire, I wanted to pen the letter to her here.
Dear Essie,
Thank you. Thank you for being willing to write the stories that God laid on your heart. Thank you for inspiring in me a love of language, of New Zealand, of the magic of local history, and of romance.
Thank you for making your heroes heroic and noble, your heroines strong and intelligent, and for always keeping God in the picture. You wrote for a secular house, but you brought your world-view into every manuscript. You wrote romance that an innocent teen could enjoy, and that a married woman could re-read many times with pleasure. Thank you for the chastity of your characters and their high ideals, their love of family and history, and their faith.
I would love to know what you think of the changes in the publishing industry, the growth of Christian fiction, and where you think your books would fit into those changes.
I would love to know what stories you left unwritten. And I would love to know what, if anything, you would change about your writing journey.
I wish I had known you before you passed away. But though we never spoke in real life or in letters, you spoke to me through your books, teaching me how to live, what real love should look like, and you engendered in me a love of reading, writing, and the desire to follow in your footsteps in writing fiction.
With gratitude,
Erica
How about you? Do you have a favorite author that you'd love to write a letter to? What would you say?
Today and tomorrow: Join me on Patty Wysong’s blog: at http://pattywysong.blogspot.com/ to find out what I procrastinate doing, and some of my strange habits.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Blog Tour Calendar!


It's time! For the past few weeks, I've been busy scheduling blog tour stops to get the word out about my debut novel.

Oct 19th I’ll be a guest blogger at http://editcafe.blogspot.com/ the blogosphere home of Barbour Fictions editors. I’ll be talking about researching period language and my love of words.


Oct. 20-21st Join me on Patty Wysong’s blog: at http://pattywysong.blogspot.com/ to find out what I procrastinate doing, and some of my strange habits.


Oct. 23rd Seekerville! Come join me at one of the liveliest writer blogs on the web http://seekerville.blogspot.com/ where I’m guest blogging and you can get a peek at my research books and how I use them to add depth and authenticity to my fiction. And another shout out to Mary Connealy for linking to the post from her blog: http://www.mconnealy.blogspot.com/


Oct. 26-30th I’m chatting with CJ all week at http://ponyexpressgraphics.blogspot.com/ about the road to publication, book trailers, and how our friendship has developed over the years.


Nov. 2nd Georgiana Daniels, crit-bud and friend, is interviewing me. Check it out at http://georgianad.blogspot.com/


Nov. 3rd Another crit buddy and up and coming author, Katie Ganshert, is interviewing one of my characters over at http://katieganshert.blogspot.com/ Drop in to find out more about crusty old Abraham Kennebrae and his plans for his grandsons and his financial empire.


Nov. 4th Sweet Rose McCauley is hosting me at http://rosemccauley.blogspot.com/ Rose was one of the first ladies to volunteer to host The Bartered Bride on her website. Also, today, my good friend and fellow Kansan, Stephanie Morrill, is interviewing me about how I work with my daughter, Heather, in plotting my stories. You can find that interview at http://stephaniemorrillbooks.com/blog/


Nov. 5th Join me today at Jess Ferguson’s blog, where I’m guest blogging on the topic of being a Timid Marketer. You can find Jess on the web at: http://jessyferguson.blogspot.com/ And over at http://www.carlastewart.blogspot.com/ Carla Stewart is interviewing me about my writing journey.


Nov. 6th Fellow Rochester MN writer Vicki Tiedi is hosting a stop on The Bartered Bride Blog tour. Jump on over to http://www.vickitiede.com/wordpress/ to read all about it.


Nov. 9th Lori Chally at http://graceforatraveller.blogspot.com/ is interviewing one of my characters today. Lori’s a fellow Calvary Bible College grad and outstanding author. Go check it out! And my pastor, Kevin Sorensen, is reviewing The Bartered Bride at http://aclutteredmind.org/were_trying_this_again/ so stop by and take a gander at what a pastor thinks of my book.


