Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas to All My Peeps

Merry Christmas Blogger Friends!! As we head into Christmas and the New Year, I hope you all are blessed and at peace. Maybe next year will bring new contracts, new agents, new friends. I know I have proposals at several publishers so 2012 should be interesting.

Here's a song if you're in the mood.

What things do you think might happen in 2012 for you?

I'm outtie (for a few weeks). See you next year!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Interview with Debut Author Camille Eide (and winners!)

Camille Eide graciously answered some questions I had for her. If you hadn't heard, her debut novella just released and is available in Kindle format.

1. Me: So Camille, what's your favorite part about writing romance? Probably the moment the hero knows he's got it bad for the heroine. :-) I like writing emotionally wrenching scenes and tingly moments. To dig a little deeper, I like to read, watch AND write about how a person finds himself drawn to something far beyond outer attraction, something that speaks to a deep need in him, that thing she completes in him. :-) Oooh! Romantic!

2. Me: When did you start writing? I started writing with the intent of publishing nearly 5 yrs ago. The first novel took a while to polish, but eventually attracted my agent and made it to a pub house board (where it sits to this day...) My second in the series will be shopping for a publishing home soon. This Christmas novella is my first book to be published, but not my first. So even though it only took a month (it's short & sweet), there was a lot of craft development that went before, and I think what helped me write it so quickly.

3. Me: Any advice for unpublished writers? Depends on where the unpub is at in the pursuit of your craft. If you KNOW you have a love of story and a knack for words, put a sticky note above your computer screen that says, "You have a God-given gift. If you need help with it, just ask." If you love to write and haven't reached Pub Heaven, please don't give up. Some seasons just feel like they go on and on (like Oregon winters that last 10 months) but hang in there. The only writers certain to fail are the ones who quit. None of us ever "arrive," no matter where we are in the process. Give yourself permission to be where you are, and keep at it.

4. Me: What's your favorite kind of chocolate? I LOVE LINDOR WHITE CHOCOLATE BALLS AND I'M NOT ALLOWED TO HAVE THEM. Thanks for asking, though. Sorry I yelled. I quit sugar a while back and I get a little cranky sometimes. (You all see how sweet and happy Jessica looks, right? Do you know she believes chocolate is one of the 4 food groups?) Wait, isn't it???

Thank you so much, Camille, for taking the time to answer my nosy questions. You can check out Camille's book HERE and she also has a book trailer.

Now for winners. Last week I posted about Camille and Linda's debut novellas. The winners of those are Jeanette Levellie and Linda Kage!! Congrats, ladies. ;-)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas is for Kissing! (book giveaways)

Actually, mistletoe is for kissing, but I really do enjoy Christmas romances. You might've seen my posts on Facebook, but two of my critique partners have Christmas romance novellas that just released. These ladies are fabulous writers and I'm so excited for them!


Polar Bear Plunge by Linda Glaz
Striving to put meaning back into her life after her husband’s death, Aleni Callan immerses herself in hospital work. Angry with God, she finds herself even angrier, when hero, Brice Taylor, author of The Human Shield, arrives in the Emergency Room with a concussion and hypothermia after participating in the Polar Bear Plunge. Aleni wants nothing to do with a man who willingly takes chances with his life.
Brice doesn’t understood how God could bring him through being a captive in Iraq, when he failed his troops so miserably. Writing about his escape brings fame he would rather avoid. And by meeting widow, Aleni Callan, his feelings of failure only increase.
Megan Callan with the help of her three-year-old grandson, Ty, scheme to bring Aleni and Brice together. And while the best laid plans often go awry, Megan isn’t one to accept no.

Linda Glaz:
I’m a wife and mother of three. I balance being a child of God while also being older than God. Hmmm, scary, but almost true. I’ve been blessed to have had an amazing life so far: Air Force meteorologist during Vietnam era, teaching karate and self-defense along with soccer for 25+ years. I sing and direct in church and community theatre musicals where this little old lady sounds more like the guys than the gals. Also scary, but true. I work in a physical therapy clinic three days a week to earn money to keep my writing afloat. My writing life is a 24/7 proposition. When not writing my own stories, I am an agent for Hartline Literary Agency. I wear so many different hats I’m surprised I wasn’t invited to the Royal wedding. Blessings to everyone, may your writing dreams all come true.

Savanna's Gift by Camille Eide
When Savanna gets a second chance at the love of her life, will the dream that once divided them get in the way?
Just before Christmas, Savanna Holt returns to the ski lodge where she once worked hoping to deliver her goddaughter to the child’s grandparents and flee the mountain resort before memories of one special Christmas there reminds her how ambition led her to make the worst mistake of her life.
But Savanna is stunned to discover Luke, the man whose heart she broke three years ago, now manages the resort. Seeing him reminds her of what she lost, but Luke wants no reminders of his hurt. He’s changed, but so has she.
When a blizzard traps her at the lodge over Christmas, she sees the forced proximity as a gift from God and is determined to win Luke back. Can she convince Luke she has changed and her interest isn't because of his position? And when her dream job beckons, will she sacrifice her dream for a second chance at love?

Camille Eide writes contemporary romantic women’s fiction and was a 2009 Zondervan First Novel Competition finalist and a 2011 Genesis winner. She lives in the evergreen Cascade foothills near Portland, Oregon with her hero of 28 years and is mom to three brilliant college-age kids. She’s a church secretary, a bassist, and a passably devoted fan of classic rock, Harleys, sappy flicks, muscle cars, and Jane Austen.
A cynic saved by grace, Camille sometimes remembers to turn that amazing grace around and use it on others. And either because of or in spite of that grace, she holds a PhD in Learning Stuff the Hard Way.
Camille is a member of the Oregon Christian Writers, The American Christian Fiction Writers and the Portland Chapter ACFW where she serves on the board as Treasurer. She has attended Mount Hermon, ACFW, and local OCW writing conferences. She belongs to Randy Ingermanson’s Columbia River Christian Writers and other Christian writing communities that cultivate literary excellence.
When she’s not pounding the keyboard, they let her play bass guitar and sing in the worship band. Camille knows how to do a bunch of random things like baking four dozen cinnamon rolls in a flash for a crowd of drooling young adults.

Now for the GIVEAWAY!

Tell me your fave Christmas movie/book of all time. For a second entry, tell me your favorite Christmas romance. I will draw two winners of both novellas. :-)
(oh, and these are e-books but downloading the Kindle app on your computer is SO easy)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

To Pick a Scabbing Wound

After my involvement in that accident, my grandma suggested I write out what happened as a healing exercise. I used to write in a diary all the time, but since getting married, that has fallen to the side. Even when I did it though, the words were subdued for fear that someone like me might walk into the room.

To write about something that hurts to think about seems to me rather like picking at a scabbing wound. But I think for some writing out their hurts aides in the healing process.

How do you release emotion? Do you think writing about a painful event is healthy or counterproductive? And do you journal? If so, what about?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

When Thanksgiving Doesn't Feel Right

Last weekend I was involved in a horrific accident. I walked away physically unscathed. The other person did not. Right now a young man is in ICU in serious condition.

I'm very thankful for my family, my friends, my health, but I can't help but wonder how this young man's family is feeling this Thanksgiving.

If you would, please pray for my emotions and for this young man (Larry), that he'd fully recover.

For those of you on a mountain peak, may your Thanksgiving be wonderful and merry and full of good food. And to those of you in the valley right now, I feel you and hope you'll see a sunny spot where you can rest awhile. Perhaps finding a blessing to hold close until your journey brings you back to the mountain top.

