April 28, 2010

Issue of Timing

I watched American Idol last night and was struck by one of the comments made. I think it was Ellen who said at this point in the competition it just gets hard to narrow down  a winner. There is so much talent that all of them should make it. I don't think they all are that good, but I agree that some are worthy to make it to the top. But the thing is...not all of them can. It takes the right people voting at the right time. It takes a good night of singing. It takes shining in front of the world when the world is ready to exert the energy to pick up the phone and vote.

Publishing a book is like that. There are many good writers out there, but it's the one that shines the most in front of eyes that are in a good mood and are ready to exert the energy needed to push the book through to publication that rise to the top. Yes, it takes good writing to shine. Yes, it takes work to rise to the top. But there is the element of timing involved, I think.

It's all about God's timing. It's the unknown variable, but it is by far the best timing. It's not something you can corral or command. It is something you rest in and find peace in.  We can fret and worry all we want, but God is ultimately our agent. He is the one who opens doors and gives us success. He's the one who lands the contract. All in His time.

We just get to enjoy the journey. So let it be a thrilling one, reveling in the gift He has given you with words.  

April 26, 2010

Discipline and Consistency

I've had an interesting weekend, getting to know my new puppy and watching him like a hawk! I've forgotten how babies need so much supervision. In some ways this has been a great thing for me. I couldn't get on the computer like I usually do in my free time. And you know what? I didn't miss it. Because I have a worthy cause...training my puppy to be a fantastic dog.

All this training and attention I've lavished on Titus makes me realize how much the books we write are just like little puppies. In the beginning we are so excited about the possibilities and jump into the venture with gusto. We love it! And then we get tired.

I've been exhausted, listening to Titus cry at night and chasing after him, trying to catch him before he relieves himself on my floors. It takes a lot of discipline and consistency. So it is with our books. It takes tons of discipline. We have to keep at it, even when it gets tough. The discipline and the consistency will help produce a book we can be proud of.

Really, it's the editing and revision where the discipline comes in. We fine tune our books, eliminating the unnecessary words, adding description, giving texture to a basic story. It is where we make our books listen to the storyteller and obey our commands. And this, my friends, is where I am sadly lacking.

As I've been thinking about a new story to write, I've been called back by my first MS. So I've been tinkering with it, trying to make it obey my commands. (Don't you love the word tinker?) And my excitement is coming back for it, strangely enough. Maybe I just needed time away.

Or maybe I'm too tired right now to have the energy to do the legwork for a new project. I'm still letting my new story "stew"...doing lots of daydreaming and scene visualizing, but that's about all I can handle right now.

Who knows, maybe when I get my energy back, I will go ahead with my new story idea. I'd really like to get a good jump on it this summer while I have extra time at home.

What a scattered post this is! Can you tell my brain is fried?

April 23, 2010

A Tale of Titus

I'm a new momma of the cutest little mini dachshund that we call Titus. Big T. We been thinking about getting a puppy for a year and when some friends said they were going to have a litter, we decided to claim one. My daughter had one picked out since they were born and that is the one we brought home.

Did I mention that I am sleepy this morning? Poor little thing misses his family and cried off and on all night. He did better than I thought he would and only cried every two hours, but goodness, I'm not used to that. It's been 14 years since I had that going on!

He is adorable and playful and loves to chase his tail. He pounces and runs into things and shake toys. Did I mention he chews on everything? Yes, he does. And I find it adorable. At least right now.

Hopefully he will adjust and I keep my sanity as we house train him. Any tips on that? Please? Anyone?

April 21, 2010

Winter's End by Ruth Logan Herne

What appropriate timing to read Winter's End at a time when the pollen count is rising and my nose is itchy! :)

Oh my, this was a great book. Ruth Logan Jones has written a beautiful romance with the serious issues of foster care and the ailing health of a loved one. She delves into hospice care and the different stages of feelings that go along with that. Not an easy topic, but Ruth has a way of bringing the reader deep within the heart of the hero, making you ache for him.

I was drawn to Kayla, the hospice nurse who takes care of Marc DeHollander's dying father. She is strong and has a caring heart that eases the journey of the families whose loved one is dying. And Marc...sigh...I love a tough guy who struggles with his emotions. I love the vulnerability Ruth brings to the hero and his obvious love for his father.

Oh, and don't forget the EXCELLENT romantic tension! Goodness, the sparks fly between Kayla and Marc and kept me turning the pages! Sigh....I love conflict. :)

Here's the back cover:
After growing up in foster care, nurse Kayla Doherty's finally found a faith to rely on and a job she loves. But that's all put to the test when she's called to care for surly Marc DeHollander's dying father. Marc's struggling to keep his cattle farm afloat while dealing with his father's illness. He doesn't have time to fall for the beautiful hospice nurse. But as the frigid New York winter turns to spring, can he find a place for Kayla--and the Lord--in his heart?

