Sunday, June 27, 2010

Out of pocket

I'm going to be out of pocket for the week. Have a great time this week in the blogosphere, and I'll catch up with everyone next week.

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Seekerville Friday Five

Howdy! Today I'm over at SEEKERVILLE guest blogging and giving away a copy of Clara and the Cowboy. Hop on over to talk about your editing process.

To celebrate being on Seekerville today, I'm going to share five things I love about Seekerville and think they do an awesome job of with that blog.

1. Participation. There are 15 ladies who blog at Seekerville, and their support of each other via commenting and posting is wonderful.

2. Variety. The posts are informative and entertaining and cover the gamut of topics.

3. Community. Seekerville readers and commentors are very loyal and through our comments, we get to know each other and the Seekers.

4. Contact. Seekerville has had some awesome guests, agents, editors, industry professionals. Great interviews and participation in the comments. The Seekers encourage their guests to respond to their commentors. (Here I'm wincing because I'm out of pocket today and can't respond to everyone until later in the day.)

5. Fun. They specialize in cyber-food. Every morning there's something new and mouth-watering, and it gets folks talking.

I'm blessed to have been asked to post three different times at Seekerville and each one has been a treat.

Please drop by today and join the conversation, even if you're not a writer. You'll be entered to win a copy of Clara and the Cowboy.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Recipe Thursday

4 c. hot seasoned mashed potatoes

1 c. sour cream

1/3 c. chopped green onions, optional

4 oz. sharp Cheddar cheese

1/2 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients, turn into greased 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Yield 6 servings. (Can make ahead of time and refrigerate.)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fine Art?

Pointillism:  the theory or practice in art of applying small strokes or dots of color to a surface so that from a distance they blend together.

Isn't this what we do as writers? Individual letters become words which become sentences, paragraphs, scenes, chapters, and novels.

Yet, if we're too close, we can't see anything but the one color block, the one giant dot in front of our nose, which is why it's good to:

  • let a manuscript rest before hitting it with edits. Getting some space and time away from your own work helps you come at it with a fresh eye.
  • get an objective opinion from an editor or critique partner who can point out what you are too close to see.

When you get the proper distance from your work, you can stand back and see the overall picture. The thousands of words, hundreds of paragraphs, dozens of scenes and chapters can all coalesce into a beautiful picture.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tip for Tuesday

Today's Tip for Tuesday shouldn't be a hardship.


How does reading help your writing?

1. Reading keeps you abreast of what's going on in the industry. You'll read what's hot. What's been done. What's been done to death.

2. Reading helps you identify your own likes and dislikes as well as helping you identify what it is you write and how it fits in that genre.

3. Reading improves your vocabulary and shows you new ways to say things. Each writer has his own lexicon and voice which he draws on and you can learn from. If you only ever read your own work in progress, you'll get stale and be limited to the things you already know.

4. Reading allows you to take an objective look at a story and dissect it. Identify what works and what doesn't. What REALLY works and what REALLY doesn't. It's so hard with your own story, which you are deeply invested in, to be objective. But someone else's work? Especially a stranger? Hack away at it, pull it apart, line up the shiny bits to study and the not so shiny bits to really study.

5. It's fun!!!! Read outside your favorite genres and in. Treat yourself to something new. Read the best in the industry, read the classics, read for fun and for information.

So, what are you reading right now? I just finished Ends of the Earth by Tim Downs and So Over It by Stephanie Morrill. Both excellent, BTW.

I'm starting Chasing Lilacs by Carla Stewart followed by Exposure by Brandilyn Collins.
Addendum: Since posting this on Sunday night, I finished Chasing Lilacs (A VERY VERY good book! Go get it) and have started Exposure.

Monday, June 21, 2010

New new Cover art...

Last week I posted the new cover art for Lily and the Lawman. Then there was a last minute change. The design team needed to change quilt in the background of the cover. So, here's the final cover art for Lily. This quilt, though not my beloved red, does fit the description in the story better.