Where are you right now? Have you ever been in a dark spot on a holiday? How did you end up leaving that place?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Welcome Debut Author Lisa Jordan!

Lakeside Reunion: Bed-and-breakfast owner Lindsey Porter prays she won’t run into Stephen Chase when she returns to Shelby Lake. Five years ago, the cop jilted her to marry another woman, and Lindsey fled town. But no sooner does she hit city limits than Stephen pulls her over for a broken taillight. Despite the past, he’s still able to stir up Lindsey’s old feelings for him. Now a widower and single dad, Stephen recognizes a second chance when he sees one. And he’ll do anything to make Lindsey trust in God and take a risk for love—again. Read an excerpt of Lakeside Reunion

Today I'd like to welcome debut Love Inspired author Lisa Jordan! Below is a short interview with this lovely author.

Why did you choose to be a writer?
When I was 16, I read The Promise by Danielle Steele. The happily ever after ending made my heart sigh. At that moment, I knew I wanted to create the same heart-sighing promise of hope and happily ever after for my readers.

Where is the worst place you've ever been stuck waiting?
A local regional airport for 15 hours!! I was flying to Florida in February 2009 for a My Book Therapy retreat. The airport is on a hilltop, and at that elevation, it was snowing so hard the runway was too icy for planes to land. My flight kept getting delayed. Finally, via cell phone, Hubby convinced me to talk sternly to them to drive me to a larger airport and pay for my flights to Florida. I had arrived at 5:00 a.m. for my original flight and finally left at 9:00 p.m. to be driven to another airport. The small regional airport lacked vending machines or a restaurant.

What is the most common compliment people give you?
I don’t look my age. Many people can’t believe I have an 18-year-old and a 21-year-old.

What’s one thing you would rather pay someone to do than do yourself?
Grocery shop and cook my meals. I used to love to cook, but now I’d rather spend that time writing.

What do you think is the secret to a happy marriage?
Shared faith, unconditional love, an abundance of grace, communication, supporting one another, and saying “I’m sorry.”

I’m holding a scavenger hunt to promote my Lakeside Reunion release. Plus, blog commenters on my blog hop will be put in a drawing for fun prizes—breakfast basket, Love Inspired Authors basket, autographed copies of Lakeside Reunion. Visit my Lakeside Reunion Contest page for more information.

The token for this blog is a squirrel.

Bio: Heart, home and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories that feature both comes naturally to her. She has been writing contemporary Christian romance for more than a decade. Her debut novel, Lakeside Reunion, will be released in November by Love Inspired, followed by her second novel, Lakeside Family, in August 2012 by Love Inspired. Happily married for twenty-two years, Lisa and her husband have two young adult sons. When she isn’t writing or caring for children in her in-home childcare business, Lisa enjoys family time, romantic comedies, good books, crafting with friends and feeding her NCIS addiction. Visit her at to learn more about her writing.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

And Now, Live on the Silver Screen....

It's just little ol' me and my book trailer.

One of the great things about the changes happening in the publishing industry is the introduction of the book trailer. I definitely think it has great potential to drive sales...if used in the right way.

I have seen incredibly boring trailers, long-winded and dry. I've seen okay ones. And then I've seen ones that made me click over to read the book blurb.

Making a book trailer is hard work. Will anyone buy a book because of its trailer? Who knows? But I feel like a great, hooky trailer will generate interest in looking at the story. Which can lead to sales or at least some kind of buzz.

Below is my trailer. I had a really fun time making it, even though I'm not sure I utilized everything the best way. You can also check out my good friend Anita's blog where she hosts a Trailer Thursday every week.

Have you ever made a trailer? Thought about it? What do you look for in one, and do you think a great trailer could prompt you to explore the story more?

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Path to Publication

I'm at work all day today but wanted to give Loretta Boyett a shout-out. She graciously invited me to guest post on her blog this week. If you're interested in hearing a more detailed account of the events leading up to The Call, you can read about it HERE.

Hope you all have an awesome weekend!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Set the Hook and Reel that Fishie In!

Most of you know my husband is a fishing show host. The man loves fishing. I don't really go with him, but I hear enough lingo to know if you want to catch a fish, you have to set the hook.

Setting the hook involves forceful action: You've got to yank the rod at the right moment. Too soon and the fish gets away. Too late and the fish swallows the hook.

Books are kind of the same way. We start our chapters with a hooky first line, but do we end the chapter that way? On a conflict or a question that the reader must read on to discover more? I think the end of each chapter is a solid place for setting a hook.

And while the first few pages are great bait for getting a nibble, it's the hook setting that will allow you to reel your fish in.

How does your book end? Do you think the reader is reeled into your author boat? Which authors have reeled you in? And did it happen on the first nibble of their books?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I'm a Guest!!

I have a guest post up over at Seekerville, the IT place for all writers, pubbed and unpubbed. If you've never visited, I highly recommend making them a daily stop.
In the meantime, if you have time, hit me up over there today. :-)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chocolate for Dinner? Why That Sounds Sublime.

I'm being interviewed over at the lovely Jill Kemerer's today. Stop by if you have time.

WINNER!!! Robyn Campbell, you are the winner of A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman. :-) I need your addy, please.

Thanks Tori for the Versatile blogger award! I can't play the game now, but maybe soon. Thank you!

I also have a thanks going out to Linda Rohrbrough, a fellow agency-mate who makes wonderful writer clocks. I met her at the conference and she kindly sent me one.

What are your plans for today? Any special items on the menu?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

You Say Potato

And I say Pah-tah-to. (heeheee, not really!)

Better is niggling at me as I start a new WIP.

What does it mean when I'm told to get better? Better at craft? Better at storytelling? Who determines what better is?

I believe there is something intangible to a great story. A few posts back I wrote how I met with an editor and he encouraged me to keep getting better. Which I absolutely want to do.

The thing about better is that...well...."One man's trash is another man's treasure."

So what I think is better, someone else might think is no good.

How do you decide or know if you're "better"? How do you gauge the worth of a book?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ummmm.....I Heard You the First Time

As you all know, I just finished my line edits a few weeks ago. One thing that immediately jumped out at me was the same word scrawled on page after page.


As in, repetitive.

Now, this is a manuscript I finished the rough draft of in 2007. This thing has been through the ringer. I've edited and revised it a million times.

But I was still being repetitive.

Thank goodness for editors!

What a great reminder for me when I start my next story. I see repetitiveness in books already and sometimes it can be annoying. Repetition is not necessarily using the same words or repeating a sentence. For example, I read a book recently which was a good story with some sweet romance, but I felt like every chapter was reiterating the inner conflicts of the main characters.

The reader doesn't need to be told over and over why the hero and heroine can't be together. I find myself doing this in my own writing. Using the character's internal narrative to remind the reader what the conflicts are. I don't think it's effective. The reader will remember. Use external conflict to heighten the inner conflict, but repeating the inner conflict is not necessarily a hook.

Will I take my own advice? I'm trying!

Do you find yourself repeating the conflicts in your stories? What about telling the reader what you want them to know, rather than using scenes? Any advice for someone like me who feels like the queen of repetition at the moment?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

From the Mouth of an Editor

Get Better.

I'd had all my appointments on Friday so Saturday afternoon, I wandered into the appointment room at the ACFW conference thinking that it would be smart to see if there were any more openings.

There was one, a mentoring appointment with longtime editor, Andy Meisenheimer. I decided to do it though my plan of what to talk with him about was pretty sketchy.