Nov. 10th Today’s Betsy St. Amant’s day! Visit her blog to read an interview. Her blog can be found at http://www.betsy-ann.blogspot.com/


Nov. 11th Join me with the hilarious Krista Phillips at http://reflectionsbykrista.blogspot.com/ She is a hoot! And today at http://petticoatsandpistols.com/ I’m blogging about historical research, the US Cavalry, and more. Sweet Mary Connealy also gave the P&P blog post a mention at http://www.mconnealy.blogspot.com/ Thanks, Mary! And, last, but certainly not least, I’m blogging on the topic of the week over at Jody Hedlund’s blog http://jodyhedlund.blogspot.com/ Jody just signed a three book contract to write historical romance for Bethany House Publishers, and WOW, does she know her medieval torture methods! Also, friend Carole Brown at http://sunnebnkwrtr.blogspot.com will be hosting a stop along the blog tour today too.


Nov. 12th I’m Down Under with Tabitha Bird talking about the wonderful world of writing category romance. Hop on over, and join in the discussion. What are your perceptions of category romance? Have any of you encountered any of the same responses I have? Tabitha’s blog is http://tabithabird.blogspot.com/ Also, visit http://www.camys-loft.blogspot.com/ where the fabulous Camy Tang is is letting me hang with her today.


Nov. 13th Writing friend and Kansan, Sally Bradley, has an interview with me at http://sallybradley.com/?page_id=705 and while you’re there, check out her editing service. She’s stellar!


Nov. 16th Fellow Heartsong author, Myra Johnson, and I are chatting at http://myra.typepad.com/ AND I’m hosting her right here at OTWP on the same day. Our debut Heartsongs are both releasing in the same November cycle. Isn’t that cool? AND, the amazing missionary Lisa Harris is talking about The Bartered Bride this week. Check out her fascinating blog http://www.myblogintheheartofafrica.blogspot.com/


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.


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/


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.


Nov. 20th Happy Friday. Today I’m visiting with Rachel Fernandes about the joys of historical research over at her blog http://confessionsofaheadhopper.blogspot.com/ Stop by today!


Nov. 23rd Valerie Comer at http://valeriecomer.com/ is reprising a guest post I did for her awhile back. And check out Jeannie Campbell’s blog http://jeanniecampbell.blogspot.com for another interview. Visit http://wordvessel.blogspot.com/ blog home of Cathy Bryant and check out some of her amazing author questions.


Nov. 24th More of my guest post with Valerie Comer at http://valeriecomer.com/



Nov. 25th
Nov. 26th Happy Thanksgiving, folks!
Nov. 27th


Nov. 30th Today I’m at http://www.eileenastels.blogspot.com/ visiting with Eileen Astels Watson about this crazy writing journey, romance, and so much more. Stop on by to meet this sweet woman.

I've been so blessed by blogging friends who are willing to have me stop by and talk with them and their readers about my book and this writing life. I encourage you to visit these blogs. You might stumble upon a previously unknown treasure and start up a new friendship. And there will be lots of chances to win a copy of The Bartered Bride.


I'll be reposting the list and putting in a reminder of where the blog tour has moved each day. Remember, today's post is at: http://editcafe.blogspot.com/

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Real Author



After several days of stalking the UPS man, he brought my author copies of The Bartered Bride! Aren't they beautiful? A whole box of books.










Here is my son holding a copy. He's such a goof!









Here's my daughter.












And here is me. I'm feeling kinda like a real author now! I can't tell you the sense of accomplishment, the happy excitement, that pours over me each time I look at this book. It's a dream come true.

And thank you to Jody Hedlund for sending me the link to put this cool little ReTweet feature for the blog. If you use twitter and you like what you read in a particular post, click on the little green button to tweet it and let your twitter followers know about it.