Also, to clarify, Ashley Schrock is the creative director for the Heartsong Presents cover art projects, and she has designers who put together the cover art. Ashley designs many of the covers for Barbour products herself, but she has helpers for all the Heartsong covers that go out each month.

In the back of each Heartsong is a tearout survey about that particular book and author and Heartsong titles overall. One of the things you can express your opinion about is the cover art. Your feedback helps the design department know what appeals to readers. So if you've read a Heartsong or two, please, consider filling out those tear-off sheets and sending them in.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Friday Five

A week from tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of my mother-in-law's death. I know there are many jokes about mothers-in-law and lots of women don't get along with their husband's mother, but I loved Lorraine, and to my knowledge, there was never a cross word between us. She was one of the most genuinely kind women I have ever met.

So, today's Friday Five:

Five things I loved about Lorraine E. Vetsch

1. She taught me so much about contentment. She could find joy in the simplest things. She never complained, not even when her cancer returned and she had lots to complain about.

2. She taught me to enjoy gardening. Though I will never have the passion for it she had, I now have lots of flowers at my place and together, my sister-in-law and I planted Lorraine's flower garden this spring.

3. Her laugh. She didn't laugh often, but when she did, it was infectious.

4. She loved her family dearly. She always put them first, ahead of her wants.

5. Her humility. She was brilliant, valedictorian of her high school class and her college class. She worked at the Mayo Clinic before her marriage and was highly regarded by the neurosurgeons she worked for. But you never would've known it, because she never bragged about it.

There are so many more things I loved about Lorraine, not the least of which is the way she raised her son, Peter, my husband.  I miss her every day.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Recipe Thursday

Week before last when my sister-in-law Becky was here, she made a delicious salsa dip for us, and I'd like to share the recipe with you here.

1 lg can whole peeled tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 lg onion
1 jalapeno pepper
1 cucumber
lime juice

Put everything in the blender and give it a whirl. The cucumber adds a refreshing coolness! You can use fresh tomatoes instead of canned, and you can use hotter or cooler peppers, depending on your taste.

Serve with warm tortilla chips.

So, are you into hot, spicy food or is your palate more delicate?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New Cover Art and some fun news

Yay! Here's the cover art for my fifth release, Lily and the Lawman.


It is so incredibly perfect. At one point in the story, Lily leaves Trace's Bible, badge, and rifle bullets on the quilt. Ashley Schrock, designer supreme, captured exactly what I had in mind. I love the red in the title and the quilt, because red is my favorite color. Yay, Ashley!

Here's a bit from the back cover of Lily and the Lawman, releasing later this summer:

Lily has never been so alone.

Her sister Violet has died and her niece Rose has been kidnapped. The U.S. Marshals who are supposed to be looking for Rose are ill and injured. Lily has two choices: find Rose herself (which she has no idea how to do) or trust Trace McConnell to find the baby for her. But Lily has trusted men for the last time. So maybe she will do this on her own.

Trace McConnell—almost-bad-boy-turned-local-lawman—would be happy to hunt down the kidnappers and return Rose to the intriguing Lily Whitman, except Lily won’t let him go alone. How is he supposed deal with kidnappers and killers when his mind and heart are so distracted by this frustrating woman?

Is a God whose ways seem inexplicable really a God who is trustworthy? Is He really with them, or has He forsaken them, despite what His Word says?

In other news, recently some very kind feedback was posted on The Edit Cafe regarding the characters in The Marriage Masquerade. Each week, JoAnne Simmons, editor of Heartsong Presents, posts feedback she has received on one or more titles. Hop on over and hear what one kind soul had to say about the characters in The Marriage Masquerade.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tip for Tuesday - Your Growth Chart

This past week I took my son to the doctor for a physical. They weighed, measured, proded, and did the whole turn your head and cough thing on him. The verdict: my son is disgustingly healthy. Yay!