Appointment time came. I popped into the room, shook his hand, sat down (maybe not in that order but I can't remember now) and then frankly told him I wasn't sure what to be mentored on but it seemed like a good idea. I asked him for whatever advice he thought a new author should have.

The poor guy seemed startled at first but he recovered and gave me some of the best advice I've ever heard.

Get Better.

I highly recommend a mentoring appointment if you ever go to a conference. Meisenheimer was knowledgeable, encouraging and I just overall really enjoyed talking to him. I left the meeting with a lot to chew on.

Are you striving to "Get Better"? Do you ever think some authors get stuck in mediocre writing? How do you spur yourself to get better?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Heart Revealed By Julie Lessman

The ring on her hand belongs to one man …

but her heart belongs to another.

As a battered woman, Emma Malloy fled Dublin for Boston ten years ago, seeking shelter for a heart badly bruised by both her husband and guilt. But when she falls in love with Sean O’Connor, a man who wrestles with demons of his own, fear and shame almost destroy her … until she is finally set free by a heart revealed.

If you want love stories that curl your toes, then you'll adore Julie Lessman's books.

I dove into this book because I'd really been waiting to read Emma's story. Scarred by an abusive husband, Emma deals with deep self-worth issues. But she's also a beautiful person who tries to let her weaknesses and fears bring her closer to God.

If you're just looking for a straight romance, Julie's books are more than that. I saw her at the conference and told her I'd noticed how her books are moving into more of a saga-type read, rather than just a straightforward romance between hero and heroine.

With this shift in her stories (which really probably began in the third book of her first series, The Daughters of Boston), I've marveled at the strength of Julie's characterization. Especially with the females of the story.

I read this book on the way to and back from the conference. I both laughed and cried during it.

In my opinion, A Heart Revealed is one of her best books yet.

Have you ever read a saga? Have you read Julie's books? If so, which one is your favorite and why?

Leave a comment if you'd like to be entered to win A Hope Undaunted, the first in the Winds of Change series.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Deep Cover by Sandra Orchard

Maintaining his cover cost undercover cop Rick Gray the woman he loved. Sweet Ginny Bryson never really knew Rick. He never gave her the chance. Not then, and not now, when he's back with a new alias to gather evidence against Ginny's uncle. The man's crimes led to Rick's partner's death, and Rick wants justice to be served. But his investigation is stirring up trouble, and Ginny is smack-dab in the middle. Someone wants Ginny to pay the price for what her uncle has done. But how can Rick protect her without blowing his cover, jeopardizing his assignment...and risking both their lives?

Deep Cover is the first book in the series, Undercover Cops: Fighting for justice puts their lives—and hearts—on the line.

Book 2 ~ Shades of Truth ~ March 2012
A compassionate youth worker fighting to preserve her dying father’s legacy battles the justice-driven detective who threatens her mission and her heart.

Book 3 ~ Dose of Deception ~ TBA (title tentative)
A nurse. An undercover cop. A killer who’ll stop at nothing to avoid being caught.

Sandra Orchard lives in rural Ontario, Canada where inspiration abounds for her romantic suspense novels set in the fictional Niagara town she's created as their backdrop. Married with three grown children, when not writing, she enjoys hanging out with family, brainstorming new stories with fellow writers, and hiking or kayaking in God's beautiful creation. She’s an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, The Word Guild, and several RWA chapters.

You can find her at her blog or website. You can buy Deep Cover HERE.

I cyber-met Sandra a few years ago when she responded to one of my questions on a writing loop. She was knowledgeable and always helpful. I'm excited to post that her debut from Love Inspired Suspense released this month. I really enjoyed reading it and thought her premise was genius.

That is, how does a Christian undercover policeman handle the lying aspect of his job?

To be honest, I've never even considered this before.

Sandra has written a fast-paced read with smart hooks and sweet romance. You can find her book on Walmart shelves still, I bet! Or better yet, meet Sandra in person at the ACFW conference this week.

Have you ever known an undercover policeman? What do you think about lying, and is it ever okay?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cool News and Linkage

I had some news and links I wanted to share.

First, one of my best friends ever just recently sold her book to Abram's imprint Amulet!!! Anita is a superb writer who first guest posted here in 2008. You can read Anita's Call Story Here. Woohoo, Anita! I know there are many more sales in your future!

Secondly, one of my amazing critique partners Karla Akins just had a non-fiction book released. She's done a wonderful job with this book. If you homeschool or are Canadian, you may be interested in checking it out Here.

So, E-Readers are becoming more popular.

ACFW is so close! I'm going, are you? line edits arrived. At first I felt intimidated but as I'm going through them, I'm really enjoying it and finding some great nuggets from the editor (thank you!).

Do you use an e-reader? Are you going to ACFW?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Doctor's Lady by Jody Hedlund

They vowed to keep their marriage in name only.
But when the unexpected happens on the grueling journey west . . .
Their carefully constructed partnership will be put to the ultimate test.

Priscilla White knows she’ll never be a wife or mother and feels God’s call to the mission field.

Dr. Eli Ernest is back from Oregon Country only long enough to raise awareness of missions to the natives before heading out West once more. But then Priscilla and Eli both receive news from the mission board: No longer will they send unmarried men and women into the field. Left scrambling for options, the two realize the other might be the answer to their needs.

Priscilla and Eli agree to a partnership, a marriage in name only that will allow them to follow God’s leading into the mission field. But as they journey west, this decision will be tested by the hardships of the trip and by the unexpected turnings of their hearts.

After finishing Jody's debut The Preacher's Wife, I've been eagerly awaiting her next book.

The Doctor's Lady is newly released and I devoured it. The writing was great and Jody did an amazing job of bringing the characters and setting to life. As a young reader, I used to love reading the historical romances featuring Native Americans and their lifestyle. I found the accounts fascinating.

While I enjoyed the romance in The Doctor's Lady, what I really found myself appreciating (and what served as my biggest hook), ended up being the incredible details Jody incorporated. Things like food, smells, lodging and the dangers found on the trail. I just had to know who would survive the journey and how it would end.

Kudos to Jody for writing a wonderful book based on the true story of the first white women to ever cross into Oregon!!

Jody can be found at her blog, her website, facebook and twitter.

Don't forget to enter her Trailblazer Contest!

So, you now know that I adore western historicals. What time periods do you enjoy? Who is your favorite historical author?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Waiting On Line Edits

Right now I'm waiting on line edits for my soon-to-be-pubbed (eeek!!!) book.

I did a set of revisions before contract and a set after, but now the story is being sent to a different line editor. Even though authors from the same line gave me some encouragement about these edits, I'm still nervous.

What will be changed? Will the editor like the story or hate it? Will the editor cross out all my "was"s?

The suspense of not knowing what will happen is driving me to chocolate.

Are you waiting for anything right now? How do you handle the suspense of the unknown? Are you prepared for the changes an editor might ask you to make?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Talking With Readers

One thing I've loved about my new job is talking books with one of my co-workers. She's a big reader who ranges from literary to all things Harlequin. The perspective of someone who reads but doesn't write is fresh for me. Now another co-worker started reading a book and was telling me how mad she was at a male character over how he treated the heroine.

The depth of her immersion in the story was inspiring for me because last week she'd mentioned that the story was confusing at times due to an abundance of characters.

Yet that didn't stop her from rooting for the heroine.

How do I make a story like that? One that, despite its weaknesses, ensares a reader to the end?

There are lots of rules on how to do it, but sometimes I think it comes down to voice.