You'll love this heartwarming book!

You can learn more about Ruth Logan Herne HERE.
You can purchase Winter's End HERE.

April 19, 2010

Era Hopping

I've been thinking about the direction I want my new story to go. I've got a good premise, which could become a series. The thing is, it is not going to be a medieval. Now I love the medieval era...the chivalry, the hunky heroes with their broadswords, but from what I hear, medieval is really not publishable right now. So I'm thinking a different era....or two.

I originally thought contemporary would fit best, but I've toyed with the possibility of the Regency era. I love Regency--alway have. I have read Regency books since I was in high school. Have you ever heard of Barbara Cartland? Yep, I cut my Regency teeth on her books. I've scoured the library for all the Regency books and have read ALL of the Signet and Zebra paperback line, which are a relatively clean read, as opposed to some of the thicker bound Regencies. I love the propriety, the balls, the dresses, the waltz, walks in Hyde Park, and the class system--especially when love crosess the class line, making the "class rules" null and void.

It's been interesting trying to insert my originally contemporary premise into a historical setting. I've had to do some tweaking, of course, but I think it may work. I think. It is an exciting prospect, to be sure.

Have any of you writers out there changed the era or setting for your story premise? Was it easy? Difficult?
Have any of you ever read Regency? Like it? Hate it? Inquiring minds want to know.

April 18, 2010

We Have A Winner!

Using a random generator, we have a winner for A Case For Love, by Kaye Dacus!

The lucky person is.....


I've emailed you for your snail mail address!


April 14, 2010

Review & Giveaway: A Case For Love by Kaye Dacus

I do believe I've found a new author to put on my FAVORITES list. Kaye Dacus! Her book, A Case For Love, is a fun read with a strong, capable heroine and a strong, capable, and yummy hero. (Oooo-la-la, Forbes Guidry!!!) I found the story compelling, with great chemistry between the two main characters.

Here's the back cover:

The Alaine Delacroix that all of Bonneterre knows is the carefully polished image she puts forth every day on her noontime news-magazine program. When her parents' home and small business is threatened by the biggest corporation in town, Alaine is forced to choose between her image and fighting for the life her family has built.

Lawyer Forbes Guidry is used to making things go his way. But when he's asked to take on a pro bono case for a colleague, he'll learn that he can't control everything--including his feelings for his new client: Alaine Delacroix.

Alaine's only option to help her family is hiring Forbes, but can she bring herself to trust the handsome, disarmingly charming lawyer? And will Forbes Guidry be able to make a case for love before losing his job and family? Can both trust that God will present a solution before all is lost?

What I liked:  I hate to say I liked everything, but really, I did. This was a fun read that kept my attention and made me feel for the characters. Well, not just feel FOR them, but get into their skins and really feel. The dilemmas both Alaine and Forbes faced were difficult and Kaye was able to help them grow in their faith and in their ability to stand up for what was right. The romantic tension was incredible and there was enough conflict to keep the pages turning. You will not be disappointed in this book by Kaye!

You can find A Case For Love HERE.
You can find out more about Kaye Dacus and her other books HERE.

To enter for the giveaway, please leave your spam-free email address in the comment section.
Example: sherrinda (at) gmail (dot) com
Drawing will be held Sunday, April 18 and I will post the winner.

** Disclaimer:  I was under no obligation to review this book. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a book giveaway in return for the free product. I won this book in a giveaway and wanted to share the love! U.S. Citizens only, please. 

April 12, 2010

To Write or Do the Rewrite...

I've whined enough about revising. I either need to finish the revisions WITHOUT complaint, or move on. I'm wrestling with this dilemma and here's why:

It's my first baby. It's my first real manuscript. Complete. Finished. And it is not good. Hey...it's my first...it's not supposed to be. I should move on to the next, believing that this first story is a great stepping stone. A great learning tool. I know with each and every novel I write, my writing will only improve. At least I would hope that to be the case.

But...what if I can't revise any book? What if I am just too lazy to do the hard work of writing--the hard work of revising? What if I don't have what it takes? Aarrrggghhhh! The frustration of it all.

You writers out there--what is your experience? When you were first starting, what did you do? Revise and revise that first one or did you move on?

What do you think I should do? Buckle down and revise? Or move on?

April 09, 2010

The Heart of A Nurturer

A mother's heart has a great capacity for love, joy, pride, sadness, and anger (among other things). Our hearts swell with pride at our children's accomplishments, we cry with joy when they are successful, we cry with sadness when they are lonely, and we rage when they are mistreated or left out. We feel what they feel. I know, because the last two weeks have stuffed this mother's heart with so many emotions, I am spilling over!