They also plotted his height on a growth chart. He's always been tall for his age, but now he's in the 97th percentile. Theoretically, out of every 100 boys his age, he would be taller than 96 of them. The funny thing is, they never find that 100th boy. Unless my child is headed for the Guinness Book of World Records, he will not be the 100th percentile.

Because I'm a writer, I got to thinking of how growth charts mimic writing journeys.

First, wouldn't it be great if you could plot your progress on a growth chart? Plug in your manuscript, and some guru-scanner processes it and spits out a ranking. "You are now at the 64th percentile. Good job!"

Second, this growth chart would measure more than our writing skill. The writing life will stretch you and force you to grow in ways you never imagined. You'll learn to handle rejection, criticism, disappointment, and long waits. You'll also learn how to handle compliments, success, fulfillment, and joy. There are lots of ways to plot your progress. How many words have you written? How many contests have you entered? Have you finaled in a contest? Have you submitted your work to an agent or editor? Have you had a request for a full manuscript? Have you had a novel published? More than one?

Third, there is no 100th percentile for a writer. Just as there is no 100th percentile on a medical growth chart, there is no author who has arrived, who has achieved that mark of never needing to improve anything. Not Stephen King, not Flannery O'Connor, not Dick Francis (though he got awfully close in my estimation!) In the words of the fabulous Angela Hunt, "We are all muddling in the middle." No matter where we are on this journey, where we might fall on the growth chart, we have room to grow. Personally, professionally, spiritually.

So, where do you think you are on the writer growth chart?

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Engineered Engagement is here!

I'm happy to announce that The Engineered Engagement is now available to order from Heartsong Presents. The Engineered Engagement is book three in the Kennebrae Brides series.

From the Back Cover:

A Kennebrae keeps his word.... But Grandfather made the promise, and Eli Kennebrae is expected to carry it out. Josie Zahn has admired Eli from a distance for years, but Eli hardly knows she exists other than as just "one of the Zahn girls." If only she could get his attention... When Father announces her older sister Clarice's engagement to Eli, both girls are crushed. Is there no way out of this nightmare? Deception, intrigue, and danger make life miserable for the Zahns and the Kennebraes as they learn that Divine enginneering is far better than human manipulation.

About the writing of the book.

This book was the first NaNo novel I completed. The entire first draft was written over about three weeks in November of 2008, then editing took place over the next six weeks or so. I loved writing it, as I had lived for a long time with these characters in my head. The heroine, Josie, and I have a lot in common. We both struggled with feeling as if we were in the shadow of an older sibling, and we both struggled with what it was that God wanted us to do with the talents we'd been given. The major difference here is that Josie is a gifted mathematician, and I can barely add two and two.

Some exciting news about the books in this series. This last week, a woman from Florida telephoned Heartsong's customer service and ordered many copies of The Engineered Engagement. She contacted me about signing some copies for her, because she was planning a trip to Ireland and Scotland in a couple weeks and wanted to take copies of all the books in this series to her friends there. The Kennebrae Brides go international! Thank you, Nancy!

If you'd like to order a copy of The Engineered Engagement please follow the link below!

Friday, June 11, 2010

An ACFW Friday Five

In just over three months, the annual ACFW Conference will be in full-swing in Indianapolis. With great speakers like Tim Downs and James Scott Bell, Camy Tang and Margaret Daley, Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck, and so many others, the ACFW Conference is THE premier Christian Fiction Conference in the world.

Because this is Friday, I thought it might be fun to do an ACFW Conference Friday Five for you.

Here are Five Reasons I Love the ACFW Conference.

1. A chance to see friends I only see once a year. I love putting faces with names of people I've met through blogging, and I love catching up with folks I've met at previous conferences. Writing can be a lonely pursuit, and having friends along on the journey with you makes it easier.

2. Networking. (Author note: this is not self-serving schmoozing, which I loathe.) Networking involves being polite, expressing genuine interest in another person, and being available to help. Networking involves paying attention to other people, learning names, connecting with people who like the same things you do.