What was the last book you read that put you in tears or made you mad at a character? Any insight on how the writer did it? Do you talk books with nonwriters?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Use Your Words

Have you ever heard a parent tell their toddler to use their words? That's how I feel about writing. This Song captured me partly because of the lyrics.

Lord, make me a rainbow, I'll shine down on my mother
She'll know I'm safe with you when she stands under my colors

Who would've thought forever could be severed
by the sharp knife of a short life

The writer uses words to make metaphors that create interesting images. She created a mood with her words, which is so important for us to do in our books.

Do your words evoke the mood you're going for in a particular scene? What about your metaphors? Have you ever heard this song before?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Next Big Thing

After Harry Potter we knew something else would be big, but what? Then suddenly Twilight appeared and for years captured the imagination of our world.
Now Twilight is approaching the end of its movie run and I can't help but wonder what will be the next big thing.

Do you think the next huge book will be YA? Is there room for anything else to get so big? Is there something big right now that I don't know about yet?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Why I Think Napoleon Dynamite Rocks

There are a lot of reasons why I love the movie Napoleon Dynamite.

Those who hate it might find this hard to believe, but Napoleon Dynamite is, at heart, about the deep value of relationships and how they can change us. The movie uses Understatement in a major way, which I think makes it slow-paced and boring at the beginning. If you don't finish the movie, it will be hard to like it, imo.

At the beginning of the movie, it's as though the major characters are muffled. Their emotions, their expressions, even the tones of their voices contain little emotion.

This is where Irony comes into play.

Secondary characters at first appear more alive than main ones. But as the story unfolds, as conflicts are introduced and relationships forged, the primary characters become the ones I root for. And by the end of the movie, a very interesting thing happens.

The discovered relationship and connection between the main characters has changed them so deeply that they become real and rounded. Those secondary characters who seemed more relatable at the beginning are actually flat stereotypes.

I also love the element of Surprise (aka freshness). When Napoleon's brother meets the girl he's been talking to on the internet, you're in for a surprise. There's a wonderful freshness in that scene, in how their love transcends the superficiality of culture.

Besides the beasting soundtrack and fantastic use of Irony, Understatement, and Freshness, Napoleon Dynamite is a winner in my house because it takes the everyday blahness of (some people's)life and shows how friendship can change everything.

What did you think of Napoleon Dynamite? Anything to add to this? If you didn't like the movie, why not? What do you think now?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Please Pray

Right now I'm driving to Minnesota to see my Grandma. She's been very sick. I'll be offline for the next week, probably.
Please pray for her and for safe travels for me. Thank you!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Confessions of a Peeved Reader

I have a confession to make.

As a reader, there was one type of scene I always skimmed. Most romances, especially the historicals, would have this kind of scene and without fail, I'd skip it. I remember it being a pet peeve of mine.

The scene always felt overdrawn, long, overly detailed with nothing exciting happening (lack of conflict)...The wedding scene.

Yup. I know I'm probably in the minority but there's my confession: I hate reading wedding scenes.

What's your confession?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Life in the Borderland

I've been traveling the world of Writerdom for many years now and I've traversed through different lands (Query Land andAgent Land), but I've never been on the border before.
It's the strange and shadowy place between Unpublished and Published. There are befuddling sights in this region and new sounds. People from both sides mingle here and I'm seeing things from both the same and a new perspective. (Dichotomy, anyone?)

What's your region like halfway into 2011? Are you enjoying it or counting the minutes until you escape? Have you ever felt like you belonged somewhere other than where you find yourself now?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Working on Revisions

After I got the call I was sent another revision letter. It was a mix of overarching notes on the story (things the editors want clarified or changed) and specific thoughts on different pages.

The overarching notes were a little overwhelming at first. I had to sit and think about them. So I did the page edits first because I knew when I went in to fix other stuff it would change the page numbers. I'm almost done with my revisions and am pretty sure I'll have them in by deadline, which is so freaky (the fact that I have a deadline, eeek!) I can barely believe it.

Is there a certain way you'd handle revisions? Do you use any kind of organizational tools like Excel?

For a great, in-depth post on handling revisions on a contracted story, check out Jody Hedlund's post.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A New Agent in Town and Linkage

Last week I found out that my long-time critique partner Linda Glaz was just made an agent at Hartline Literary!!! Woohoo! So apparently for years I've been rubbing shoulders with an agent in the making. :-)
Linda is a kind and funny person. She's very savvy regarding the industry and craft and she loves romance. If you're looking for an agent to query, I'd recommend Linda. She mostly loves any subgenre of romance and suspense, but she'll never turn down a great story regardless of genre. The guidelines for querying Linda are HERE.
Congrats Linda!

As for linkage, there some news on the digital royalties publishing front. Here are a few interesting links.

Harlequin Raises E-book Royalties
Agent Kristin Nelson's Take So Far
Dear Author Asks Harlequin
Some Other Publishers Royalty Rates
Brenda Hiatt's Show Me The Money (this site is a good representation of what publishers pay on average)

What do you think about digital royalties? Had you heard any of this yet? Did you find your targeted publisher on Hiatt's list?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Getting Visual

A cool thing about Love Inspired is that authors are asked to give input into the covers of their books.

The uncool thing is that I'm so NOT visual.

Some writers have pictures of their scenes and characters taped to the walls. I don't. I have a vague idea, so when I was asked to supply pictures for cover ideas, I was befuddled. Thank goodness I have a friend who is the Queen of Visuality (you know who you are!). She supplied me with links to helpful websites where I could brainstorm who exactly my characters look like.

Are you visual? Do you already have cover ideas? If you were a character, how would you be physically described?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My Call: The Journey

I sold to Love Inspired Historical!!! Here's how it happened:

"You should write a book. You'd make more money doing that."

In 2006 my editor at the newspaper I freelanced for told me this. In that moment, a lightbulb went off in my head. Write for money? Sure, I'd written stories all my life, but to actually write a book and be paid for it was a concept that had never occurred to me.

That same year, I started a historical romance. Why historical? Because Love Inspired was launching a historical line in 2007 and I was aiming for that. I also love reading historical romances.

"The characters should be talking by now."

So said agent Steve Laube at my first writer's conference in 2007. He'd gotten to page 7 and my heroine was still thinking of backstory. I made every newbie mistake with that first manuscript. So I read articles and did my best to make the manuscript shine. Then I submitted it to agents. Form rejections. I decided to submit it to Love Inspired Historical. Weeks later, the rejection came back. "Your writing is not strong enough." Granted, I'd only sent a very poor synopsis, but that editor was right and though it stung, I knew I needed help.

"To conclude, I want to stress that you have written a beautiful and intriguing novel."

I decided to send my historical to Harlequin's Critique Service. While it was there, I started a new book. As I wrote, I realized how bad my first story was. I determined that I'd probably have to shelve it. That was okay, because my new story was so exciting! I was sure it would be the one. Finally the historical critique came back. It rocked! The line above is the one reason I decided to keep submitting the story. I put the historical away for a while though because I'd finaled with my contemporary and it was not until 2008 that I began querying the historical again.

"Project Under Consideration"

An agent was interested! I sent it to the agent and continued writing and querying. After many other agent rejections, this same agent still had the story. Finally, a year and a half later, the agent rejected the full, citing some slowness at the beginning (it was slow). A little disheartened, I decided to move onto the publisher and resubmit (remember I first subbed it in 2007). Thanks to the contest I'd finaled in with my second story, I'd developed a preference for a specific editor at Love Inspired. I sent a query and synopsis to her. And waited.