Field Trip


Earlier this week, my FIL and I visited the MN Historical Society for a behind the scenes look at the conservation departments and collections.
WOW! It was soooo cooooool!
So, here are five amazing things I learned:
1. the MNHS has a ginormous room with over 100,000 BOXES of documents. School records, census records, personal papers, election results, prison papers, county meetings, township minutes, and the list goes on and on and on. Rack upon rack upon rack of identical boxes, all catalogued and ready for whomever requests to see them. If you look at the catalog for the MNHS at www.mnhs.org, you can search for documents. Then you go to the library located at the history center, fill out a request form (It's a closed stack library, so you can't wander through and pick out books and papers. The library staff does it for you and brings it to your table in the library reading room.) If the documents you want are in the storage area, they fax it downstairs and someone hops on a forklift and goes to get the box you want. It arrives via elevator and is wheeled out to your table. How cool is that?
2. 2/3 of the MNHS building is actually underground. It goes down floors and floors. And it's all climate controlled, bug free, and secured. We got to ride down in the freight elevator, which explains how they got the fuselage of an airplane into the upstairs gallery. My FIL in the picture is standing next to the airplane in the Greatest Generation exhibit.
3. The 3-D archives (anything that isn't photograph or paper documents) are extensive. Rooms just for textiles, furniture, Indian and military artifacts. We got to see the gun that shot Dillinger when he was hiding out in St. Paul. I also learned that the MNHS has more than 3000 garments of an underwear nature.
4. In visiting the conservation lab, we met three conservationists, one for textiles, one for print media, and one for pretty much everything else. They showed us how they had reconditioned an old map that was falling to bits. They mounted it on paper and then linen to stabilize it, then seamed the broken pieces together, and added new pieces where stuff was missing. It was way cool.
5. MN has a flag that was captured during the Civil War from the State of Virginia during the Battle of Gettysburgh. It was brought it home as a trophy by the private who captured it. Virginia, through the federal department of military history has twice asked for it back. Both times our governor has said, "It's ours. We captured it fair and square. It belongs in our historical archives, and that's where it will stay." I got to see that flag on Tuesday. I stood there, leaning over the case, inspecting the bullet holes, the threadbare spots, the watermarks, and all I could think of was, "Wow, what battles this flag saw. What men died defending her, and what heroic Minnesotans gave their lives so this flag would be taken. I bet there is a novel or two worth of stories all in this one piece of cloth." They had the flag laid out in a bed of archival quality cloth that was mounded jsut right in the places where the threads were loose and scooped out where the cloth was the heaviest. It looked like it was floating on a pillow. And I agree with the Governor. It's ours. We took it fair and square. You can read a little more about the flag and the controversy by clicking HERE.
Have you been behind the scenes at a museum before? Does your state have a particular artifact whose ownership is being challenged? Do you think MN should get to keep the Confederate Flag it captured?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Another Step Along The Way



Another step along the way to holding The Bartered Bride in my hands. (I'm sure you're all sick of hearing about it by now.)


My editor sent me a packet of Cover Flats yesterday. (Cover flat = cover of book before it is folded and fastened to the book.)


I can use them as post cards, in promotions, and I'm planning on framing one for my office.


Author Kim Vogel Sawyer said one way she keeps herself motivated (even after all the books she's written) is that she frames each cover and hangs them in her office, but she always leaves one frame empty. That's for the NEXT book. Pretty cool, huh?


On another topic, I'm working on a proposal for a new series, and I'm reading research books. I just finished one that was fabulous. Well written, very well documented, and so informative.


Army Wives on the American Frontier: Living by the Bugles by Anne Bruner Eales.


I learned so much from this book, and I can't wait to use that knowledge to really deepen the setting and story for Lucy Hancock and Haddon Thompson. They won't know what hit them!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

While I Wait


This past week on Katie Ganshert's blog, she talked about 10 bad ways to wait for something.
I've harkened back to her list, and the next one on healthy ways to wait for something, a few times since they were first posted.
I stink at waiting. I'm better at it when I have no choice, but still, I wouldn't say I have an aptitude for it.
I've been waiting for my first book to arrive. And I've been doing a lot of the things on Katie's 'No-no' list.
Today's the day the book is supposed to start shipping. I'm on pins and needles, but I know I need to get on with my work. I have other obligations, other books to write, and another synopsis/proposal to put together.
If only I could turn off the anticipation meter and buckle down.
How do you wait? Any tips?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Balancing Act



Last week over on Jill K's blog she talked about Balance. Balance is something I'm often searching to find.

After a late-night talk with my husband about about a billion subjects (We've been known to stay up all night talking about stuff, sharing old memories, and just enjoying each other's company.) he reminded me of a personality trait I have that can be a great strength, but also a weakness.