3. The classes. Some of the best teachers in the country. I've been blown away from the very first class every time.

4. The feeling of community, identity, and knowing there are other people who 'get it' when I talk about writing. Don't get me wrong, my family is great, but nobody gets novelists like other novelists.

5. The rejuvenation and encouragement to press on even when things are hard. Having great conference memories and the next conference to look forward to energizes me.

You can learn more about this year's ACFW Conference at

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Recipe Thursday

Banana Bread Recipe - I've been having a yen for banana bread. :)


3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed

1/3 cup melted butter

1 cup sugar (can easily reduce to 3/4 cup) (Also, Splenda can be substituted, but I always reduce the amt of Splenda vs. the amt. of sugar, because Splenda is very sweet.)

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour


No need for a mixer for this recipe. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4x8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


Okay, so I'm behind on my goal. I had set a goal for myself of having a completed novel by 7/4/2010. And I do, it's just not the one I thought! Before the Dawn took a lot more time than I thought it would.

So I have to recalculate. Either I need to change my wordcount per day, or I need to extend my deadline. I'm not sure what I will do. I'll have to see what is realistic, especially since I will have family in town again later this month.

Have you ever had to adjust your plans? How do you handle it? Is it frustrating, or are you a 'go with the flow' kinda person?

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Tip for Tuesday

 Today's tip for Tuesday concerns motivation. Not character motivation, but author motivation. If you find yourself flagging in the journey, growing weary, feeling flat and flat out of ideas, I suggest reading a book on craft.

I've been battling over the past couple of months, writing, rewriting. Analyzing, over-analyzing. For some reason, I've felt a lot of pressure with this book, pressure to make it GOOD. I've been having difficulty trusting my writing instincts, and doubts have abounded.

I'm happy to say I've battled through and the book is now being critiqued again by my girls, Katie and Georgiana.

Through the last couple of weeks especially, my motivation has been at a low ebb.

My remedy for this was to read a book on craft. Or two, or three. I just finished reading one book on how to write mysteries, as I am noodling a historical mystery idea or two. I'm currently perusing a favorite book of mine on how to write historical mysteries. Dixon's Goal, Motivations, and Conflict is next on my list, since I'm starting a new book.

As I've read, I find new ideas forming in my head. I'm getting rejuvenated, enthusiastic, ready to tuck into a new project that I'm excited about.

I needed a reminder of why I love writing, about my own motivations for crafting novels, and the encouragement of teachers and mentors in the form of craft books.

This approach might not work for everyone. In fact, I'm sure it won't. But for me, it was just the boost I needed.

How about you? How do you regenerate? Would reading a craft book help, or would it just add to the stress?

Monday, June 07, 2010

Gregarious Introverts

First, I'm BACK! After a couple of intense weeks, and a great visit from some family, I've rewritten nearly half of Before the Dawn an it is in the hands of my brilliant critique partners once again.

Second, I really missed blogging and visiting all my favorite blogs every day.

Third, I heard something interesting a few days ago. A blogger made the generalization that authors are gregarious introverts.

Gregarious: Fond of the company of others.
Introvert: A reserved or shy person.

As strange as this sounded, it made perfect sense to me, because I'm a gregarious introvert. I enjoy hanging out with friends, and I don't mind meeting new people. But I also need to be alone to recharge. I live very vividly in my own head and imagination.

When I'm in a group of strangers, unless I'm in a leadership role, I will usually be pretty quiet. I don't mind answering people's direct questions to me, but beyond that, I won't start too many conversations. (This is a drawback when sitting at a conference table with an editor I wanted to meet. In fact, a couple years ago, I provided transportation from the airport to the conference hotel for editors, and I hardly said a word. Fortunately, someone else was in the car who didn't have any trouble at all talking to editors.)

And yet, when I'm in a leadership opportunity, I have no trouble taking charge. In the past, I've been a high school history teacher, women's ministries leader, Sunday School teacher, and Bible study leader.  My friends would say I can be very gregarious. :)

So, are you a gregarious introvert? Does your outgoing-ness depend on the situation? Do you find it easy to meet new people?