This is where my call becomes very typical but no less exciting. She requested a partial. Then revisions and a full. Then revisions again and a resubmit. And then.....THE E-MAIL. :-)

I was at work all day when it came so I didn't see it until that night. I'm still wavering between shock and joy!

I learned a lot from this journey.

1. Don't be afraid to revise.
2. Be persistent. If you don't submit, you can't move forward.
3. Develop relationships. It was through finaling and submitting that I discovered an editor who found promise in my writing.
4. Never give up.

If you give up, then nothing will ever happen.

So there it is, a very long post about my five year journey to publication. The book is slotted to come out in April 2012.

How do you think you'll react when you get the call? Are you submitting yet? Any questions?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Behind the Badge by Susan Sleeman (You can win stuff!)

I first met Susan a few years ago at a Tampa meeting. She was really friendly and nice. After going through some publishing glitches that might turn a writer's hair gray, she's now flourishing in the publishing world. Her new book Behind the Badge is out this month. I read the excerpt and plan to buy the story because it sounds great! I always love a sexy cop hero.

Enter to win a copy of Susan Sleeman's Behind the Badge and a $50 Amazon gift card!

Susan Sleeman here. Behind the Badge, my second romantic suspense book for Love Inspired Suspense will release on June 6th and in honor of all of you, the readers, I am hosting a special contest on my website for the month of June.

Let’s face it. Without you, the wonderful readers, books would not exist and I wouldn’t be able to wake up looking forward to a job that is fresh and exciting each and every day. Praise God for this incredible opportunity!

Now back to the contest. All you have to do is read the excerpt below then go to my WEBSITE and answer the following question. That's it. You're entered to win.

If you'd like to sign up for my mailing list to learn of other contests in the future you can do that at the same time, too. Full contest rules are on the entry page. Remember only one entry per person.

QUESTION: In what city did Russ serve as a homicide detective?

SUSAN SLEEMAN is a best-selling author of romantic suspense and mystery novels. She grew up in a small Wisconsin town where she spent her summers reading Nancy Drew and developing a love of mystery and suspense books. Today, she channels this enthusiasm into writing romantic suspense and mystery novels and hosting the popular internet website

Her books include Nipped in the Bud, High-Stakes Inheritance, Behind the Badge, and The Christmas Witness. Also watch for the first two romantic suspense books in her Justice Agency series coming from Love Inspired suspense in 2012 and featuring a private investigations firm specializing in helping those who traditional law enforcement has failed.

Susan currently lives in Florida, but has had the pleasure of living in nine states. Her husband is a church music director and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law and an adorable grandson.

To learn more about Susan visit her website, Facebook , or Twitter.

Behind the Badge


A killer is threatening the life of rookie cop Sydney Tucker's sister-unless Sydney turns over evidence from a drug bust. But she doesn't have the evidence. Not that the thug believes her. Now she and the sibling in her care are under the watchful eye of Logan Lake police chief Russ Morgan…but will his protection be enough?

The killer is closing in, picking off the people and places that mean the most to Sydney. A list that now includes Russ. To protect her loved ones, will she pay the ultimate price-her life?

The Morgan Brothers - Bk 2

Love Inspired Suspense
June 6, 2011
ISBN-10: 0373444478
ISBN-13: 978-0373444472


Chapter One

Gunshots split the inky darkness.

Deputy Sydney Tucker hit the cold ground, a jagged rock slashing into her forehead on the way down. She reached for her service weapon. Came up empty handed. She'd stopped after work to check on the construction of her townhouse and left her gun and cell phone in the car.

Dumb, Sydney. Really dumb. Now what're you gonna do?

Inching her head above knee-high grass, she listened. The keening whistle of the wind died, leaving the air damp and heavy with tension but silence reigned.

Had she overreacted? Could be target practice. But at night? Maybe. Hunters did crazy things sometimes.

Footfalls pounded from below like someone charging through the brush. No. Two people. Maybe a chase. One person after another. A loud crash, branches snapping.

"What're you doin', man," a panicked male voice traveled through the night. "No! Don't shoot! We can work this out."

Three more gunshots rang out. A moan drifted up the hill.

Not target practice. Someone had been shot.

Sydney lurched to her feet, dizziness swirling around her. Blood dripped into her eyes. She wiped it away, blinked hard and steadied herself on a large rock while peering into the wall of darkness for the best escape route.

Heavy footfalls crunched up the gravel path.

"I know you're here, Deputy Tucker," a male voice, disguised with a high nasally pitch, called out. "We need to talk about this. C'mon out."

Yeah, right. Come out and die. Not hardly.

Praying, pleading for safety, she scrambled deeper into the scrub. Over rocks. Through grass tangling her feet. Her heart pounded in her head, drowning the prayers with fear.

"I'm losing patience, Deputy," he called again in that strange voice. "You're not like Dixon. He had it coming. You don't."

Dixon? Did he mean the man she arrested for providing alcohol to her teenage sister and for selling drugs? Was that what this was about?

Rocks skittered down the incline. The shooter was on the move again. No time to think. She had to go. Now!

Blindly she felt her way past shrubs, over uneven ground. Dried leaves crunched underfoot. Branches slapped her face and clawed at her arms, but she stifled her cries of pain.

"I hear you, Deputy."

She wrenched around to determine his location. A protruding rock caught her foot, catapulting her forward. She somersaulted through the air. Her knee slammed into the packed earth and she crashed down the hill. Wrapping arms around her head for protection, she came to a stop, breath knocked out of her chest, lying flat on her back in a thick stand of weeds.

"So you want to play it that way, do you Deputy? Fine. Just remember, you can run, but you can't hide. I will find you. This will be resolved one way or another." His disembodied laugh swirled into the night.

The darkness pressed closer. Blinding. Overwhelming. Terrifying.

She was easy prey. Even with her bulletproof vest, a few rounds fired in her direction would take her out. She had to get up.

She rose to her knees, but pain knifed into her knee, keeping her anchored to the ground.

Lord, please don't let me die like this. Give me the strength to move. I need to live for Nikki. She's only seventeen. She has no one.

Sydney uncurled and came to a standing position. Taking a few halting steps, she tested the pain. Nearly unbearable. But she could-no she had to do this for her sister.

Thinking of Nikki, she gritted her teeth and set off, moving slowly, taking care not to make a sound.

Out of the darkness, a hand shot out. Clamped over her mouth.

Screams tore from her throat, but died behind fingers pressed hard against her lips.

A muscled arm jerked her against a solid chest and dragged her deep into the brush.

God, please, no.

She twisted, arched her back, pushing against arms like iron bands.

She dug her heels into the ground, but he was too strong. He kept going deeper into the brush before settling them both on the ground behind a large boulder.

"Relax Sydney, it's Russ Morgan," Logan Lake's Police Chief whispered, his lips close to her ear.

Russ Morgan? What was he doing here?

"Sorry about the hand." His tone said she was nothing more than a stranger instead of someone she'd known for years. "I didn't want you to alert the shooter with a scream. I'm gonna remove my hand now. Nod if you understand me."

She let all of her relief escape in a sharp jerk of her head. His fingers dropped away.

"Once the shooter rounded that curve, you would've been a goner," he whispered while still firmly holding her. "Good thing a neighbor reported gunshots."

Sydney started to shiver and breathed deep to steady her galloping pulse. Air rushed into her lungs. She was alive, but barely. No thanks to her own skills.

"You okay?" he asked, his breath stirring her hair.

"Yes." She willed her body to stop shaking and eased out a hiss of disappointment in her performance as a deputy. "How long have you been here?"