I'm a driven person. When I get my teeth into a project, I don't want to give up until it is done. Whether it's cleaning the basement, completing my Bachelor's Degree after my daughter was born, or writing fiction for the CBA, I set a goal and then do everything in my power to accomplish it.

This can be a good thing. I do get lots done. It can also be a major obstacle to finding balance in my life.


So, how to balance things and still accomplish my goals?

First, I need to recognize that I can't do it all, so some things will have to be set aside. I can't write novels and spend hours cross-stitching. I can't write novels and read five novels a week. I can't write novels and say yes to every opportunity to serve at church that comes along. Now, there's nothing wrong with any of these things, and there's a lot right about it. But I can't do it all.

Second, I need to recognize areas where I can streamline my processes.
  • Make out a menu for the week and a shopping list, so I'm not wondering at 4 pm every day what we're going to have for supper and if I have the ingredients for it.
  • Schedule blogs. Write them out in advance as much as possible on the weekend so I'm not scrambling the night before to think of a topic and write a post.
  • Be selective on the books I can read and review on the blog. I belong to several publishers' email lists, and they send many tempting offers of free books, but I have to be very selective, knowing what I hage time for and what I have to say no to.
  • Do bookkeeping, schooling, and read emails and blogs in the forenoon. Save afternoons for writing.
  • Bunch my errands so I'm not making multiple trips to town. On Mondays when my kids have piano lessons, I drive them to their lesson, and instead of sitting in the car reading a novel, I go to the bank, the grocery store, the post office, and the gas station.
Third, I need to listen to the needs of my family and use them as a barometer for when I'm too focussed on my goals and not giving them the time they need. I need to encourage them to discuss this honestly, and not take it personally. I need to put into practice what I'm learning in Sunday School about correction and rebuke.
So, how do you go about finding balance in your life? How do you balance family, work, writing, church, etc.?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fortune Cookie


Okay, so all last week, every time the UPS truck turned into my neighborhood, my heart jumped a bit. The later it got in the week, the higher my old ticker leapt.
In only a few days, my debut novel will start shipping to readers. And my author copies should arrive any day now. After waiting for so long for this day, now that the shipping week has arrived, I can hardly stand it.
Over the past ten days or so, I've been getting a blog tour for The Bartered Bride scheduled. Thank you to the more than THIRTY folks who are hosting me and my debut novel on their blogs in the upcoming weeks. The day my books arrive I'll get your copies packaged up and sent to you.
After I run around making "SQUEEEE!" sounds for awhile. :)
Yesterday after church, we ran to HyVee to pick up some Chinese food for lunch. When I opened my fortune cookie (And I don't believe in the karma or whatever of fortune cookies. I just get a kick out of them...and they taste good too!) it said "A package of value will arrive soon."
I sure hope so!

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Friday Five

Isn't this bear a hoot? He was at the Denver Zoo, and he laid there like a rug for a very long time. Another bear was clowning all over the exhibit, but this one wouldn't get up for anything.
He kinda looks like I felt when I got home from vacation--a vacation that included the ACFW Conference.
So this week's Friday Five is: Five things I loved about the 2009 ACFW Conference.
1. Seeing friends, new and old. Hanging with writers. Sooooo fun!
2. A continuing ed class that blew my mind. Karen Ball and Allen Arnold. They each have such a heart for writers, for books, for readers. And they want writers to THRIVE. They spent hours teaching us how to do just that.
3. Meeting with my editor, JoAnne, and realizing we were more than just editor/author, but friends.
4. Hearing the inspirational story of how Debbie Macomber went from wannabe to world-famous writer.
5. Buying books in the bookstore and getting them signed by the authors, esp. Aaron McCarver, my copy editor, whose first Heartsong released just recently.
So, how about you? What did you love about the conference, or, if you didn't go to the conference, how about what did you like about your vacation? OR if you didn't go on vacation, something recently that made you laugh, like that picture of the bear made me laugh.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Plot Board Time Again