Even if we don't have physical children, writers are both maternal and paternal in their quest to birth a story. We "date" with story ideas, trying them out, seeing what characters are a good fit and what plot lines would make for a great future. We get "engaged" with the story, committed to laying out a life plan for our story, developing the plot, fleshing it out. We get to know the characters inside and out, drawing out their deepest desires and needs.

Then comes the marriage. We take the plunge and fill the blank, white pages with black letters. For some, this is the blissful "honeymoon" stage - fun, exciting, floating along in euphoria at getting words down on paper. For others, this is the difficult "first year"...the time where you struggle to write that first draft. Every step is painful, with agony over every word.

But then you write "The End" and your baby is born. You are proud, and you should be! But then comes the difficult part of teaching your child. You correct your grammar mistakes, you add description, and delete unnecessary words. You shape your "child", you nurture it, and you turn it into a book that will make you proud and hopefully one day sit on a bookshelf in your library. (A personal dream of mine!)

It's the heart of a nurturer...like a mother...that gives a book depth. It is being able to get deep into your character's minds and hearts, feeling their joy, their pain, their hope, and their hurt. You must take them on a journey and let them grow. You let them fall, and pick them back up again. You guide them along the way and in the end, they can stand on their own. Your heart swells with the growth of your characters and you are proud to show them off.

And hopefully one day you will be able to pull out your "pictures" (book) and show your friends....and who knows, maybe they will ask you to autograph it!

April 07, 2010

eReaders Galore!

 I have green envy running through my veins and it is causing a craving like never before. I want an eReader. Which one, you say? Well, I don't know. I'm having trouble deciding. I was going to do a side by side comparison between several, but found some comparison charts that were simple to read. If you want more information you can go HERE.

If you have an iPhone, you can get apps to download books, but to me the screen might be to small for my aging eyes. Plus, I don't have an iPhone. (Another green monster item!)

So who all has an eReader? Do you love it? Do you want one? Do you have plans for getting one? If so, which one and why?

April 05, 2010

Let's Go Fly A Kite

Easter Sunday was a glorious day, full of praise and worship, and family and friends. I had cooked a huge meal of roast, potatoes, carrots, green beans, homemade bread, and strawberry shortcake (with real whipping cream!). My parents were there and we watched my children hunt eggs filled with candy and money. You can see them in the picture, looking through their stash, and counting their money.

We then walked to a nearby school and flew kites. It was my daughter-in-law's idea and it was so much fun! We hadn't flown kites in forever and enjoyed the peace and relaxation it brought. You can't be too close to those around you, because you don't want your strings to tangle, so it left you alone with the kite and the wind. Lots of thinking time.

Of course, I immediately started thinking about new stories whirling in my mind. At one point, I laid down in the grass and watched my kite high above, and wondered what other kinds of things I could do to get my mind focused on stories. What kind of activities give your mind time to create?

  • Kite flying
  • Swinging on a porch swing or hammock
  • Take a walk
  • Ironing ( I know...yuck, you say. Well, I say yuck too!)
  • Washing dishes
  • Cleaning the closet
  • Driving (this can be very dangerous...I've thought about stories while driving and then realize I don't remember the last few miles of driving!)
  • Playing tennis?
  • Folding clothes
  • Yoga (you get the added physical benefit)
What do you do to stimulate your creative juices?

April 02, 2010

Formatting Issues

I had another first. I got rejected. No, not a rejection from an agent or publishing house. I got rejected from a contest I entered because of formatting! I entered my second writing contest  and woke up the next morning to an email saying the format was all wrong. The person who emailed me was so nice and wrote a two paragraph explanation on how to fix the formating. They even told me they would fix it for me if I wanted! How nice is that?

What I found amazing was I had never even heard of some of the things in the explanation. Widows and Orphans. What in the world?
"The widow/orphan control in Word is a feature that will prevent single lines of paragraphs from appearing on a separate page from the rest of the prargraph (a widow is the first line of a paragraph left by itself and an orphan is the last line left by itself). The widow/orphan control will automatically keep two lines together on a page, shifting them as necessary when you add or take text awar from the document." (eHow)
Evidently, in order to have exactly 25 lines per page, you have to turn off the Widows/Orphans control. Sigh....I had to do a little bit of research, but I figured out how to fix it. You go to "Home", then "Paragraph", then "Line Breaks", then uncheck the Widows/Orphans box. Yes, you still have to set the lines as EXACTLY with 25 pt. The funny thing is, I didn't have the box checked to begin with. Hhhmmm.

Very confusing. And just a tad bit embarrassing! But since there is an extension on the deadline, I am blogging tonight instead of correcting my mistake. I'm also wondering if the first contest I entered last month will find the same problems. Live and learn, I say.

Anyone else have any newbie mistakes that they have made along the way? Anyone? Are you sure you don't wanna make me feel better?

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