"Long enough to hear the shooter claim he's hit Dixon and is coming after you next," he whispered again, but urgency lit his voice and rekindled her fear. "This have to do with your arrest of Carl Dixon the other day?"

"I don't know," she whispered back. "I just stopped to check on the construction of my townhouse on my way home from work."

"Off duty, huh? Explains why you don't have your weapon drawn."

"I left my duty belt in my car." She waited for his reaction to not carrying, but he simply gave a quick nod as footfalls grated against gravel.

"Shh, he's about to pass us." Russ leaned forward and drew his gun with his free hand, but didn't release his hold on her.

Crunching steps came within a few feet of their location. Halted.

"Can you feel me breathing down your neck, Deputy? I'm inches from finding you." He didn't know the accuracy of his words.

She felt Russ's breathing speed up, upping her concern and washing away the brief blanket of security his arms provided. Adrenaline urged her to move. To keep from panicking, she focused on Russ's unwavering weapon.

The shooter took a few steps closer. Her heart thumped, threatening to leave her chest. Russ tightened his hold as if he knew she wanted to bolt.

The shooter spun sending gravel flying then headed up the path.

As his footsteps receded, she tried to relax taut muscles. The warmth from Russ's body helped chase out her fear and the chill of the night. Thank God Russ was here. If he hadn't come.

She refused to go there. God had watched over her. Provided rescue, just not in the form she'd have chosen.

Not only was Russ an officer from the city police force-a team often in competition with the county sheriff's department where she worked-but a man she'd had a crazy crush on in high school. A man whose rugged good looks still turned women's heads.

She let out a long sigh.

"I know this's awkward," he whispered, "but hang tight for a few more minutes. We need to wait for him to head back down the hill."

She wanted to protest and suggest they flee now, but not Russ. He thought clearly. Taking off now gave the killer the advantage of higher ground, making them moving targets. They'd have to sit like this until he passed them again.

If they made it out of here, which the approaching footfalls told her wasn't at all certain.

They pounded closer. The shooter moved at a quick clip this time as if he thought she'd gotten away and he was fleeing. Or maybe he was heading to her car to lay in wait for her.

As the footsteps receded again, she felt Russ's arm slacken.

"Time to roll," he whispered. "Stay here."

"But I-"

"You have a backup?" He referred to a back up gun officers often carry.

She shook her head.

"Then wait here." He gave her the hard stare that'd made him famous around town and crept toward the path.

She leaned against the boulder and wrapped her arms around the warm circle on her waist where he'd held her. Without his warmth, she couldn't quit shaking. The reality of the night froze her inner core.

She should listen to Russ. Lay low. Wait until he apprehended the killer.

That was the safe thing to do.

The easy thing to do.

The wrong thing to do.

Not for everyone, but for an officer of the law, letting a shooter escape without trying to stop him wasn't an option. Even if that shooter had her in his sights, she'd make her way to her car for her gun and help Russ stop this maniac before he hurt anyone else.


Near the ditch, Russ came to a stop and fought to catch his breath. Taillights on a mud splattered dirt bike roared up the trail. He'd warned the suspect to stop, but short of shooting him in the back, Russ couldn't stop him from fleeing into the dark.

At least he'd accomplished his primary objective. To protect Sydney and keep her alive. Now he needed to alert his men and the sheriff's office to the suspect's whereabouts.

He lifted his shoulder mic and ordered a unit from his office to stake out the end of the trail for the motorcycle and an ambulance in case Dixon survived. Then he asked dispatch to patch him through to the county sheriff's department to make sure they knew he'd taken charge of the scene so none of their hotshot deputies arrived with the hope of usurping control.

He turned on his Maglight and headed up the hill. The beam of light skipped over gravel and lush plants lining the winding path. Midway up, rustling brush stopped him cold. He'd left Sydney higher up. Nearer the lake.

Was a second shooter hoping to ambush him?

He flipped off his light and sought protection behind a tree. His breath came in little pulses in the unusually cold air for a typical Oregon fall. Adrenaline with little time to ebb away came roaring back, but even as the noise grew louder, he resisted the urge to take action.

Maybe it was Sydney. The Sydney he used to know wouldn't have listened to his directive and stayed put. She'd trounce down the hill, her chin tilted at the same insolent angle as when he told her he didn't return her crazy crush her freshman year of high school. Not that he'd wanted to send a beautiful, lively girl like her away. He could easily have dated her, but he was four years older, in college. With their age difference, it wouldn't have been right.

Bushes at the path's edge shook then parted. Slowly, like a sleek panther, Sydney slipped out. He watched until she stood tall on those incredibly long legs he'd admired since she was sixteen before lowering his gun and aiming his flashlight at her.

She jumped. Peered up at him, an impudent look planted on her face. This was the Sydney he'd known as a teen and heaven help him, in less than thirty minutes, she'd sparked his interest again.

"Care to shine that somewhere other than my face." She perched her hand over her eyes, warding off the glare.

He moved the light but not before he caught a good look at a gaping wound running from her hairline to eyebrow, covered in congealed blood. He lifted his hand to check out her injury, but stopped. He wouldn't probe a wound on one of his men's faces. As a fellow LEO-law enforcement officer-he wouldn't treat Sydney any differently.

"I told you to stay put." He infused his words with authority.

"I wanted to help. Wish I'd listened. I tripped over the body." She held out blood-covered hands. Her eyes watered as if she might cry.

Man. Don't do that. Don't fall apart. He couldn't remain detached if she started crying. He'd have to empathize, maybe give her a reassuring pat on the arm. Maybe feel her pain and resurrect all the reasons he'd left his homicide job in Portland.

He changed his focus. Nodded at the brush. "Show me the body."

As a faint whine of sirens spiraled in the distance, she limped into tall grass, a grimace of pain marring her beautiful face. He followed, illuminating the area ahead of her. About ten feet in, she suddenly stopped. He shone his light a few feet ahead of her.

Diffused rays slid over a young male lying on his back. Russ swung the beam to the man's face landing on open eyes staring into the blackness above.

Sydney gasped and swung around him. She rushed toward the main path. Even though Russ knew it was a lost cause, he bent down to check for a pulse. No question, this man hadn't made it and no question about his identity. Carl Dixon, a man every LEO in the area knew from his frequent blips onto the police radar and the most recent arrest for selling drugs.

All that ended with three gunshots to the chest at close range from what Russ could see with his flashlight. Once they thoroughly processed the scene, he'd know better. But first, they needed to vacate the area before further contaminating the scene.

He found Sydney near the path, gaze fixed in the distance, hands clasped on her hips and exhaling long breaths as if trying to expel what she'd just seen.

Haunted eyes peered at him. "He's dead, right?"


"And what about the killer?"

"Couldn't catch him. He took off on a dirt bike."

Disappointment crowded out the fear on her face. "Did you at least see him?"

"From the back. He was my height or a little taller, but lean. Wore a black stocking cap. The bike has a plate so it must be street legal. I caught the first few digits."

"That's something, then."

Russ didn't want to tell her it would do little for them in terms of searching DMV records as three digits would return thousands of bikes, but he didn't think she could take any more bad news so he kept quiet. "Let's head down to the parking lot."

He gave her the flashlight and urged her to take the lead down the steep hill. Once on solid concrete, she handed it back to him. Holding it overhead, he watched her closely for dizziness or other impairments from her fall. He saw nothing out of the ordinary, but a head injury could mean a concussion. He'd have the EMT's check her out when they got here.

He pointed at a rough-hewn bench. "Maybe you should sit down."

"I'm fine " Her voice cracked and she seemed embarrassed over reacting to the murder.