It's back to the plotting board for me.
After writing several novels, some Seat of the Pants, some more outlined, I've finally come up with a system that works for me.
Brainstorm, compost, and otherwise ruminate on a story.
Talk about it outloud, exploring possibilities and fleshing out ideas, either with a friend on IM or with my daughter, Heather, or preferably BOTH.
Throw ideas onto post-it notes and put them up on the plot board. What did authors do before post-it notes, BTW? Arrange, rearrange, tell and retell the story, filling in holes, discarding what doesn't work, and celebrating those A HA! moments that come with such serendipity.
Layer in the spiritual thread, and work everything into the romance thread. Ruminate, discuss, discard and add some more.
Eventually, I take everything I've got off the plot board and incorporate it into a chapter-by-chapter synopsis that gives a one or two paragraph summary of the story, a line for setting. a line for characters present, and a brief statement of the scene goal. This one is especially important as I want to make sure every scene is doing some sort of job and preferably two or three things at once.
When I've sent the synop to a crit partner or two for a looksee, then I'm all set to write. Look out, NaNo, here I come!
How do you plot? Or do you write SOTP? Do you have a system, an amalgamation of systems? Or do you think, "who needs a system, let's just write!"

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

A glimpse of the setting

The above video is from the Duluth Harbor Lift Bridge, and a giant ore carrier going through. This is the setting for The Bartered Bride, especially the final chapters where The Kennebrae Bethany is trying to enter the harbor in the teeth of the worst storm to hit Lake Superior since shipping began.

I love this video because along with seeing the size of the ship and the beauty of the bridge, you're able to hear the sounds of the harbor.

The seagulls, (Yes, Georgiana, they are everywhere.) I included too many in The Marriage Masquerade, and she dinged me on it. When I went back and looked, there were birds all over the pages! Yikes! Needless to say, I tempered the number of references to gulls.

The ship's horn and the answering blast from the bridge. Each ship gives one long blast and two short to the bridge, and the bridge answers with the same if all is well.

The bridge bell as it lowers. In 1905, there was no lift platform on the bridge. A gondola hung suspended and rolled across the water from one side to the other. But the superstructure of the bridge is the same as it was when the bridge was first built more than 100 years ago.

The people. In The Bartered Bride, quite a crowd gathers on the shore to pray and watch during the storm. (An event that actually occured in 1905. More than 10K Duluthians watched from the shore as the Mataafa and her crew floundered in the surf.)

One thing you can't hear over the sound of the people and the boat and the birds is the water. I love the restless sound of the water slapping the piers and scraping on the rocky shore. As a land-lubber Kansan turned Minnesotan, the water fascinates me. I could watch it for hours.

I love Duluth Harbor and watching the ships. There is a webcam on the Lake Superior Maritime Museum that allows you to check the harbor and watch ships coming into the canal live. You can find it by clicking HERE. My family and I have stood along the pier while other relatives check the webcam to see us.

It's a good idea to check the shipping schedule so you'll know approximately when a ship will be coming or going through the canal. You can follow the shipping schedule by clicking HERE.

I hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

NaNo Prep Time


Crazy as it sounds, I'm gearing up for NaNoWriMo again this year. An exhilerating rush, a chance to pit my writing skills against the clock. Fifty thousand words in thirty days or less.
It just so happens, I have a 50K word novel to write. Maggie and the Maverick, Cal and Maggie's story. Perfect timing.
I'm looking forward to writing this story, and I'm looking forward to meeting up with local authors and participating in the write-ins.
One key to me being able to finish NaNo and accomplish the 50K word goal is all in the preparation. I need to have a solid storyline roadmap to follow. Last year I had a chapter-by-chapter synopsis outlined and I flew through the wordcount in just about three weeks.
Another key is getting off to a quick start. Lasts year I did over 7600 words the first day. This set me up very well for the rest of the book. Especially since I tend to whine and wiggle my way through the first few chapters.
A third key to a successful NaNo, at least last year's, was not having any distractions, being able to solely focus on my writing. This year that might not be possible, since I'm due to get content edits on a novel back a few days before NaNo starts. Hopefully they won't be too gruelling and I can get them tweaked and returned quickly.
How about you? Have you tried NaNo before? Are you game for this year?