"It's okay to be upset, Syd. A horrible thing happened tonight."

"I'm fine really. I'll be back to a hundred percent by morning."

Text copyright © by Susan Sleeman

Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What I've Been Reading

I've read some great books in the last six months

This is an intriguing novel by Ariana Franklin that blends history with science. I enjoyed the premise, coupled with solid writing and a cover I kept looking at over and over again.

This book by Nancy Werlin is also an interesting mix of genres. Not only that, but she did some great things with POV, seamlessly moving from third person to first.

I really enjoyed this book by Camy Tang. Lots of twists and I wasn't sure who the villain was, which is always nice in a suspense.

A sweet love story by Ruth Logan Herne that introduced a lifestyle I didn't know existed, or not much about it. (raising sheep)

I absolutely loved this book by Cathy Gohlke. I've never read her before but I thought her writing was exquisite and she brought the era of the story to life for me, as well as the characters.

What are you reading? Do you tend to span genres or stick with the tried and true?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Refining Your Voice

So last week I mentioned that critiques can smother or dull a voice.

Well, the opposite is also true. Good critiques can smooth and refine voice. Just because a voice is strong doesn't mean it's the best it can be.

Writing guidelines are tools, as are critiques. Use them to sharpen and shape your voice, to strengthen it and make it powerful.

What is the best critique you've ever received in any area of your life? How did it change your writing or perspective?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Getting Comfortable in My Own Voice

Last week I talked about being deliberate with our writing.

The words we choose, the length of our sentences, even the pacing of our scenes can all be traced back to voice. It's important to get comfortable in our voice, to know it, because if we write how other writers tell us to write and don't know our voice yet, we can lose it.

It's important to learn from other writers, to gain knowledge and new writing skills, but in the end, we're responsible for using these things to strengthen our own voice, and not to carbon copy another's voice.

Have you ever felt like you'd lost your voice, or are you still finding it? Are you comfortable in your voice?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Be Deliberate

The term Rules used in the below post really means guidelines but we're taught that they're rules, thus that's the word I use. In reference to breaking them, I mean departing from the standards we're taught :-)

Rules are fun to break, but there's two things we must know before we break them.

1) What are the rules?

2) Why are we breaking them?

As I've been reading contest entries, a commonality stood out to me. The overuse of exclamation points. I'd forgotten how much we writers love that bit of punctuation. And so when I was reading a very good book, I noticed immediately when the author used exclamation points in three consecutive sentences.

I thought to myself: Now that's Voice. That author knows exactly what she's doing, and why.

When we write, we must be deliberate. Every word, every character, every action, every scene must have a purpose to the story. It is up to us to discover what that purpose is. It is up to us to decide how to use the rules to make our story most effective.

Have you broken any rules in your current WIP? If so, why? Leave an example, if you'd like. :-)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Last Dance With Mary Jane

Anyone remember that song?

I loved it in sixth grade, having absolutely no clue what it meant.

In the writing world, there's a Mary Jane too, and she's not welcome in our stories. My RWR (the RWA magazine) came in the mail last month and one writer did an interesting article on writer terms. I hadn't heard the Mary Jane one in a while so thought I'd pass it on.

A Mary Jane is basically when the main character is too perfect.

Ever written a Mary Jane? Ever read one? Without pinpointing authors, can you name any characters that were so Mary Janish you gagged?

I'm officially a ditz. The term I'm referring to is MARY SUE, not Mary Jane...Whoops!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

RUE and Conflict

I've been in the midst of judging contests since November and I'm starting to see a pattern with entries, enabling me to see what I need to work on in my own writing.

Resist the Urge to Explain
This manifests as telling most of the time. Good showing needs no explanation. A grin says more than "she was happy." RUE doesn't just occur in telling though. Sometimes the sneaky bugger pops into narrative (and there's a fine line, imo, between internal narrative and telling). For example, something will be said in dialogue or shown in action, and then we like to jump in and drop a few lines explaining what just happened.

Just like in life, sometimes it's better to RUE.

Another weakness I'm coming across is lack of conflict.

I think many writers (including myself) make the mistake of thinking that bad things happening to our main character equals conflict. I've been pondering it though, and I'm beginning to realize that conflict cannot exist without goal. (GMC, anyone?)

A true conflict means two opposing forces, not one force battering our main character. This means our main character must be a force as well. Our main character must begin the story with a deep desire which translates into a goal he or she vigorously pursues.

And then, WHAM.

An opposing force gets in the way of that goal and suddenly our MC must deal with that conflict.

So true conflict requires a proactive MC rather than a reactive one.

What do you think? Is there enough conflict in your plot or is your MC just reacting to what happens to her or him? And anyone here struggle with RUE?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Knew Them When

I'm busy in revision land, so I just wanted to throw out some encouraging shout-outs. I started reading the blogs of most of the bloggers below Pre-Agents/Pre-Publication, and now they all have contracts and/or books released.
You never know when it'll happen to you!

So here they are: Proof that writers CAN get pubbed. :-)

Jody Hedlund I started reading her blog before she had an agent. Now she's on the bestseller list!

Katie GanshertI started reading her blog pre-Agent too, back when it was called Brain Throw-up (which I still think is genius! lol)

Anita HowardBeen reading her blog since before I had any commenters on my blog!

Elana JohnsonYep, before she had an agent or a contract. Now look what she has coming out!

Julie JarnaginI met her after she'd received her contract but have to do a shout-out because her debut just released!

Kristen PainterWas reading her pre-contract; now she has books coming out everywhere!

I feel like I'm missing someone, so if it's you, send me a message and I'll get a link up. Can I blame my forgetfulness on too much chocolate and not enough sleep?

Have you known anyone who got the call? Does getting published feel impossible or do you see that it can be done?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It Takes Time

When I first started writing, I did a lot of research. One of the things I began to notice was how long it took for authors to get published. The average, if I remember right, was 3-5 years from the point of starting to the point of contract.

The numbers boggled me.

Could I write for that long? With no guarantee?

Of course, I could. It helped to think of the first few years as college. Still, I was overwhelmed by the thought of how long it took so I decided to stop thinking about it and just write, query, etc.

About a year ago, I suddenly realized I'd been writing for three years. Somehow the time had flown by.


Well, the best thing about publishing is that while there's a wait, there's also always things changing. For example, after I finished my first manuscript it took time to write the query. Then time to figure out who to send it to. And then I started a new story as I waited for responses. Between all that was editing and critiquing and contests.

Basically, I've been writing, editing and submitting for four years now. Time slipped by and I didn't even know it. Now I'm moving toward the five year mark and I have to wonder, will this be it?

How do you feel about the wait? How long have you been writing?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Rooting for the Bad Guy

So I watched Tangled with my kids the other night. As the movie started, my six year old son couldn't help but give me a running dialogue about everything (he's seen it before).

The movie introduced the hero, who happened to be stealing. I asked my son, is the thief the guy Rapunzel falls in love with?

He turned to me, eyes round. "He's not a thief, mom."

"But he's stealing," I pointed out.

No, no, no, he's not stealing. There are bad guys with him, but he's not stealing at all. My son shook his head and absolutely refused to believe that the good guy was doing a bad thing.

I smiled and dropped the subject. Let him root for the bad guy. I knew that by the end of the story, the thief would be the prince.

Have you ever rooted for someone, knowing they were doing bad things but seeing their potential for change? Have you ever been like my son and completely blind to a character's/person's faults? What do you think about starting a character arc so completely down on the morality pole?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rounding Second!

I'm heading toward third base!

The journey to getting published feels like baseball to me right now. I cracked the ball and sent it soaring (sent out my queries). I reached first base.

Then I got a request for a full. That's my second base.

Some people go straight home from there, but I'm heading toward third.

That's because I received a revision letter from an editor. *swoon*

Remember I had a full out to a publisher? They've requested some revisions which I am only too happy to do! So right now I'm trying to get these done so the manuscript can go out for some reads.

I've heard that some writers are discouraged by revision requests. Maybe they're overwhelmed (I was a little) and they step off the base and are out. DON'T step off the base. If you get a request, and it feels doable and you resonate with it, RUN like lightning for third base.

This is pretty exciting for me. I could still get out but I know there'll be other chances for me to bat again.

What is the most exciting thing that ever happened with one of your manuscripts? Would you love to get a revision letter?

For tips on handling revisions, check out these fabulous posts by Jody Hedlund and Keli Gwyn.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Playing with Grandma Today

My grandma is in town so I won't be blogging this week.

Do you have anything special going on? If you could wish for something special, what would it be?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Proof of Desire

One of my pastors said something on Sunday that resonated with me. Speaking of the Christian life, and following Jesus, he said:

"The proof of desire is in the pursuit."

Writers love to write. Some of us are content to hide our stories away and write for our own pleasure. Some of us want to be published though. Our desire can be reflected in our pursuit of publication.

How can editor buy our book if he never reads it? How will an agent represent us if she never sees our query?

What are you doing to pursue publication? How do you get your work out there? Is your fear of failure greater than your desire to be published?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Starting Your Story Right

First chapters are always fun for me.

I love setting up the story and creating some juicy conflict.

One thing I try to keep in mind is that I start the story right. There's a lot of advice to start the story with action, which is great, but I also think there's another important aspect to the first chapter and it has to do with character arc.

The first chapter should start with your main character in their ordinary world. This is the world they've been in before the story started. The same problems, the same people, the same moral structure.

Somewhere in chapter one, usually toward the end, something happens or some choice is made which propels the main character into a new world. A new job, a new challenge, or maybe new choices.

This change that occurs should be something that challenges your hero or heroine's character.

Thus, the character arc begins and chapter one ends with your main character in a struggle that will continue throughout the story and at the end of the book, your main character should be somehow different or changed from who he or she was at the beginning of the story.

What happens to your main character in chapter one that will forever change him or her? Who is your favorite hero or heroine and how is he or she different at the end of the story?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It Ain't Easy Following the Rules

Last post I talked about rules we readers would like to tell writers.

Some rules we came up with:

1. Don't Bore Your Reader
2. Don't Annoy Your Reader
3. Don't Be Predictable
4. Misunderstandings don't make Good Conflict
5. Trust Your Reader
6. Make Your Reader Care
7. Be an Honest, Believable Writer
8. Keep Things Simple

Unfortunately, while I can spot these things in books, somehow I miss them in my own stories. I'm always breaking rules and not realizing it!

Thank goodness for my critique group. For my writing friends. For anonymous contest judges.

Which "rules" have you broken? How do you keep yourself from doing it again? How do you feel about rules in general? (*grin* They're not my favorite thing, if you can tell)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rule Number One: Don't Bore Your Reader

I picked up a book that I'd heard good reviews about. The cover was cute, the voice engaging. I was totally into the book for about fifty pages...until I figured out the plot.

HEAs are my thing. That's why I read romance. But there are still ways to surprise me and hook me into the characters' lives.

With this book, the author set up a plot that could've been really good with lots of tension and snappy writing but somehow I realized that the whole crux of the plot is a misunderstanding. I didn't buy that the husband was cheating because I didn't see the evidence (could be other craft problems or could just be me).

There was a scene where the heroine is riding with her boss's son (who the husband doesn't know about) in a car and sees her husband drive past with his beautiful co-worker beside him. That's where I stopped reading.

The heroine is worrying about her husband cheating but she just did the same thing he did! Why is she allowed to ride in the car with a hot co-worker but if he doesn it's automatic suspicion of adultery?

Which leads me to...

RULE NUMBER TWO: Don't Annoy Your Reader.

Shortly after that scene I began skipping narrative, looking for a reason to believe that the conflict and tension in the story was real. I hadn't found it a chapter later so I flipped to the end and sure enough, my suspicions had been correct. The husband had always loved the wife and everything she'd been misreading had a valid explanation. Everything was hunky dory.

Was this the writer's fault? I don't know but I'm passing the book on to family members who may like it.

What do you think RULE NUMBER THREE should be?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

You Are A Story

I didn't have much interest in people as a kid. Once I discovered books, the life within them seemed more real than the bustle around me.

I cared for and liked people but I didn't really see them...

Until I landed a job at my local newspaper.

As a freelancer, my editor expected a story on a person every two weeks to grace our Neighbors section, and it needed to be interesting. The story was supposed to focus on a local resident's unique skill or talent.

I was blind, not understanding, wondering how I could find these "special" people.

My editor forever changed my perpective. He told me every person has something unique, something special--even if they don't know it. It was my job to find that slant and spotlight it.

Now everyone I meet I'm full of curiosity about. Who are they? What's their story? Where have they been and where are they going?

If you were a story, what genre would you be? How do you see people? How do you think God sees people?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What a Reader is Really Thinking

But first, another Huge Shout-Out to Katie Ganshert, who just landed a two book contract! You can read about her call HERE. Woohoo, I can't wait to read your books Katie!

Also, please keep Baby Annabelle and her parents Krista (my tree-climbing buddy)and Scott in your prayers. They have some major medical decisions looming.

On a side note, ever wonder what readers really think when they're ripped away from their current book? Check out the video below (rated PG for name calling)

How do you react when you get interrupted?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Submission Update

A publisher has had my full for three months now. Knowing I could get a rejection, revision or a call any day is so nerve-wracking!

What would happen with my life if I got published? How would it change?

It's a new year. Many of you said you'd like to start querying this year. Have you began yet? How is it going? How would getting published change your life, and do you think you're ready?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Woot, Woot for Keli Gwyn!

If you don't know Keli, I'd be surprised. For the past few years she's been interviewing romance writers over at Romance Writers on the Journey.
She even interviewed ME at one point.
Keli is an encouraging, wonderful person. She sends gifts, creates First Sale Scrapbooks (I have one, it's waiting still for that sale, lol), and tries to support writers in different ways.

I just found out that Keli has SOLD a book! You can read her call story HERE. She's been working toward this goal for a long time.

How long have you been writing? Are you aware of the averages regarding the amount of manuscripts written and the number of years that pass before a sale is obtained? Do the stats challenge you or depress you?

Congrats Keli!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Judging By the Cover

"some of us aren't the typical romance reader who has time to read one book after another while the husband is away at work, while we're waiting on the kids at soccer practice or while we're homeschooling our kids."

I read this comment on a blog the other day. It made me laugh a little but also caused me to think about how easy it is to generalize people.

I tend to think romance writers have certain qualities in common, but what about romance readers?

Do you think their commonalities are more internal than external? When you think of someone who reads romance, what do you see? Have you ever made an assumption about someone and then been proven completely wrong?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I'll Never Love Again

A soulmate or soul mate is a person with whom one has a feeling of deep and natural affinity, love, intimacy, sexuality, spirituality, and/or compatibility

Love is a complicated thing.

Do you believe that there's a perfect fit out there for everyone? How do you handle writing a story about a widow(er) or a divorced character who meets someone special? Which type of story do you prefer to read, the first-time-falling-in-love or the second-time-around-but-just-as-special romance?