Monday, October 05, 2009

Bookmarks!


SQUEEEE!

My bookmarks arrived. They are sooooo pretty. At least I think so.

Only a few more days until the book starts shipping. My heart starts jumping every time I think about it.

One thing that has crossed my mind frequently in recent days is something that Angela Hunt said as the Keynote Speaker of the 2008 ACFW Conference.

We're all muddling in the middle. There is always someone behind you on this writing journey, and there will always be someone farther along, or more advanced than you, more skilled, more experienced.

No matter where you are on the journey, reach back to help those behind, , join with those in about the same place as you, and be humble enough to learn from those who are ahead.

I've had many people who have helped me along the way, and are still helping me. Every time I sit in on a workshop, read a craft book, or read an excellently written novel, someone farther along in the process helps me out.

I try to help those who haven't been doing this as long or haven't had the experiences that I've had. But you know what? I learn through helping others, too.

So, are you being helped by someone? Are you paying it back by helping someone else? After all, we're all muddling in the middle.

***A big Happy Birthday to my beloved husband. I couldn't muddle in the middle without you!***

Friday, October 02, 2009

The Friday Five


This week is Five Things I Love About Being Home From Vacation
1. My own bed. There's just something about my own mattress, pillows, and covers that makes me sleep well. We were in 8 different hotels and one friend's house on our vacation.
2. My laptop is once again all mine. On the vacation, the daughter needed the laptop for schoolwork, and the DH needed it to check hotel rates, museum hours, email, and maps. They kept logging me out of my email account, my FB page, etc. They turned off my favorites list on my browser. I just like my computer to be my computer.
3. My cat. She LOVES me, and boy howdy, did she miss me. She's been my constant companion for the past week. She's more vocal than ever before, and more tolerant of my mushing on her.
4. Caribou Coffee's Earl Grey. I got to go back to my familiar haunt (insert Cheers theme song here) and the baristas knew me, made my Earl Grey, invited me to sample a new tea. It was soooo like slipping into a favorite pair of slippers and your ratty old comfy robe.
5. Getting back to work. This week I finished the content edits on Clara and the Cowboy and sent those in. It felt so good after three weeks away from writing to get back to work.
So, what do you like best about being home and your daily routine?
Also, on a side note:
I'm currently setting up a blog tour for The Bartered Bride for the month of November. I've been so encouraged by the responses. If you would be interested in featuring The Bartered Bride on your blog, please leave me a way to contact you in the comments section and I'll send you the info. You'll get a copy of the book and a copy to give away if you would like. I'm willing to do interviews or guest blogs, or you can just post the book information.
I'll post a list of the blog sites and dates as November draws nearer.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

October Goals


It's that time again. Time to re-evaluate and reformulate my goals for the month.
Post-ACFW Conference, I have plenty on my plate.
1. Finish content edits on Clara and the Cowboy. I've gotten the rewrites done and now need to finish the final read-through and spit polish before sending it to my editor.
2. Outline Maggie and the Maverick. Maggie will be my NaNo novel this year. Yep, that's right. I'll be doing NaNo again this November to write the first draft of Maggie. I'm excited. If I have a good outline, I'm sure I will be able to reach 50K words in one month.
3. Write a synopsis and sample chapters of another historical series. Very excited about the prospects of this one. And I get to do lots of fun research. :)
4. Content Edits on The Engineered Engagement. My content editor informed me that she will start on EE in the next week or two, so I can expect them to come after that.
5. Blog tours and marketing for The Bartered Bride that releases SOON! I can't wait to hold a copy in my hands. I have some blog posts and interviews already scheduled, but if you'd like me to do a blog post for you, please, let me know.
One goal from the August list that isn't on the October list is to teach a workshop at the Wisconsin Christian Writer's Conference. Sadly, they couldn't get enough registrants for this year, so they have canceled the conference for 2009. Hopefully, they will be able to do more marketing and have it next year.
How about you? How are your goals shaping up? Do you have proposals and queries to get out? A manuscript to finish or to polish? A deadline looming? How do you hold yourself accountable to meet your goals?